Whether you love or hate “Batman Ninja,” you have to admit DC is at least going for something completely different and radical this time around. With a different crew and approach toward the mythology, “Batman Ninja” is a unique time traveling tale that finds Batman at his most godlike, worshipped as a near invincible warrior in Feudal Japan. Beautifully directed by Junpei Mizusaki, “Batman Ninja” puts the entire aesthetic of the DC character in to some of the wildest anime filters, and it works most of the time. Some concepts land with a thud, but when “Batman Ninja” soars, it’s quite spectacular.
After “Batman and Harley Quinn,” the cinematic adaptation of “Gotham By Gaslight” feels like a breath of fresh air. It brought me back to the time when Batman animation was mature and accessible, and we got entertainment like “Mask of the Phantasm” and “Return of the Joker.” Warner follows up with the aforementioned horrendous DC team up movie with what is a charming, creepy, and wholly creative twist on the Jack the Ripper legend that ponders on what would have happened if he and Batman were foes during the time he wrought havoc in the 1880’s.
Boyd Kirkland’s “SubZero” stands as not only one of the best animated Batman films of all time, but one of the best Batman films, period. In a time where Warner were handing us goofy films like “Batman Forever,” behind the scenes, Bruce Timm took the material seriously, delivering entertaining mature fare like “SubZero.” Something of a sequel to “Deep Freeze,” Kirkland’s film is also a stark contrast to last year’s “Batman and Harley Quinn,” choosing to expand on the hit episode, rather than repeat the same beats ad nauseum like the latter chose to.
At the end of the day I think “Justice League” is a very—okay movie, with glimmers of greatness. But that’s the problem, sadly. Fans waited and waited, and didn’t want an okay movie. We fans wanted a great movie, and despite bringing in Joss Whedon in the final hour, “Justice League” feels less like the beginning of an epic saga of superheroes, and more like a throwaway episode of a mediocre superhero series. And what with “mustache gate” and the continued controversy over the original cut of the film, “Justice League” will carry a lot of baggage with it forever. Which is sad, because I still didn’t hate it as much as I did “Batman v Superman.”
If “Batman v Superman” was Zack Snyder’s own way of exploring how antiquated Superman is, “Justice League” is the proof by Joss Whedon that Superman is actually a bad ass with the right mind behind him. I won’t pretend that “Justice League” is a masterpiece of the comic cinema boom, but I can’t claim it to be one of the worst movies of the year, either. With some spit and polish, it could have risen to be a fantastic film, but in its final form, it’s a neat diversion with a manic energy, and the return of a modern cinematic Superman who presents an iota of positivity, charm, and hope. Finally.
I was not at all a fan of the original “Batman” animated movie, as I felt it was somewhat unfocused. Thankfully “Batman vs. Two Face” not only gets the idea more about the Batman series, but uses Two Face quite cleverly. As most fans know, the original Adam West Batman show wanted Clint Eastwood to play Two Face, but deemed the character too disturbing for viewers. Producers for this animated movie go back to re-cast Two Face for their show, but bring aboard another television icon to play the villain, William Shatner. Shatner is perfect for the role of the duplicitous deviant ne’er dowell known as Two Face, and what makes the pot even sweeter is that he’s turned in to an allegory for homosexuality.
“Justice League: The New Frontier,” adapted from the late great Darwyn Cooke’s graphic novel is an attempt at a new approach toward the DC universe the heroes behind DC. It’s an engaging, poetic, often brilliant animated film with an adult sensibility and intriguing psychological analysis that features a world on the brink of a new frontier, and its heroes and protectors facing the prospect of not being needed. On the opposite spectrum, their views of humanity are waning and devolving as they see endless cruel violence, and hatred take form through horrendous racial crimes. Director David Bullock and co. dare to present a film that takes a step back looking at the humanity that is affected by a world inhabited by DC heroes.
“Batman: The Animated Series” is one of the seminal animated creations of the nineties and is still considered a quintessential depiction of Batman. It’s a masterpiece of animation and meticulous storytelling. The voice work by Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill as Batman and Joker are so definitive, that some fans can’t possibly imagine either character on screen without either actor portraying them. Here we are in 2017 with Bruce Timm reviving his animated version of “Batman” and what do we get? A very long gag involving Harley Quinn farting in the Batmobile as Batman sniffs it in with pleasure, all the while Nightwing retches in the side seat. This is the bar of “quality” we get with “Batman and Harley Quinn.”