Turns out, creating an expansive universe with lush characters and lore plucked from page to adapt them on screen is pretty easy. Marvel has done it, and so has DC. Not so much with their live action films but with their animated ones that are being cranked out to the public on a conveyor belt 2-3 times a year. It’s obvious, I should assume that Batman is the odds-on favorite superhero of majority of the humans walking this earth, so to focus all efforts to explore the rich mythology of the Batman has proved fruitful up to this point. After all, Batman stories are constantly being told more so than Superman because of the nature of his character. Even with live action Batman is constantly being reimagined.
Batman: Bad Blood is the third standalone-ish Batman story within this DC animated universe. What the predecessors have done well up to this point all centers around consistency. It’s what keeps a universe alive especially if the quality is high and the fanbase is responding to it. What has also been established well within this trilogy are the characters that only continue to expand the universe further. Since the bat family is the most recognizable among casual and hardcore fans, there should be no debate that the ancillary characters belong in sharing the screen with the Dark Knight.
Batman: Bad Blood takes what foundation was laid by Son of Batman and Batman vs. Robin and builds on it. Two new members of the bat family are introduced here: Kate Kane/Batwoman (Yvonne Strahovski) and Luke Fox/Batwing (Gaius Charles). Along with returning characters and voice actors, Dick Grayson/Nightwing (Sean Maher), and Damian Wayne (Stuart Allen), the four look into Batman’s (Jason O’Mara) disappearance. Last seen fighting a villain known as the Heretic (Travis Willingham), Batman saves Batwoman’s life before being taken.
“I’m more Batman than you will ever be. Just follow my lead.”
We’ve seen it done before – bringing in brand new characters already established in the universe and give them a brief origin story so the casual fan can easily follow along. Batman: Bad Blood uses this trope in a way that makes sense to the story that’s being told. It’s quick, to the point and the pacing never misses a beat. One could argue against this trope for Batman: Bad Blood since unlike its predecessors the film isn’t based off a singular story arc that takes place in the comics rather inspiration is taken from multiple story arcs. In this case the consistency could have taken a hit and given full origin stories for its new characters and villain for that matter.
Heretic isn’t the only villain here – if he was this wouldn’t have been as good a movie. He’s the immovable object that doesn’t have much development to his character which in the end isn’t that big of a deal. The person holding his leash, Talia Al Ghul (Morena Baccarin) is the brains behind the villains’ motivations. The bad thing is, it’s not fully explained until halfway through the 72-minute runtime. At least screenwriter J.M. DeMatteis added some depth to Talia’s character in her motivation even if it comes in on the weaker side.
The biggest improvement in Batman: Bad Blood surrounds Damian. When we first meet Damian in Son of Batman, his arrogance and robotic nature overshadows what his character is meant to be. Here, Damian is much easier to ingest as a character. His growth is exponential with the impact that Bruce has made on his life and outlook on fighting crime. And it’s because of that change in Damian that sets off Talia on her mission for the perfect son. If you think about it, this trilogy is really Damian’s story, not Batman’s and it works well within the universe. Bruce and Damian’s relationship is fascinating to get to explore rather than Batman and Nightwing or Batman and Jason Todd or Tim Drake. At first both were polar opposites of each other in how they approach crime fighting and now Bruce’s moral code has become Damian’s moral code. He’s the best of both Talia and Bruce and that infuriates Talia.
“Actually, I think he’s more than capable of fooling most people. And you’re certainly not gonna pass for Batman, short stack.”
Even with Talia acting as the main villain, why are so many villains being used in each film? It’s not only the A-lister’s either, the B, C, and D-list villains are thrown in there to see how overstuffed the film can feel. There are some that don’t have any purpose and the rogue’s gallery only stretches so far. I understand the need for Mad Hatter (Robin Atkin Downes) but isn’t Talia capable enough to do all this on her own?
Batman: Bad Blood continues the consistent stellar action scenes. It’s something the universe and previous films have done well, and the quality of the action is only getting better from here along with the animation. The story is pretty decent, Nightwing putting on the cowl is something comic book fans can geek out on but what would have been more poignant of a story is a continuation of the Court of Owls storyline. The mythology runs deep through Gotham leaving so much to be explored beyond a one off 70-minute-long animated feature.
So, tell me, have you seen Batman: Bad Blood 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.
Batman: Bad Blood is written by J. M. DeMatteis, directed by Jay Oliva is Rated PG-13 and has a 100% on Rotten Tomatoes. Batman: Bad Blood was released on January 19, 2016 and has a runtime of 1 hour and 12 minutes. Batman: Bad Blood can be streamed on HBO Max. 3 out of 5.