“How can you expect to lead humanity, if you’ve never been a part of it?”
The message behind Son of Batman is quite simple; it’s never too late to learn right from wrong. Under the correct guidance, and the proper influence, we all have the ability to rehabilitate ourselves and become better people. I chose to open with the above quote, which is a line from Batman to his son Damian in the film, because I think it is an extremely powerful thought. How can you expect to be a better person, and prove to be an example for others, if you’ve never taken the chance to walk in their shoes?
That’s the kind of powerful shit you can learn from Batman cartoons, kids. So take that mom and dad! (Not my parents, just the douchey parents out there who think their kids are wasting time reading/watching Batman)
The story and progression of Damian Wayne has always been fascinating to me, and while he is a character hated by many fans, I’ve found myself very drawn to the character. His story and his psychological state of mind can be very intricate. Trained by the League of Assassins at the guidance of R’as Al Ghul, Damian believes that he is to lead humanity one day, even if it means killing in the process. What Damian lacked most in his upbringing, was balance. Doing what is right because it is right, and without question. So how do you take a child, who has grown up under the notion that hatred is okay, and vindication is sometimes necessary, and teach him to uphold a strong moral compass?
Well, That’s where Batman comes in.
I was EXTREMELY surprised that the writers behind Son of Batman decided to include the risqué manor in which Damian was conceived. It caused a major stir when the comic arc was released, because Talia Al Ghul essentially drugged Batman and mounted him like a wild stallion, in hopes that they would conceive a child…which they totally did. Many attributed the nature of this development to the use of date rape drugs like GHB, and DC later retconned the story to make the intimacy between Batman and Talia consensual. Right off the bat (get it?!), this sets the tone for the film. Although they decided to include this, they also make it abundantly clear that Batman remembers the night he and Talia shared beneath the stars….and he ain’t mad.
The voice acting and animation on this film was fantastic. Jason O’Mara shines again as Batman, in a performance that I believe to be better than his previous work on Justice League: War. Perhaps it was the script, perhaps he just felt more connected with the character this go round, he was just there. Stuart Allan behind the voice of Damian also takes center stage. For a young and inexperienced actor, you surely couldn’t tell. Both the arrogance and naivety of Damian were portrayed phenomenally well, and in the second act he played a believable reform. The film also had the beautiful Morena Baccarin (Firefly, Homeland) behind the voice of Damian’s mother Talia, and Thomas Gibson (Criminal Minds) behind the voice of Deathstroke. I wasn’t dissapointed with Gibson’s performance as Deathstroke, but I wasn’t necessarily thrilled. He just…was.
The main positive aspect of the film, is that it is a completely original story. Some lines from the original comic (Batman and Son by Grant Morrison) are used, and the general idea of Damian Wayne remains intact, but other than that every thing is new. Deathstroke, Killer Croc, and Nightwing were not key characters in the comic, and the fact that this story was completely brand new is worth noting.
The one negative aspect of the film, is it’s center. At some point in the story, Damian really needed to have his ass handed to him by his father to make him realize what a douchebag he was, but this film didn’t really include that. In the comic in which this story is loosely based, Damian brutally attacks current Robin Tim Drake in efforts to take his place. Batman gets so rip-roaringly pissed at Damian, that he scares the living poo out of him in a fit of rage. There was a moment in Son of Batman where we were supposed to believe that Damian was gearing up for a changin’, but it felt like it went too fast. This is the only situation where “don’t bore us, get to the chorus” didn’t really need to exist.
But don’t let that away you away from the film, it’s still fantastic, much like the other DC Animated features. A solid story with many of your favorite characters, and the fabulous character design of Phil Bourasso. Check it out, and you won’t be disappointed.