Batman and Superman: Battle of the Super Sons
I’d about given up on the original DC animated movies. They’re either stories I already read as comics — and I didn’t feel a need to see the characters move, with added mature content — or they exist mostly for big battles.
Batman and Superman: Battle of the Super Sons was a pleasant change by focusing more on character interaction. I liked it a lot more than I expected — although it’s very male, with the only female characters being Lois Lane and Wonder Girl (representing the Titans). (I was given a copy by the studio for this review.)
It begins as a Super-story. There’s a capsule history of Superman’s life in five minutes — does anyone who would watch this NOT know at this point he was rocketed from Krypton, etc.? — but then we settle into how he (Travis Willingham) and Lois (Laura Bailey) are raising their son, Jonathan Kent (Jack Dylan Grazer). It’s his birthday, but Dad’s away working, and he’s got an important baseball game. Very small-town slice-of-life, with a layer of father/son angst — and then he discovers both that he might have powers and Dad’s secret.
We meet Batman (Troy Baker) as Jonathan does about a third of the way into the movie. A visit to the Batcave introduces the incredibly grumpy, anti-social Damian (Jack Griffo). His first substantial interaction with the good-hearted farm boy consists of trying to kill him. He’s a little jerk, and I love him for it.
Damian has his own struggles as the Titans have rejected him as a team member because he’s too violent and is terrible at teamwork. The two boys, so very different, have to team up, and the title battle comes about, once Superman, Batman, and other Justice League members are taken over by Starro.
In spite of the epic-level drama, there’s plenty of humor (Bat-cow! Allows for bonding with Jonathan’s farm knowledge!), and I appreciated how quickly the story moved along without feeling repetitive or stretched out. I say “epic” because pitting the kids against their dads is some Freudian stuff.
Everyone learns lessons, sacrifices are attempted, and the day is saved, of course. There’s also a few lectures about how important reporters are. I wish I found this more compelling, but it’s clear our society no longer believes this. Still, my attention was held by this CGI-animated movie a lot longer than others in this series. In large part, that’s because Jonathan Kent is allowed to enjoy superheroing in the way the adult characters aren’t these days. They’re all grim and grumpy and overloaded, but as a kid, he has an energy and enthusiasm that is very welcome.
Aside from a couple of cartoon episodes, the only extra is a 15-minute featurette, “Rival Sons: Jonathan and Damian”. You can see the various moviemakers talk about their feelings about the characters, many of whom mention how they see the need for these kinds of stories now that they are fathers.
This weekend, the Blu-ray version of the movie is on deep discount at over 70% off list price.