I never remember these when I think about doing reviews. I do plenty of TV reviews and comic reviews and book reviews and movie reviews, but when it comes to animation, I tend to go blank and that’s not a good thing. DC animation has been something that, at least at the beginning, was always amazing and something to look forward to, but as time has gone on, it’s become rather hit and miss in both animation quality and writing. This time though, with Batman: Bad Blood, I wanted to take a look at the story and animation of this direct-to-Bluray and digital download release and see if DC Animation still has it.
When Batman vanishes following an explosion, the world assumes he’s dead, but in fact, he’s been taken prisoner by a mysterious villain called Heretic. Anxious to keep the Batman mythos alive, Dick Grayson dons the Batman cowl to convince people that Batman, at least in spirit, is still around. But can they rescue the real Batman from Heretic and with the help of new friends, save the day?
This is the first animated appearance of Batwoman and Batwing, which is really nice, as well as a continuing storyline in the DC Animated Universe that started off with Justice League: War and has run through last year’s Son of Batman and Batman vs. Robin. Instead of just doing stand-alone stories, the DC Animated Universe has taken a page from the Marvel Cinematic Universe and started telling ongoing stories in movie form. As much as Batman has been a central character in most of the previous outings, this time they chose to push him to the sidelines for most of the movie, instead focusing on Nightwing, the newest Robin, Batman’s son Damien, Batwoman and Lucius Fox’s son who become Batwing. All of these characters are wonderful, I paid special attention to Batwoman, although unfortunately, they paid extraordinary attention to her sexuality. We get it. She’s gay. It has nothing whatsoever to do with the story. You don’t have to keep bringing it up! Still, the voice actress, Yvonne Strahovski, did a fantastic job, as I expected her to, I really loved her in Chuck and she hasn’t lost a beat.
To be honest, I’m not a huge Batman fan, I’ve enjoyed Nightwing much more, and his current comic series Grayson is really fantastic, as I’ve already said in reviews. That said though, I think Batman was really effective here, mostly because he wasn’t the center of attention. He got to play the gruff old hero that everyone looked up to, but it allowed the characters to act on their own and still succeed without Batman critiquing their every move. You even got to see some good emotional moments between Bruce Wayne and Damien over the supposed and entirely off-screen death of his mother (come on, she’ll be back, nobody ever dies in a comic book).
One thing that bugged me a little throughout was the absence of BatGirl, although she showed up with a momentary cameo in the end, I wish they had said something about where she was, she is an integral part of the Bat Family and her absence, even if probably for the best considering the number of characters already involved, was definitely noticed. Still, they gave her the costume that she started with instead of what it has evolved into in the comics, just like they made Batwing close to the original form, rather than the Batman Beyond form that it would eventually become.
If you’ve been keeping tabs on the DC Animated Universe, you’ve already seen this and probably loved it like I did. If not, then you really need to get up to speed, go back and watch the earlier films I mentioned and then dive in here. You can enjoy them separately, but it adds something, just as it does in the MCU, to see them all in order as a cohesive work. Great animation quality, fantastic story, wonderful characterizations, you can’t miss this one.