Batman learns he has a son, Damian – and to further complicate matters, the mother is Talia al Ghul, daughter of one of his most dreaded enemies, Ra’s Al Ghul. When the odds quickly turn against Batman and Damian, Batman must become both father and mentor to the aggressive, agile new Robin. Together they form an uneasy alliance to try and thwart the criminal enterprise of Deathstroke and his army of ninja man-bats before there are international consequences.
Earlier this year, DC kicked off a new animated universe for the majority of its forthcoming direct-to-video movies with Justice League: War, which told the New 52 origin of the JLA. And now, the second installment of this new world is here. Son of Batman adapts Grant Morrison’s pre-New 52 arc “Batman and Son”, which saw the introduction of Damian Wayne into the DC Universe. Of course, the film isn’t the most accurate adaptation – Deathstroke is the main villain, Dick Grayson/Nightwing is present instead of Tim Drake, and so on. But how does Son of Batman fit in with a highly impressive catalog that includes Under the Red Hood, Justice League: Doom, and the aforementioned War?
As expected, Son of Batman has great animation. The same layouts and character designs from JL: War return here, and while not quite as colorful here, it’s hard to point out any specific flaws. The animation depicts the action wonderfully, as well as occasional bloodshed. The score is also very good, and fits into the movie well. And despite the expected 74 minute runtime, Son of Batman doesn’t feel rushed at all. It manages to tell its story without any time restraints, and develops most of its characters well.
After voicing the Dark Knight in Justice League: War, Jason O’Mara reprises the role in Son of Batman. He is arguably even better this time around, even though his Batman is still not on the same level as Kevin Conroy’s or Bruce Greenwood’s. Stuart Allan is great as Damian Wayne, giving the arrogant, spoiled portrayal that was needed for this character. Morena Baccarin, David McCallum, and Sean Maher are all flawless as Talia al Ghul, Alfred, and Nightwing, respectively. Giancarlo Esposito is excellent as Ra’s al Ghul, despite the fact that the character only has a few minutes worth of screentime. The weakest link in the cast, however, has to be Thomas Gibson as Deathstroke. While his Slade Wilson was far from terrible, his voice doesn’t sound very different from that of the standard animated villain.
The storyline is particularly interesting. The Batman and son dynamic is one that hasn’t been explored before in a movie, and I found it to be very interesting here. In fact, I hope that Damian Wayne will be featured in a future live action Batman film. And Deathstroke’s presence here is another achievement in his growing popularity in recent years, thanks to The CW’s Arrow and the Batman: Arkham Origins video game. While the Son of Batman incarnation isn’t quite as strong as the former two, Slade is still a boss, and he fits into the story well – even if the voicework was a bit bland. Finally, the concept of a Man-Bat army is an exciting one, and it works wonderfully here.
As for flaws, it’s hard to point out many specifics. However, one area where Son of Batman could use some improvement is the dialogue, which is iffy from time to time. One scene with Batman and Talia comes to mind instantly. Also, during the final battle scene, Deathstroke stabs both of Damian’s arms, yet the son of Batman was still able to fight well. It’s hard to imagine any child, even one as skilled and capable as Damian, still carrying out a solid fight after such injuries. And this one isn’t a flaw within the film itself, but I personally would’ve liked to see a longer battle between Batman and Deathstroke.
Overall, Son of Batman is yet another solid animated feature from DC. It falls below many of the company’s previous titles, but this is a worthy continuation of the new universe created by Justice League: War. The movie has strong animation, impressive voicework, and exciting action sequences. There are only a handful of flaws, mostly nitpicks. I definitely recommend Son of Batman to DC and Batman fans in general. I can’t wait to see more from this animated universe, as well as next summer’s stand-alone feature Batman: Assault on Arkham.