The Bat Family takes center stage with the latest animated DC Universe Original Movie Batman: Bad Blood, directed by DC vet Jay Oliva. The film takes some very loose inspiration from Grant Morrison’s final run as writer on DC’s Batman and Robin comic from The New 52. When Batman (Jason O’Mara) disappears and a new villain called Heretic takes aim at Gotham, the Bat Family must band together to save the city and find their missing patriarch.
You may be wondering why I said Bat Family and not just Damian and Nightwing, since they are the only characters that have existed thus far in the DCU continuity. Batman: Bad Blood takes on the hefty storytelling challenge of introducing both Kate Kane/Batwoman (Chuck‘s Yvonne Strahovski) and Luke Fox/Batwing (Friday Night Light‘s Gaius Charles) in the middle of the already established Wayne family drama.
Unfortunately, these new characters represent the least interesting parts of the film, with Luke Fox’s Batwing being nothing more than a tacked on action figure with laughable scenes and dialogue – to no fault of the normally excellent Gaius Charles.
Batwoman is actually a bit more complex and interesting, and comes with her textbook guns, grit and affection for members of the same sex. Batman: Bad Blood is indeed a mature film like the rest of the franchise and has its share of swears and blood, although nothing in the sexy department this time around.
But Batman: Bad Blood really shines in the moments with the upcoming heirs to the cowl Dick Grayson/Nightwing (Sean Maher) and Damian Wayne/Robin (Stuart Allan). Not only does Nightwing temporarily don the mantle of Batman, but he does so in a retro suit with the yellow bat-emblem. It’s pretty great.
Maher and Allan have really nailed the chemistry and relationship that Morrison created on the comic book page, and I would kill to get to see an animated spin-off series starring these two character and their voice actors fighting crime during a period where Batman is missing.
For fans wondering if a certain event happens that is very closely associated with the arrival of Heretic, I will spoil the film by saying a definitive “No.” Batman: Bad Blood is more of a conclusion to the Bat Family Saga origin tale for the DCU animated films, and a launching pad (rather than ending point) for the younger Bat members to branch out (including a surprise cameo at the very end) into the animated DC Universe Original Movie continuity.
As for the extra features packed into the Blu-Ray this time around, you’ll find the normal assortment of goodies from Warner Bros Animation including From the DC Comics Vault episodes: Batman: The Brave and the Bold: The Knights of Tomorrow and The Criss Cross Conspiracy.
Putting the Fight in Gotham is a more technical look at creating the animation that goes into each of these films, featuring some really good interviews and info for those into the artistry and craft that it takes to create these animated sequences.
Expanding the Batman Family is exactly what you’d expect, and contains more fun interviews with the actors and creative minds behind the expansion of characters in the film. Lastly, you’ll get a sneak peek at the DC Universe’s next animated movie: Justice League vs. Teen Titans that is part trailer, part behind-the-scenes for Damian’s first adventure outside of Batman’s cape.
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