Since the mid-2000s, DC Entertainment has been absolutely killing it in film animation. Contrasting the more kid-friendly cartoon series that the company has produced since the conclusion of its highly popular DC Animated Universe, the animated films have, mostly, taken on a much darker tone that have allowed for the exploration of more adult storylines and content than television would allow. These films, dubbed “DC Universe Animated Original Movies,” stood outside of any established continuity from the outset, and no two films were connected in any real way. That all changed with the 2014 release of Justice League: War, which, after the events of Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox, established a true animated film universe that has continued over multiple films. So far, the entries into this universe have been Justice League: War, Son of Batman, Justice League: Throne of Atlantis, and last year’s Batman vs. Robin, and the universe has grown once again with the newest release, Batman: Bad Blood.
The story of Batman: Bad Blood deals with the aftermath and mystery behind Batman’s disappearance following an attack by a new villain with an enigmatic agenda named Heretic. The only witness to his presumed death is Batwoman (Kate Kane), who has recently taken up the mantle with the help of her father. The disappearance of Batman (and Bruce Wayne) prompts Alfred to call in some help, leading Robin (Damien Wayne, Bruce’s son) to return from his seclusion and training in Tibet (as seen at the end of Batman vs. Robin) and Nightwing (Dick Grayson) to temporarily wear the cape and cowl in order to bring the symbol of the Batman back to Gotham City. Through the course of the film, we also see the introduction of Batwing (Luke Fox, the son of Lucius Fox) to the newly-expanded Bat Family, and the final scene of the film even brings an unexpected A-list character into the new continuity for the very first time.
While the two previous Batman-centric films in-continuity have had their merits, it’s easy to see that Batman: Bad Blood is the strongest of the three. The biggest reason for this, perhaps, is the fact that it expands its focus to the entire Bat Family instead of just focusing on Bruce Wayne. Batman has always been my favorite superhero, but even I feel a little bit of fatigue for the character’s solo adventures (which is one reason that I’m so excited about the upcoming Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice). Sidelining Bruce allows for development of his great supporting cast, and it’s so much fun to finally see Batwoman and Batwing take center stage in a medium outside of comics. Dick Grayson is also given due justice, and Batman: Bad Blood is more a story about him than any other character. It’s great getting the chance to see him take on the mantle of Batman (which is one of my favorite runs ever from the comics), and the writing for the film gives the decision and his actions proper emotional weight. Damien is also as great as ever, and it’s very easy to see why fans of Batman have become so invested in this newest Robin. Damien’s story has been a huge focus of all three Batman-related films in this continuity, and his progression in Batman: Bad Blood feels natural to what we’ve gotten to see of him before.
The voice cast for the film is as outstanding as you would expect, with the returning cast once again proving why they were chosen for their characters. In addition, Yvonne Strahovski is wonderful as Kate Kane, and I really hope that Batwoman appears again in later films so that we can get more of Strahovski’s in the role. The only negative for me for Batman: Bad Blood is that it features a lot of Batman’s rogues gallery, and only the couple that were absolutely vital to the story were given adequate development. The rest were definitely wasted and could have easily been replaced by more generic creations, and I hope that their appearance here doesn’t rule them out for later films. I also didn’t like the conclusion to the stories of a couple of characters important to Damien’s story, and I do hope that his story later on doesn’t suffer for it.
Overall, Batman: Bad Blood is, arguably, one of the best films from the established continuity, and its strong use of a great supporting cast makes it stand out among all of the films that have been released under the DC Universe Animated Original Movies moniker.
Batman: Bad Blood is available now on iTunes and Google Play, and the film releases on DVD and Blu-Ray on February 2, 2016. What are your thoughts on Batman: Bad Blood? Let us know down below!