Batman: Bad Blood
Batman: Bad Blood opens with action, as Batwoman (voiced by Yvonne Strahovski) is battling a gang that includes Firefly and Killer Moth. Unlike Batman (Jason O’Mara), she uses guns, which to the Dark Knight’s eyes makes her just like the villains they battle, so he wants her out of his city. Conveniently, she’s immediately captured by the bad guys. He rescues her but is presumed deceased in a following explosion.
This isn’t a spoiler. This is the first five minutes of Batman: Bad Blood, where the premise is to explore how the many other Bat-family characters — Robin Damien Wayne (Stuart Allan), Nightwing (Sean Maher), Batwoman — cope with a Gotham City without Batman. It’s in the same universe as Batman vs. Robin, with many of the same voices.
Batman can be such an overwhelming presence that it’s refreshing to see more of the characters around him, but the action focus of these cartoons means the development stays shallow. For instance, Dick (Nightwing) and Damien (Robin) are Batman’s two most immediate heirs — one adopted, one natural. They have an intense conversation about whether their father is really gone — but it’s in the Batmobile driving away from a couple of confrontations, and it doesn’t have any lasting effect. At least they portray Nightwing as light-hearted, not as intense as the others, which is a welcome tonic.
Alfred, meanwhile, bless his heart, is using tech tricks to keep up the premise that Bruce Wayne is alive but unavailable. I would have liked to have known more about his feelings, but just the idea that the oldest of those in on the secret is the most useful is a nice one. Here he’s talking about the problem with Nightwing:
Still, the reason for these movies is plenty of different fight scenes. They expand the universe by bringing in Batwing (whose assembly process makes him look like an Iron Man ripoff) and Batwoman, showing enough of their respective traumas to explain why they put on spandex and risk their lives (although there’s never much of a sense of danger, given the genre formulas in use), but they feel as much like plastic action figures as all the other characters. That may be because we only get an hour and a quarter for the whole thing, so storytelling has to be abbreviated. Which might also explain why the motivations for Talia (Morena Baccarin) are so inconsistent and senseless.
The only time I really felt for Kate Kane (Batwoman) was when she was trying to flirt with Renee Montoya and one of the Batboys calls her away. That was a fun scene to see animated. On another emotional note, the scene where Bruce has a nightmare where everyone in his life is dragging him down underwater, so he has to kick his dead mother in the face to escape, is pretty intense. I’d say that in itself is a good reason for the PG-13 (not suitable for kids) rating.
The special features (Blu-ray only) have slightly changed since they were first announced. They are:
- The Justice League vs. Teen Titans sneak peek (11 1/2 minutes) has the production crew talking about the coming film and the history of the concept. They emphasize how these are kids, young people who like playing video games.
- “Putting the Fight in the Gotham” (26 minutes) is about animating fight choreography. The message is that they’re aiming for it to seem “dangerous” now, in contrast to earlier Batman portrayals on film.
- “Expanding the Batman Family” (14 minutes) has focus segments on the history of Robin, Batwoman, Batgirl, and Batwing.
- Two cartoon episodes: Batman: The Brave and the Bold, “The Knights of Tomorrow” and “The Criss Cross Conspiracy” (this was a change).
The deluxe edition comes with a Nightwing figurine. (The studio provided a review copy.)