Worth the watch?
Because I set myself up with Son of Batman for my “next time” on my previous article about Wonder Woman, which is a movie that shows us that DC can truly make wonders happen. This article is going to point out one of the animations that shows us what to not do with your beloved characters.
So, Batman has a son?!
Yes, it’s true, in the recent years of the Batman comic world, there has been a strange fascination to give Batman this new sidekick, Damian – a bloodthirsty, know-it-all, annoying, brat. That decision is very odd to me. I personally feel like the Robins served the purpose of the sidekick/family role in a much more interesting way than Batman suddenly having a biological son to take care of. I guess Damian is an approach for DC to try to make Bruce have more “real” heart and peace. Nonetheless, it’s a fact and we’re all stuck with the little smarmy, pretentious kid, in both the comics and in the animations.
This offspring from Bruce (aka Batman) comes from the on and off relationship with Talia al Ghul and is hidden from Batmans’ knowledge; by the League of Assassins. Under Damians’ upbringing in the stronghold of the League, he is taught how to fight; in their way. The way which is to always end your enemy, for good. You probably don’t have to be a Batman fan to know that this is going to be troublesome for the Bat when he gets to bond with his deadly son. It’s not so much of a problem in the narrative, it sure is an interesting idea, one that has kind of been done before with the character Jason Todd. Not to such an extreme extent as with Damian but still, it’s a familiar and compelling concept.
Despite Son of Batman being more or less a success for DC, bringing in $6.2 million in the box office and getting mostly positive reviews, this movie was “doomed” from the very start; at least with the hardcore Bat-fans. If you’ve seen Batman the Animated Series or played any of the Arkham games (Origins is the exception) then you know that Kevin Conroy is the true voice of Batman. (Bonus point if you also get chills from hearing Mark Hamill as the Joker.) If you haven’t done any of the aforementioned, then the fact that Kevin Conroy isn’t the voice of Batman/Bruce in this movie won’t be that much of a bother to you; other than the voice actor sounding a bit off on a couple lines.
The good stuff
There are a few things that I really liked about Son of Batman, such as the sound design and the voice actor that plays Talia, Morena Baccarin. She does a great job as Talia, even managing to deliver her absurd love-lines with Batman with a close to 100% genuineness. Now the other voice actors aren’t outright bad, they do a fairly good job with what they are given; but unfortunately the lines are somewhat cliché and cheesy. The voice actor for SladeWilson though, (aka Deathstroke) he completely misses to capture the character of Deathstroke and end up sounding like a stereotypical “bad guy”.
Another thing I noticed was the consistent use of blood, from the very beginning this movie establishes that Son of Batman is going to be a bloody movie all the way to the end. They definitely don’t hold back in this flick in comparison to other DC animations. (Read my previous article on Wonder Woman to see my issue with the use of blood in other animations.)
Who did they make this movie for?
There is this weird thing about Son of Batman that I don’t quite understand. Who is the intended target audience? I sure don’t know. Yes, movies can be made for both young and adult viewers to enjoy it, but the tone in this flick changes back and forth so much throughout the whole film. There is violence, adult jokes, blood, death and then there are several scenes which clearly pander to the younger demographic; feeling like they belong in a whole other movie. It’s a bizarre combination of mostly adult content, sprinkled with Saturday-morning cartoon content; something that I have yet to see in other films. You usually pick either one and go with it.
Dreams of a saving grace
Son of Batman is for the most part, pretty well-animated, with excellent backgrounds to go with it; but it also has animation that make you go “wait, what?”. There is such an odd disparity of quality between the animations, some scenes are amazing to watch, which then are followed up by animation that feels just flat out dull and lazy. It’s like there was two separate animation teams that worked on Son of Batman, one A-team that did the quality stuff and one team of inexperienced interns that completely ruined the consistency and that feeling of momentum in the action.
What could have saved Son of Batman for me, besides writing a bit more believable dialogue, making a lot of animation touch ups and having a more intriguing story, was to at least give it some cool detective scenes. Maybe a few more father/son bonding scenes with Batman and Damian. It’s such a shame, because you can feel that there is a vast potential in Son of Batman. I wanted this to make my Bat-heart cry with geeky comic-booky joy, to make me like this Damian character, but alas, it wasn’t to be.
I know that with the budget these DC animations get, it’s not possible to make a full-length movie that has renowned writers, first-rate animation, and famous voice actors, but you have to wonder; in what department did they spend the big bucks? In comparison to other DC animations that got the same budget, Son of Batman really under-delivers on a true DC animated experience. There’s very little, in my opinion, in this movie that stands out in a good way. I believe that it’s better to make at least one aspect of a film stand out, rather than make it an average movie all the way through.
Is it worth watching? Son of Batman is definitely not all bad, it has a few good moments with a lot of potential; watch it if you’re not that picky when watching animated movies about superheroes. Though it gets a firm NO from me.
So what about the sequel, Batman vs. Robin? This is an animation that I sort of recommend, it’s a step up from Son of Batman. It seems like they took some of the criticism they got from their first movie and avoided some of the problems Son of Batman had. Batman vs. Robin can’t compare to other greats that DC has released, it has annoying and clunky moments; but a small Batman-treat anyways.