[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Directed by: Jay Oliva
Written by: J.M. DeMatteis
Starring: Jason O’Mara, Stuart Allan, Morena Baccarin, Yvonne Strahovski, Sean Maher and Ernie Hudson
Original Release Date: January 19, 2016
Batman is dead! Or is he? It’s a dilemma that leaves the members of the Batman’s inner circle, his one-time partner Nightwing, his son Damian (the new Robin), and his trusted butler Alfred, wondering who is behind Bruce Wayne’s disappearance. In order to take on the rising criminal element threatening the city and get to the bottom of this latest caper, Dick Grayson assumes the cape and the cowl of his mentor and recruits Batwoman into the fold.
When Robin goes missing, kidnapped by the Heretic, an agent of his mother, Talia al Ghul, the team, with the help of the newest member of the family — Batwing, will rally to rescue the man who inspired them all in their crusade — or is Bruce Wayne now a pawn in Talia’s ruthless plan to bring down the Batman’s legacy all at once? It all comes crashing around them in the exciting DC Universe Animated Original Movie — Batman: Bad Blood.
Loosely based on Tony S. Daniel’s dramatic arc “Batman: Battle for the Cowl” which pit the members of the Batman Family against a major crime wave that cripples Gotham City, as a gang war rises to take control of the city in the absence of the Caped Crusader who has lost. That storyline led to Dick Grayson’s albeit short lived turn inheriting the role of Batman. With Damian at his side Batman and Robin continued the fight until Bruce’s return.
Continuing to expand on the narrative from its predecessor installments, Son of Batman and Batman vs. Robin, this third feature brings it all together, especially for the Batman Family. The story helps to solidify the presence of Damian Wayne as the proper successor of the mantle of Robin, while defining the mastermind threat of Talia al Ghul. Talia has always only been interested in usurping her father’s role in the League of Shadows, and now that the seat is vacant, she is determined to make it all hers.
If Batman or Robin stand in her way, then they will emerge as the first casualties of her mad scheme. Unfortunately for her, she didn’t count on Nightwing’s resourcefulness and ability to recruit a pair of wild cards into the mix. Even in a cast this big, the introduction of the enigmatic Batwoman and Batwing doesn’t feel forced, and everyone is given an opportunity to get their story into the spotlight.
Damian Wayne finally emerges as the hero that Batman has always imagined while still maintaining his diabolical edge; to his credit Robin chooses to walk on the side of the light and proves he’s his father’s son.
This definitely feels like the third part to a trilogy, and the feature benefits from screening the two previous flicks to establish a richer narrative indeed. Although Batwing looks interesting, the newest member of the family doesn’t get much screen time and feels like an attempt at mimicking the idea of another armored avenger.
While Batwoman is introduced smoothly and seamlessly enough, the idea that in her alter-ego she and Bruce Wayne are much more familiar than is expressed in the film, it’s a missing component that would have been nice to establish. Luke Fox, the son of Lucious Fox, isn’t given significant enough screen time, but then this is an animated movie after all, and not a Christopher Nolan epic.
Overall, Batman: Bad Blood emerges as one of the best in the series of movies and essential a very satisfying finale to the trilogy focused on the Batman Family and the relationship between Batman and Damian. Though we’ve seen Damian again as Robin in the Teen Titan follow-ups as well as Nightwing, Batwoman has yet to return to the scene. I’m sure that after her resonant appearance in Batman: Bad Blood it’s only a matter of time before she returns.