Son of Batman (2014)

"Every day. You have to keep your center, Damian. You can't fight crime by becoming a criminal. From now on, stay close. That's an order.""Every day. You have to keep your center, Damian. You can't fight crime by becoming a criminal. From now on, stay close. That's an order."

“Every day. You have to keep your center, Damian. You can’t fight crime by becoming a criminal. From now on, stay close. That’s an order.”

Warner and DC Comics has thus far created an expanding universe based on some of the biggest storylines created in the DC Comics universe. Son of Batman is no different than its predecessors. Based on the comic book story arc “Batman and Son” written by Grant Morrison and drawn by Andy Kubert, this short 4-part story arc further expands the universe with fan favorites from the comic book universe. Since the source material is usually shorter, the film adaptation runs shorter than a typical animated feature would since the adaptation is true to the material – page for page. 

Often with a shorter run time, a lot of story, characters, development has to be packed into each frame that might make things feel claustrophobic throughout. DC has done a stellar job with Son of Batman by not overdoing it. They expect us to have an idea of who these characters are beforehand while giving enough time to explain their backstories in a timely manner. I have never read the comic book story arc that Son of Batman is based on, but I still know who the characters are that make up its foundation from other projects. 

Son of Batman starts off with a bang, literally. Just like with the films that came before this one, the action takes center stage throughout the storyline. Being animated doesn’t necessarily make this safe to watch for kids either, there’s enough blood to give the impression of an R rated movie but because its animation, the artistic freedom can be stretched a bit. Opening the film is a deadly attack by the villainous Deathstroke (Thomas Gibson) on the League of Assassins led by Ra’s al Ghul (Giancarlo Esposito). This opening scene sets the tone for the rest of the film with steady doses of action injected throughout the short story.

“So this is the fabled Batcave. Grandfather told me about it. Smaller than I imagined. Very efficient, though.”

Batman (Jason O’ Mara) is a father, congratulations! Talia al Ghul (Morena Baccarin) definitely slipped Batman a mickey and took advantage of him. Yep, that happened and now Batman learns he has a young son named Damian (Stuart Allen) who is the heir to the League of Assassins once Ra’s dies. Damian is a unique character – being raised by assassins made him cold and distant with little to no emotional depth to him as a person. Even with how emotionless Damian is, he’s still a kid and kids are like sponges. 

All Damian knows is how to be an assassin – it’s how he’s programmed (he’s basically a robot ¾’s of the movie). Damian’s first instinct when backed into a corner is to kill – the polar opposite of everything that this iteration of Batman stands for. Fighting crime doesn’t mean you have to kill the enemy; you shouldn’t have to stoop to their level. That’s the toughest lesson Bruce attempts to teach Damian. 

Damian is a brat, he’s not likable compared to others in the bat family. Yes, he’s an assassin but give him some type of personality, some depth to him. Having Deathstroke as the main villain offers a worthy opponent, the way he plays to Damian’s weaknesses and exploits them. Damian is so set on vengeance being one sided that when he finally opens up to different possibilities his point of view of crime fighting and how his father tackles it, changes.

“I hope this isn’t too cramped for you. That door heads to your bath. The other, to a game room. And you also have this far your amusement. Naturally, you have the run of the mansion.”

The Bat family is one of the more prominent families in comic book history. Yes, there are others, but the focus is almost always centered around one or two members of the bat family when it comes to the different teams that get formed. This isn’t the first sidekick Bruce Wayne has had in this extended universe either. Son of Batman’s main focus is between Bruce and Damian and their unique and complex relationship. But then Nightwing (Sean Maher) shows up and instantly fits right into the two-person dynamic. He isn’t on screen for long, but his impact is felt by Damian. 

Being a father is a new challenge for Bruce, something he never could have imagined. The closest thing to a father Bruce has had is Alfred (David McCallum) so to see Bruce out of his element adds to the challenge. Son of Batman has a well-rounded cast of voice actors but the way the characters are written by screenwriter Joe Lansdale makes them come off too stiff. That much is expected but let the characters loosen up a bit. Batman isn’t the type of character to generate a lot of comedic moments – leave that to Alfred or Nightwing so the little humor that is in the film is a welcomed sound. 

At first Damian seems like a lost cause – his father isn’t the best role model or teacher but eventually Bruce breaks through. Maybe there’s redemption for Damian after all. Staying in Gotham might help him develop a personality, something that’s missing from his character.

Son of Batman is yet another solid entry in the “DC Animated Movie Universe”. From top to bottom, Son of Batman explores the father/son dynamic between Bruce and Damian with hopefully more to come in the future of this expanding universe. Damian is a hard character to like but he eventually becomes bearable in his first time on screen. 3 out of 5. 

So, tell me, have you seen Son of Batman and if so, what do you think about it? Do you agree or disagree with me? Comment below or send me an email and let me know what you think. 

Son of Batman is directed by Ethan Spaulding is Rated PG-13 and has a 64% on Rotten Tomatoes. Son of Batman was released on April 22, 2014 and has a runtime of 1 hour and 14 minutes. Son of Batman can be streamed on HBO Max. 

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