New Batman Animated Movie Does Dick Grayson Justice

New Batman Animated Movie Does Dick Grayson Justice

The Dark Knight is a terrible dad, generally way too busy brooding and fighting crime to utter "I love you." In his newest animated movie, his family has to save his life. Does he say thank you? C'mon, of course not. Batman: Bad Blood is the finale of a trilogy loosely based off of story arcs centred on Damian Wayne, the son of Bruce Wayne and Talia, daughter of criminal mastermind Ra's Al Ghul. Over the course of a number of years, various intertwined arcs written by Grant Morrison introduced Damian, killed off Bruce Wayne and had Dick Grayson step into his mentor's cowl. The basic structure of this extended story remains in the movie adaptation but the story surrounding them is radically different, with some plot beats thrown out or majorly re-worked.

One of the best parts of the Bat-mythos is the idea of the Batman family. Over the course of 75-plus years of publishing history, the character who started off as a grim loner became father figure and inspiration for a whole crew of crusaders. The prevailing current-day understanding of the Dark Knight is that he's ultra-obsessed and emotionally unavailable. Given how closed off he is, there's a dark irony to the fact that he's got adoptive and biological offspring who came of age in his shadow.

The previous two movies, Son of Batman and Batman vs. Robin, cast Deathstroke as a would-be successor to Ra's Al Ghul, killed off that near-immortal Bat-villain and incorporated elements of the Court of Owls storyline. Bad Blood opens with a high-octane confrontation between Tusk, Killer Moth, Firefly, Executioner and a bunch of other mid-level villains. Batman and Batwoman jaw at each other while taking out the super-thugs, only to be interrupted by a big bruiser wearing a gimp-mask version of Batman's cowl. Things escalate and a massive explosion flings Batwoman away from the site of battle. Caught in the huge conflagration, Batman goes missing for two weeks.

In that time, the Heretic (the overly muscled Bat-wannabe from the first fight) has been amassing ill-gotten gains and tech with his super-powered crew. Nightwing, Batwoman, Damian Wayne and Lucius Fox all spin their wheels with worry in the Dark Knight's absence until Dick Grayson decides to step into his mentor's boots.

As the plot unfolds, some of the best moments from Morrison's Damian opus get trotted out. We see the first Boy Wonder masquerading as Batman and verbally sparring with the newest kid to wear the red tunic. Beats like that sit alongside newer exchanges, like the fractious partnership between the Grayson Batman and Batwoman. Voiced by Yvonne Strahoski, the Batwoman in Bad Blood uses guns in her war on crime, a big no-no for most members of the Bat-family. That nod to the character's military service is nestled into a stripped-down version of Kate Kane's backstory. Batwoman comes off a great foil to the new Dynamic Duo, a character who diverges from the Bruce Wayne school of punching bad guys. She's not emotionally connected to Batman and disses Dick Grayson for being wrapped around the Bat's finger. "Just because I wear this [touches Bat-symbol] doesn't mean I'm part of your little cult," she says.

Luke Fox -- son of Wayne Tech head honcho Lucius Fox -- isn't part of that cult either. But Bad Blood sees him donning technologically advanced armour to become Batwing after his dad gets hurt by the Heretic's gang. He gets a handful of cool action sequences but nothing about his dialogue stands out. Along with Batwoman's chip-on-the-shoulder standoffishness, the characterisation of Nightwing is a high point in Bad Blood. He's got the same fetching combo of filial Bat-angst, devil-may-care breeziness and compassionate empathy that's made him a fan favourite.

Usually, when Batman shares adventures with various members of his family, the dynamic is about who needs whom more. Does Batman need Nightwing as a tether to humanity more than Nightwing needs acceptance from his mentor? Here, the answer is a gruffly conceded draw. Bruce is in super-arsehole form after he gets rescued but acknowledges by the movie's end that he does in fact have a family around him. Bad Blood ends with a blink-and-you'll-miss-it teaser of another member of the Bat-family, which suggests that we might see more of Batman being the unlikeliest paterfamilias of all.


Comments

    These are like, under-rated as all get-out.

    While I didn't think the last couple 'Direct to Video' DC toon movies were that crash-hot, as an overall body of work they're quite excellent.

    If you can, check out the Wonder Woman one, and perhaps New Frontier. Green Lantern First Flight is also superb.

    I am not so keen on the upcoming Killing Joke adaptation either. Leaving aside all the discussion about the original Moore story, they will apparently be bolting on a new and different plot to it like they did with Superman Doomsday (the inaugural one of these, which was an okay start, but definitely hokey).

    But anyway, these don't seem as well-known as they perhaps should be what with superhero fever everywhere.

    It's like watching the now-ancient animated series in their heyday and wondering why more people weren't watching them.

    Not to mention, live action Supergirl, right now. That show is absolutely on fire. Yet, on sites like this, crickets!

      I am really enjoying these DC Movies. I can't recommend Under the Red Hood or Assault on Arkham highly enough.

      I have watched most of the DC related animated titles, but I think the issue is that the directors take TOO many liberties when it comes to taking amazing comics and kinda making them less interesting.

