Batman vs Robin (2015)
- Jason O’Mara – Bruce Wayne/Batman
- Sean Maher – Dick Grayson/Nightwing
- Stuart Allen – Damian Wayne/Robin
- Weird Al Yankovic – Dollmaker
- Jeremy Sisto – Talon
- David McCallum – Alfred
- Grey Griffin – Samantha
- Kevin Conroy – Thomas Wayne
Plot: Bruce Wayne and Damian struggle to get along as father and son in and out of costume while the mythical Court of Owls separately woos both of them to join their ranks.
This is the latest offering from DC Animation’s foray into the New 52 Continuity. It picks up some time after last year’s Batman and Son (which was based on a pre-New 52 story but was used to set up this New 52 Batman animated world), and is very loosely based on the Court of Owls arc from the New 52 Batman comic series. Do not come into this looking for a straight Court of Owls adaptation; that storyline ran for almost a year and crossed over into multiple Batman-related series. You’re not going to squeeze that into a hour and 20 minute movie. So they borrowed some elements from it and put them into an original movie. And once again this movie is not for young kids. There’s a lot of killing and other violence along with some language, so keep that in mind before you sit down with your five year old to watch it.
The movie starts off with Batman and Robin staking out a facility being used by the Dollmaker. Dollmaker might very well be ahead of the Joker on the “Villains Batman should violate his code and get it over with” rankings, and they give you just enough to see why. Damian, having first been trained by the League of Assassins and Ra’s Al Ghul, is still struggling with Batman’s no killing rule. He sees no reason why someone as sick as the Dollmaker should simply be cuffed and carted off to Arkham just so they can end up back on the streets committing the same heinous acts all over again. Dollmaker ends up dead, but not by Damian’s hand, and the Dynamic Duo head back to Gotham.
As the story unfolds the Court of Owls, a secret society that claims to run Gotham behind the shadows, has their eyes on both Bruce Wayne and Damian, but for different reasons. Bruce Wayne is one of Gotham’s elite so the Court is seeking him as a member, but Damian is being sought out to become one of it’s Talons, a kind of zombie assassin force. Bruce goes out as Batman to look into them after one of their Talons leaves a clue behind at Dollmaker’s place and finds himself in an almost fatal conflict with a group of them. The same Talon that killed Dollmaker covertly reached out to Damian with an offer to join him and mete out true justice to those who deserve it in Gotham.
The rest of the movie goes through Bruce and Damian struggling through trying to make a relationship together as father and son. Damian tries to weigh the pros and cons of joining the Talons while going through pre-teen rebellion and just wanting to his father to trust him enough to not imprison him in their own home when they’re not out fighting crime. And Bruce is dealing with his own obsessive need for control over everything while he’s trying to uncover and bring down the Court of Owls. There are some other agnedas at play as well. The Talon who recruited Damian has his own agenda for both Damian and the Court, and Samantha is using her relationship with Bruce to manipulate him into joining the Court. It all climaxes in a violent, bloody showdown at the Court’s meeting place that spills over into the Batcave in spectacular fashion.
So how was it? On it’s own I thought it was very good, another win for DC animation. One might be upset that they didn’t follow the Court of Owls story from the comics but like I said earlier that would require squeezing almost a year long arc into an hour and 20 minutes. They re-purpose some elements of the story for the movie and those were done well. I found Damian’s voice to be somewhat annoying at times but reading the comic you forget that he’s so young at times so you have to take that in stride. I like the inclusion of NIghtwing in the two movies so far but I think it’s time to introduce some more of the family. Based on the way things are portrayed so far you would think that there is no Tim Drake or Batgirl in this world to speak of. That’s important since in the comics Nightwing is the one Damian eventually bonds with the best and right now that character is serving as a mashup of the all the former partners re: the relationship between Damian and Batman’s associates.
The other thing I will reiterate is that this is NOT a kid’s movie. There’s blood and violence and a few curse words; that’s no big deal for me as an adult but you should know that before you buy it and bring home a DVD to leave laying around. The New 52 DC animated world has been pretty firmly planted in PG-13 land so if you’ve been watching them you won’t be surprised but if you’re new to it be forewarned. These animated films have served as a placeholder of sorts as we wait for Dawn of Justice to hit the theaters next year and they’ve done that quite well. It won’t be the same as seeing our DC favorites live on a big screen in 2016 but will have to suffice for now. So I do recommend this one; I liked it better than Batman and Son but not quite as much as Assault on Arkham. And hopefully we’ll get some expansion of the Bat-world with some more supporting characters next time.