When DC Universe Animated Original Movies announced last year that we would be getting an animated adaptation of one of the best DC graphic novels of all time in, The Killing Joke, many accepted the other film announced, Batman: Bad Blood, with an “icing on the cake” after thought. Which is why I have been anxiously awaiting Batman: Bad Blood. I know what to expect in The Killing Joke. Bad Blood however, I went in fresh with no clips, or preview trailers. What makes this one so interesting is that I actually felt like I was watching a DC animated trilogy set in the Batman universe.
Sure the other films in the DC animated Warner Bros. library do intersect within their respected universes and timelines. However, Son Of Batman, Batman vs. Robin, and Batman: Bad Blood are true sequels that make up this trilogy. Granted, Son Of Batman wasn’t exactly a masterpiece and Batman vs. Robin could have been a little more faithful to the Court Of Owls novel, but those are nitpicks when you consider just how superior DC Universe Animated Original Movies are in comparison to their competition across town on Marvel street. In addition, this is a fresh new story written from the ground up by writer, J. M. DeMatteis, who has a very long resume in both comics and animation (Batman vs. Robin, Justice League Unlimited). So there is no longer a fear to live in the shadows of a graphic novel to be compared to, but does Bad Blood deliver? Absolutely.
Director Jay Oliva is fastly approaching legendary status with his body of work of DC animated films. That much is clear. I could not do the man justice to simply mention of few cherry picked films such as The Dark Knight Returns, Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox, or even his work on the live action Man of Steel for example. Jay Olivia is a rising star and wastes no time getting down to business in the opening introduction that seamlessly throws elements of beautifully choreographed action, torture, and even humor when a masked and beaten hostage yelps a “I’m just an accountant” line. One of the most humorous lines in the film comes at you during a scene with nuns, machine guns, and katanas. Yes, you read that correctly.
After a bloody battle with Gotham’s new to town Batwoman (Yvonne Strahovski), the mysterious new villain, The Heretic (Travis Willingham), and Batman (Jason O’Mara) ends with a bit of a pickle for the Caped Crusader that concludes with a giant and loud boom that sets the stage for the true stars of the film. Bad Blood really sets itself apart from other films in the DC library. Yes, this is a Batman titled film, but make no mistake, it is his supporting cast that truly shine.
Batman has been missing and presumed dead for the last two weeks. Gotham’s residents, the G.C.P.D, and villains have all taken note. Gotham is vulnerable and there is no Batman to save the city. From here on out with the rest of the film’s one hour and twelve-minute runtime, we get to witness Dick Grayson (Sean Maher) take up the mantle as The Dark Knight. Something I haven’t seen since I last read R.I.P Batman by Grant Morrison while adding the ongoing evolution of Damian as Robin (Stuart Allan), who has come a long way since The Son Of Batman. Robin is no longer the blood thirsty kid with revenge in his heart, thanks in large part to the guidance of Bruce Wayne.
Even though The Heretic really impressed me with his introduction, it is the cold and ruthless Talia al Ghul (Morena Baccarin) that is the true villain in Bad Blood and she does not disappoint. The rest of the cast, both old and new characters, are voiced acted marvelously. Which is nothing new when it comes to the standard by Warner Bros. Animation.
The animation is once again one of the stars as well. Jay Olivia truly “gets” Gotham. From the night life of Gotham, to the board meetings at Wayne Tech. The animation is crisp and clean. Also, similar to some of the best directors in Hollywood, Olivia really has a talent for capturing set piece moments within the action. From having Batwoman pause for just a moment as she opens her cape Bat style with the full white moon behind her, or as the camera gives the viewer an angle from a distance as explosions light up the sky, Bad Blood is just as amazing to look at as it is to follow the plot. Sound is right on point as well as bullets fly, buildings crumble, and the awesome black and red Batmobile punches the gas through the streets of Gotham.
Speaking of the plot, this is one of the most surprising and best written original plots in some time. Quite a few plot twist towards the finale, which I honestly did not see coming. Not to mention the surprise cameo before the credits hit the screen. Similar to the video game Batman: Arkham Knight, Bad Blood plays out like an All-Star mash-up of cameos and roles of some of the best characters in the DC Universe — and it works. It will be very interesting to see where this story goes next. I am sure later this year when The Killing Joke hits retail and with it we should have another masterpiece to add to our collection of DC animated movies based on popular graphic novels, but do not let Batman: Bad Blood fall off your radar. This film is good and just as worthy as some of the best in the DC animated library.