      Looking back my favourite would be Under the Redhood; while there were some changes the key plot points were the same as the comic. That being said Bad Blood was really nice; my only fault with it would have been them not killing off Damian to making the upcoming movies more interesting.

      Just kinda waiting here for them to reintroduce the best Robins (Jason and Tim).

      Agreed, they've been almost uniformly great for the last 5 yrs or so, like u said a couple were a bit average, albeit with bitching animation.
      Of course there's been a little too much focus on batman though, imo anyway.
      If you guys dig those animated films then heck out the two seasons of young justice, it had a pretty good first season, but the second is really great, and as it skips time in between you could even start there. I'm pissed a third season was never made. Booooo

        Ah, yes.

        Young Justice.

        It's too bad piracy of entertainment doesn't affect the production and commercial aspects of creating such entertainment *otherwise the amount of interest in that show would have kept it alive.

        *Piracy of entertainment does indeed have a monetary effect on the creation of that entertainment.

        The creative team behind Young Justice is outright begging its fans to buy the blu-rays and watch the seasons newly available on Netflix because while it was in active production, no tweens bought the action figures and its older demographic saw fit to just torrent each episode.

        It's pretty easy to tell if you've seen Batman Bad Blood legitimately this fast, as well.

        I hope you all buy it.

          Oh wow now I feel bad. And I just made a comment about piracy on this website saying I've never really seen piracy directly be responsible for the discontinuation of something, I mean I'm sure there are many examples but I didn't know of many...now I do.
          But still, I would have thought it would have relied on ratings and networks paying for more episodes, not the sale of action figures, that in reality stand little chance when there's a vast array of more compelling DC characters to choose from.
          Anyway, kinda sucks.

          I was under the impression that Young Justice was cancelled because of the delay in production. This cause a change of time slots and showing out of continuity and massive delays on TV. in turn, this meant lack of a solid following even though the show itself was one of the best.

    Spoiler Alert: It doesn't.

    The recent animated films especially the ones with Damian-centric ones suck big time. The Gods and Monsters or whatever it's called was good.

    Tell me which movies to watch! Assume I haven't seen any of these animated films.

      In order that I would watch them if I hadn't already;
      -Son of Batman (it is the start of the current run of movies)
      -Batman: Assault on Arkham
      -Batman: Under the Red Hood (it is out of continuity, but it is REALLY good)
      -Batman vs. Robin (is kinda meh, waste of an amazing set of "recent" comics)
      -Batman: Bad Blood (quite good, does a LOT of world building, but like the previous movie wasted some exceptional plot points from the comics)

      If you want some additional stuff throw in;
      -Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox (Great take on the last real reboot)
      -Justice League: Gods and Monsters (not affiliated with current continuity, but a great watch regardless, also pick up the Machinima shorts that give a great introduction to the characters)

      There are some great movies in there and the next couple of movies coming out soon look to be interesting too.

        Cool, thanks, that's somewhere to start.

        I have seen flashpoint paradox, planet hulk, and some fairly ordinary Dr strange film. Flashpoint was really quite good.

          Yeah the marvel ones are pretty terrible.

            It is one of the few things that DC does really well over Marvel right now.

    It absolutely doesn't. We're long past the point in any universe where Dick Grayson wouldn't be able to hold his own convincingly against Batman or utterly trounce Lame-ian, and yet in the current continuity of DC Animated movies he can't do either.

      He couldn't beat Bruce in current continuity, post crisis maybe; but in the New 52 continuity no way. He couldn't even be considered one of the best fighters in the Bat Family.

      Dick Grayson is a great leader don't get me wrong, but each of the other members are better in their own field (they even allude to this in the current comics);
      -Dick is the leader.
      -Jason is the soldier.
      -Tim is the detective (practical).
      -Babs is the OTHER detective (cunning/manipulation).
      -Damian is the abortion that should have happened.

        To be clear, I didn't want him to win - because that would never be allowed to happen. All it would have taken to get me on board is for the dislocated arm to have been Bruce's instead of Dick's. You follow that up with Bruce grudgingly ackowledging he's good enough to get a hit in on the Bat, and suddenly Dick actually has a character arc in this movie. Damian, though, should have got his arse kicked in the other movie. Fingers crossed Rebirth flushes the popped-collar-52 down the drain (...it won't).

        Last edited 05/02/16 5:33 pm

          Maybe but I think the reason Bruce wins so easily is that he doesn't have his emotions, Talia took away his reasoning and thus shows what a Bruce with no issues about hurting people would do. Where as Dick still has to hold back.

          That being said the same thing can be said for Son of Batman; Dick would never purposely go out of his way to hurt a kid so naturally he holds back and just tries to disarm him; meanwhile Damian is a little shit and has no issues with hurting those around him.

    I'll be downloading Bad Blood later this weekend off iTunes. I've had a love hate relationship with the recent few years of the DC animated movies. Some are really good, while others are dull and completely fall flat within twenty minutes. It's mostly been since beginning the New 52 continuity. As I said, some good, some bad.

    Last edited 05/02/16 7:40 pm

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