DVD Review - Batman: Bad Blood

Warner Bros. Animation and DC Comics have been releasing direct-to-video movies for almost ten years now. The titles are collectively known as the DC Universe Animated Original Movies, aka DCUA. This movie was the 24th in that series. Many of them are stand-alone or self-contained stories, assuming one knows the basics about the major characters like Superman. This one, however, is a direct sequel to two previous in the DCUA, specifically Son of Batman (2014) and Batman Vs. Robin (2015). This movie came out on February 2, 2016 on DVD and Blu-ray. It preceded Batman: The Killing Joke, which I reviewed last year. This one was simply overlooked.

Written by J.M. DeMatteis, the writer of the previous Batman in the DCUA, and directed by Jay Oliva who has directed seven previous titles in the DCUA, this movie gives us the first version of Batwoman. She's just like Batman, except she's more slender, sleek and agile. She differs mainly in that she uses a gun against adversaries. She's also a lesbian. Since 2014, the CW shows like Arrow and Supergirl have done a good job of integrating queer characters. This is arguably the first, queer character to lead a movie in the animated world.

Yvonne Strahovski (Dexter and Chuck) voices Kate Kane aka Batwoman. Her father is Jacob Kane, a colonel, which is where Kate probably gets her military training. Her father knows about her alter ego and vigilantism. He apparently supports it. She even goes out on dates with women. She later in the night prowls Gotham City beating up criminals and bad guys. What makes this movie a bit different is Batwoman is in a leading role. Batman disappears for a large chunk of this movie.

Sean Maher (Firefly and The Playboy Club) voices Dick Grayson, the adopted son of Bruce Wayne who is trained to be Batman's sidekick, Robin, until he grows up and becomes his own man. He develops the persona of Nightwing as well-trained as Batman.

Stuart Allan voices Damian Wayne, the biological son of Bruce Wayne who still hasn't hit puberty. He's probably only 12 or 13. His mother is Talia al Ghul and raised him as part of the League of Assassins. He breaks away and becomes the new Robin.

Both Nightwing and Robin work alongside Batwoman to fill the void that was made when Batman disappears. The dynamics of which are interesting, but they're not explored to any depth. The movie diverts from that to provide yet another origin story for yet another member of the Batman team.

Gaius Charles (Friday Night Lights and Grey's Anatomy) voices Luke Fox, the son of Lucius Fox, the business manager at Wayne Enterprises who secretly supplies Batman with all his technology. Luke also has military training. He even wants to return to the army in spite of his father who'd rather Luke work for Bruce Wayne. Luke does become aware of new technology at Wayne Enterprises, including a robotic suit that can fly and shoot weapons. Luke takes the suit to become Batwing.

It's interesting to see an origin story for a black superhero. It was essentially the same thing that we saw in Captain America: Civil War with regard to the character known as Black Panther. At this point though, comic book characters all have analogous or closely similar, origin stories, or at least patterns repeat all the time.

I appreciate Batwing, but his story detracts from Batwoman who is arguably the more interesting character here. Her insistence on using a gun is never really a question or that much a point of debate. It's a handy tool. The morality of it is passed over though and not brought to bear with her. Instead, the movie pivots to another morality issue.

Batman doesn't carry a gun because allegedly he never kills. Batman is also all about family. This movie tries to turn all that on its head. The movie turns Batman against his family. He goes against Nightwing, Robin and even Alfred, his loyal butler. Unfortunately, this turn against his family is only good for one fight scene at the end. It's not fleshed out for maximum or even significant, psychological impact. It never feels as emotionally strong as fighting a loved one as in Captain America: Civil War.

Rated PG-13 for violence and some suggestive content.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 13 mins.

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