Hey gang, Valkor here. When DC/WB switched up their animated verse to match that of the new DC 52 comic book series, I was all for it. The new series was a great way to jumpstart/streamline the older series into a more modern world, yet staying true to the source. With that, the new films also help to introduce a newer audience unfamiliar with this new universe or to reintroduce this new world to fans who may have been out of touch as of late. Next up for the DCU is Son of Batman, a film I’ve so been looking forward to since it was announced. While the comic takes place before the 52 series, this one fits in with the new universe just right. Read on!
Son of Batman opens with Ra’s Al Ghul (Giancarlo Esposito), along with daughter Talia (Morena Baccarin) and grandson Damian (Stuart Allan), overlooking his army – the League of Assassins. Suddenly, they come under fire by former league member Deathstroke (Thomas Gibson). Ra’s suffers a fatal blow, and Deathstroke and Damian go toe to toe in a heated sword fight. Damian gains the upper hand, taking out Deathstroke’s eye and forcing him and his army to retreat. With the fall of Ra’s Al Ghul, Talia decides to take Damian to Gotham City… to meet his father - Batman.
We switch back to Gotham, where Batman is duking it out with Killer Croc. It looks as though Croc is about to score a victory until Talia steps in, shocking him from behind. She takes Batman back to her boat where they reminisce of a past instant where the two shared a moment, which leads into the introducuction of son Damian. She informs him of Ra’s death and that he is the only one who can protect their son. So Bruce takes him in and while the kid is a bit aggressive and a brat, he takes well into his new surroundings, going so far as to show off his skills in the Wayne garden.
Meanwhile, Deathstroke kidnaps Dr. Kirk Langstrom (Xander Berkley) aka the former Man-Bat, who was working on a project for Ra’s. Using his family as insurance, Kirk is forced to continue and amp up his work for Deathstroke. This project fuses animal DNA with that of humans to create the ultimate army. It then becomes a race for Batman and his new Robin sidekick to track down Deathstroke before his plan comes into fruition.
While Batman and Son the comic premiered before the new DC 52 kickoff, this new animated feature looks to be set within the DC 52 film series, which you can tell from Batman’s armored costume – and I ain’t even mad about that. Look for brief cameos from Batman’s rogue gallery and stick around through the end credits to catch stills of the Damian/Nightwing fight. I love these adaptations of the comic book series and I think we can all agree the next series to get the treatment should be “Night of the Owls”. However the follow-up film to Son of Batman in the DCU lineup will be "Batman Assault on Arkham". Man I gotta finish up the City and Origins games before this new film and new game launches.
Son of Batman stays the course in following the DC animated films such as The Flashpoint Paradox and Justice League War in that you get the same anime art style with a mature theme. The adaptation is loosely based from the comic “Batman and Son”, but it does capture the spirit of the series while creating something fresh and exciting. The plot is gripping, violent, intense with a dose of sexy and playfulness sprinkled throughout. The action scenes are nicely done and they pull no punches in terms of how far these characters will go; enemies are impaled, Deathstroke loses and eye, Talia gets shot, and Croc gets his tail ripped off – you won’t find such edginess in any animated TV series. And I’m proud that DC/Warner are pushing the envelope in just how far they're willing to go in terms of these direct-to-video treatments. Damian is the heart of the film; I loved to hate his character in the comics because he was such a brat. It’s nice to see that the character translates well into the film as he’s just as much of a snot-nosed, arrogant brat. Huge props go out to Stuart Allan as his raspy voice work matches perfectly with the character. Also Jason O’Mara’s continues growing on me as he’s proving to be the perfect choice for the role of Batman/Bruce Wayne and even adds some subtle improvements to the character such as additional raspiness to his Batman voice. In the end, Son of Batman serves up some awesome action and an excellent story, proving once again DC/Warner owns the animated film-verse.
My one major gripe is with the voice cast – especially Ra’s and Deathstroke. While Ra’s role is rather brief, Deathstroke is more prominent. Thomas Gibson isn’t terrible, but he’s not “menacing” enough for the character. But other than O’Mara and Allan, the rest of the cast comes across as… bland.
Son of Batman hits the shelves and the digital scene on May 6th and its definitely worth checking out, especially if you’re a fan of the DC animated film-verse; a gripping yet entertaining story mixed in with stunning animation and superb action makes this film a can’t miss. And out of TOV 5 stars, Son of Batman gets a 4. Night of the Owls… make it happen!