I, for one, really hated “Son of Batman,” not only for its ridiculously convoluted take on giving Batman a son, but for Damian Wayne. Wayne is the son of Batman, born from Batman’s worst enemy’s lineage, and he’s still a petulant little shit. Although, to its credit, Wayne isn’t as bad here as he was in “Son of Batman.” That’s mainly because rather than an egomaniacal petulant little brat, he’s now a confused little brat with an ego that’s used to cover up his identity crises. He is after all confused about who he is and is now taking up a new identity he has to adhere to. I didn’t want or care to see a sequel to “Son of Batman,” but thankfully, “Batman vs. Robin” was a convincing argument to give it a chance.
I’m vaguely familiar with the Court of Owls, and they cushion what could have been an insufferable follow up. The introduction of Talon breathes new life in to a stale series of films following Bruce Wayne’s son and adds tension and excitement between the irritating dynamic of Bruce and Damian. Seriously, is there anything about this kid worth salvaging? In either case, “Batman vs. Robin” is an exciting and entertaining adaptation that gives Batman a brand new foe who is more than a match for the Dark Knight. After confronting the evil Dollmaker, Damian Wayne finds himself at a crossroads when the mysterious masked vigilante Talon takes an interest in him. Talon is like Batman, only much deadlier and prone to murdering people rather than taking them to jail.
This conflicts with Damian’s own thirst for blood, as he is continuing his training with Bruce to become a masked avenger that doesn’t murder his foes in combat. Talon wants Damian to be a cold blooded killer, and this conflicts with Damian’s own source of anger and thirst for revenge. This soon puts him at odds with Bruce, who begins battling to be his ultimate mentor, finding that Damian really is being seduced by Talon’s own methods of crime fighting. Meanwhile, Bruce is kidnapped by the Court of Owls, a secret society of Gotham’s elite that wants to rule the city and conform it to its own laws. Bruce is soon on a quest to find out the identities of its members and of Talon, while Talon is anxious to learn who Batman is once and for all. One of the benefits of “Batman vs. Robin” is the brilliant and fluid animation.
Jay Oliva has to stage some really unique battle scenes and hand to hand combat sequences, and he pulls it off with some fluid and incredibly realistic scenes involving Batman going toe to toe with Talon, and eventually Damian. On the talent front, the voice acting is top notch, with Jeremy Sisto really stealing the movie from everyone playing the anti-hero Talon, whose own back story reflects Bruce and Damian’s own. Sisto, who once played Batman, aces the anti-Batman character well. I also really enjoyed Sean Maher as Nightwing, David McCallum as Alfred, and Jason O’Mara who plays a more humble and average Bruce Wayne this time around. There’s even a cameo from Kevin Conroy. All in all, while Damian Wayne is a brutally obnoxious character, “Batman vs. Robin” is a very good DCU animated offering with brisk action, good pacing, and compelling character drama. I may just come back for a third outing to see how the saga of Damian Wayne ends.
Featured in the Blu-Ray is the “Super Rabbit” short from Merrie Melodies, as well as three episodes from the DC Vault. There’s “The Color of Revenge!” from Batman: The Brave and the Bold, “Old Wounds” from Batman: The Animated Series, “Obsession” from Superman: The Animated Series, and “Auld Acquaintance” from Young Justice. There’s also a peak at “Justice League: Gods & Monsters.” There’s “The Talons of Owls,” a fourteen minute look at the Court of Owls, the assassins behind it, and their rich mythology. “Gotham City’s Secret: The Mythic Court of Owls” is a thirty minute in depth exploration of the Court of Owls, their history in the Batman comic books, their connections to the Wayne family; there are some neat interviews with Greg Capullo, and Scott Snyder. Finally, there’s an audio commentary with DC creative director of animation Mike Carline, director Jay Oliva and Producer James Tucker, all of whom discuss production, development, the time period of the film, fight scenes, and the lot. It’s definitely a treat for fans interested in how the production came together. The box set comes with a collectible Batman figurine. It’s not posable, but it’s cool for a display.