There are a lot of things that Batman excels at. He knows a dozen ways to reduce your face into something that resembles a plate of meatballs, can deduce who murdered who just by looking at a crime scene and he can escape the kind of death-trap that usually awaits Black Friday shoppers in American retail shops.
For all his skill, cunning and genius however, Batman is an absolutely terrible father. He’s never going to win any parent of the year awards, especially when he spends his nights dressing his legally adopted and genetically linked children as a military arm of a circus highwire act. Over the years, he’s had several sons, from the first Robin, Dick Grayson; replacement and eventual Red Hood Jason Todd; wunderkind Tim Drake and his League of Assassins-raised spawn Damien Wayne.
But it’s that never-ending war on crime that has made the dark knight a truly terrible surrogate father to all of them. The latest in DC and Warner Bros. Animation’s line of animated films set in a very specific and shared universe, Batman: Bad Blood follows on from the events of Son of Batman and Batman vs Robin.
Much like the films that came before, Batman: Bad Blood loosely adopts elements of previous storylines, weaving in ideas from Grant Morrison’s Batman comic book run and his big idea to go global with the Caped Crusader and his Batman Incorporated initiative. But while it may be a Batman movie, this Dark Knight isn’t the star of the show.
Instead, the spotlight is on his extended family this time. With Batman missing in action, it’s up to Nightwing, Robin, Batwoman and Batwing to get to the bottom of this mystery and stop the a massively muscled Heretic and his crew. Pretty much your usual Wednesday night in Gotham City. It’s that establishment of a Gotham without the Batman that shines through an otherwise mediocre story that has to cram several years of plots and story threads into one cohesive tale over 70 minutes of slick animation and the gold standard of animated fight sequences.
The Heretic may be a lost cause and a wasted opportunity, but seeing the dynamic between Nightwing and Robin, watching Batwoman make her own rules as she sets herself apart from the “little cult” and seeing Lucius Fox’s son Luke get some inspired action sequences as Batwing with some armour that could give Iron Man a run for his money, is great entertainment.
And that’s the kind of films that these current slices of Justice League and Batman movies are lately. With a small screen adaptation of “The Killing Joke” on the way, these Batman flicks are popcorn fodder, the Fast and the Furious branch of the franchise. High stakes action, easy to pick entertainment that doesn’t require you to be well-versed in over 75 years of Batman history. And that, I can respect.
Especially when these films make up for any story issues by having action sequences that echo the current flair of having realistic yet bombastic fights between characters. There’s an absolute art to how they’re staged; two dimensional exchanges of punches and kicks that never cease to be impressive. It’s the kind of fist-pumping action that you want to see on the bigger screen, when the likes of Nightwing and Batwoman square off with a variety of acrobatics and jiu jutsu holds that get turned up to 11 when Batman is finally unleashed.
Batman: Bad Blood may not be the most in-depth examination of the weirdest family around to ever spend their nights pulverising the criminal underworld, but it’s a fun idea that makes the best of what it has to work with. Even if it does make you realise that Batman actually is a jackass of a father.
Last Updated: February 9, 2016