If there is one thing I have always been upfront about, it’s that despite Marvel’s undeniable domination at the box office with their live-action films, DC have always had the animation sector locked down. Since 2007, DC’s stable of ‘Animated Original Movies’ have retold timeless stories first seen in comics (Superman’s death in Doomsday; Batman’s origins in Year One) but it’s very rare that we get to see a fresh story written directly for a film.
Batman: Bad Blood isn’t based on any comic storyline, but is kept in line with the established universe that the former films have created.
When Batman and Batwoman crash a weapons deal involving a ragtag group of villains, the operation is revealed to be led by the mysterious Heretic. During the battle, Batman seemingly dies at the Heretic’s hand, which leaves ‘The Famiy’ to take up his mantle. Dick Grayson dons the cape and becomes the new Batman, Batwoman reluctantly assists, Bruce’s son Damian embarks on his first heroic adventure and Lucious Fox’s son adorns a suit and dubs himself Batwing. They set out to find The Heretic, expose what happened to Batman and stop an evil plan to dominate the planet.
Bad Blood‘s story relies more on catering to nerds than it does any real sense of drama. Batman is dead and instead of approaching that very real tragedy with the weight it deserves, there is instead too much of an over dependence on team ups and the visual euphoria of seeing our heroes kick some ass. It’s great and that’s half the reason we watch super hero films but a little depth wouldn’t go a stray. I never cared that Bruce had been killed and quite frankly neither did anyone else.
Twists and reveals do come to pass and a few of Bad Blood‘s errors are rectified but in the moment, before we gather any information, there is a missed opportunity to shine some light on how devastating a world without Batman really is. The end goal of the villainous scheme is incredibly weak and cliched, as though it was simply tacked on. In fact there are a few moments where the writers seemed to be uninformed regarding the characters they were working with. It bolsters the idea that perhaps these DC animated films need to be drawn from literature, lest they become bland and uninspired.
There is the occasional bit of fun to be had in Bad Blood however. There are great battle sequences – the massive fight with a group of gun toting nus comes to mind – and as always, the quality in these scenes hasn’t dropped. The climax is wonderfully action packed, inter-cutting between one on one fights with villains like Firefly and The Mad Hatter and the attempted rescue of an entire city.
Batman: Bad Blood might be the weakest DC Animated Movie to date. But that doesn’t mean it’s horrible, it just means that it’s extremely forgettable in a catalogue of great films like Dark Knight Returns and The Flashpoint Paradox. Kicking off with an intriguing premise and then neglecting to address its importance and boiling down to a groan inducing takeover plot, Bad Blood is a giant misfire. But if you want to see the Bat Family get together and wreck shop, you’ll find no better place.
Review Score: TWO AND A HALF STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Batman: Bad Blood is out now on Blu-Ray and DVD.