Batman: Bad Blood review by Mark McPherson - Cinema Paradiso
Bad Blood could better also be entitled “And The Rest” for how this film aims to trot out the rest of the Batman family. This film continues on as a sequel to the previous animated films of Son of Batman and Batman vs. Robin, both of which stress the relationship between Bruce Wayne and assassin-trained son Damian. We also got to meet the original Robin of Dick Grayson turned Nightwing in those films as well. And while the previous movies managed to find a focus for the father-son dynamic, Bad Blood sprawls out all over the place to become an overstuffed Batman movie.
Consider the opening scene where Batman and Batwoman are fighting the likes of Electrocutioner, Tusk, Firefly, Killer Moth, and many other villains. They’re all led by the masked killer known as Heretic. They aim to take over Gotham and a good start for them is killing Batman. So the story is essentially about who will step into the shoes of saving Gotham with no Batman about. It’s essentially the same story as The Death of Superman arc in the comics. And just like that arc, too many characters come into play that nearly rob the story of any meaningful observation on the caped crusader.
And, yes, I’m aware of the run that this comic book was semi-based on, proceeding after the events of Final Crisis. But I recall that arc being rather despised among the many who read it. The primary disapproval relates how such a story stages the Gotham fill-ins while finding a weird way to bring Batman from the dead. It’s also one of the reasons why Batman’s zombie inclusion in the Blackest Night event comic book series felt like a cheating red herring.
Setting comics lore aside, the film manages to be a tad less messy in how it establishes the many Batman substitutes. Batwoman is given enough of a backstory to be invested in how she came about and what she struggles with within her career in vigilantism. Damian finds his way back into Gotham with an organic means of returning, even if it does mean once more forcing the League of Assassins into the story. Other characters are just sort of there as Nightwing always seems present and the coming of Batwing is such a last-minute addition that he feels like more of an afterthought to cram as much Batman into this movie as possible. Oh, and Batgirl is just kinda there.
The action that proceeds is at least more exciting than Son of Batman and on par with Batman vs. Superman. The problem is that the writing doesn’t carry as heavy a punch. I dug how incorporating Talia into the mix makes Damian’s involvement more conflicted about the battle but crowding the story with too many Bat-people just seems to clutter up this film. Considering the DC animated movies tend usually run 90 minutes or less, it doesn’t bode well for such a film that wants to have a thematic focus on Damian getting over his mother’s harmful ways.
Bad Blood isn’t bad enough to be the worst Batman entry of the DC Animated Movie Universe but it’s by far the most chaotic. It crams way too much extra stuff into a story that could’ve made for a compelling trilogy to Damian Wayne’s arc. The final scene of all the Bats dashing off to stop a crime gave of 1997 Batman & Robin vibes, that sensation of a film being overblown to the point of being obscured in anything it’s trying to get across the screen.