Caped Crusades Review of ‘Son of Batman’!


I admit that it’s a little late, but in the immortal words of Cheech Marin from Ghostbusters 2, “better late than never”. It’s your Caped Crusades review of Son of Batman!

Having read the comics this is adapted from, I wasn’t really sure what to expect. Writer Grant Morrison has a unique vision when it comes to superhero adventures. He tends to pine for and reinvent the more absurd end of the comic spectrum from the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s when plots were outlandish and lacked the “grit” of modern comics. If you’ve ever read his All-Star Superman, you’ll understand what I mean. This isn’t always a negative, nor is it always a positive, it’s just the context in which we have to view his work.

Not knowing which direction the filmmakers would take, I had fully braced myself for having to explain and/or apologize for Man-Bat Ninjas in the middle of a serious film to my girlfriend, who was watching it with me. I’m happy to say, however, that this movie did enough to set a serious tone that nearly all of the outlandish elements could be taken in the vein in which they were intended.

From the opening scene at Ra’s Al Ghul’s mountain lair, Son of Batman goes out of its way to give the audience the kind of Batman story that Christopher Nolan executed so masterfully with the first in his trilogy. It has a distinct Last Airbender vibe, mixing a vague but not stereotypical Asian aesthetic with an empathetic mentor/apprentice relationship between Ra’s and his grandson Damian. The al Ghul family dynamic muddles the role of villain, never really condemning or even criticizing the purpose of al Ghul’s League of Assassins.

Nearly immediately after the stage is set, the film shatters the serenity and sets the tone. Fast paced and frenetic, the action sequences are surprisingly violent, while the main plot’s execution is surprisingly adult. It spans a good portion of the Bat-universe, from Kirk Langford (Man-Bat) to Killer Croc to Deathstroke and a great appearance by Dick Grayson.

Using Bruce Wayne’s metaphorical son to juxtapose against his literal one allows us to delve into Batman’s dysfunctional family issues and the complexity of his motivations. The fact that Nightwing was provided a moral compass by Bruce, while still being coerced into the vigilante lifestyle, placed side-by-side with Damian’s special cut-throat set of values provided by Ra’s al Ghul, paints a nuanced picture of Batman’s delicate balance between justice and revenge.

Such a reverent approach to the characters involved allows the viewer to forgive (at worst) or accept (at best) things like giant Man-Bat Ninjas and embrace the story presented. Sure, the voice acting may leave something to be desired, but a strong plot and excellent animation make Son of Batman one of DC’s best animated films thus far. I recommend it to any Bat-fan.