So I’m going to be that person and admit straight up that I’m not a fan of the so-called Bat Family. I prefer Bruce-centered Batman stories, and feel like there are too many side characters in Batman comics. I’m that person who thinks Jason Todd should have stayed dead, and that Batwoman shouldn’t need or expect Batman’s input, blessing, and name to fight crime.
So it’s weird for me watching these Batman animated movies centering on the Bat Family. I have characters I like and characters who just rub me the wrong way, but I’m open to exploring them when they’re developed properly. The problem with Batman: Bad Blood is that there are too many characters to give everyone enough attention.
Warning: Spoilers Ahead!
So the characters have a major problem: adequate attention to development. We have Cassandra Kane as Batwoman, the daughter of a military man and a failed hostage situation. She was kicked out of the military and, after boozing her way through life, met Batman and (for some reason) is mad that he rescued her from attackers. She then decides to dress as a female Batman and kick ass, but with a gun because Batman’s code is apparently optional.
Of course I’m ribbing her, and I do like Batwoman. She’s one of the few bright spots of LGBTQ representation in DC comics — at least on the hero side since most villains are coded queer. But she gets very basic development here. Her motivations are weak. Her reasons for being able to keep up with Bruce, Dick, and Damian are scant. And Dick just blabs his secret identity to her because … he has a crush? Ew. She’s not into you, Dick. Stop.
Then we have Batwing, oddly named after Batman’s plane. He’s Lucius Fox’s son, recently returned from Afghanistan. He gets so little character development that it’s embarrassing. Somehow, military training means he can fight mid-air using a jet-pack and defeat foes who’ve been fighting while powering jet packs for years. It’s weird, okay?
But where’s Batman? You may be fooled by the blurb for this movie that implies Bruce is somehow the villain. Oh, how wrong you are.
Then we have the villains, and oh boy. That’s a whole other bag of cats.
Many comic book writers these days have this assumption that audiences are buying books for the heroes. As a lifelong Joker fan who will literally watch a whole movie just to see my character for five minutes, or buy an episode of a TV show just to see Joker’s cameo, I can vouch for the fact that each of Batman’s rogues gallery is unique because they have their own built-in fan base.
So, it’s an odd experience watching a beloved character like Mad Hatter have his head blown up on screen, witnessing Firefly killed in an explosion, or watching Talia get back-stabbed and die in a plane crash. We can probably hand-wave Talia and Firefly, but Jervis Tetch literally had his head explode. Yes, these are villains, but they’re still characters with years of development and affection behind them.
Worse, many are characters with a mental illness doing bad things because their lives are threatened or because of Lazarus Pit exposure. Talia, formerly a loving mother willing to kill anyone who threatened her son, now casually puts Damian in a death trap. And Tetch even states clearly that he’s there under duress.
Just watch this scene and try to tell me Talia is in character.
Are you confused? If not, maybe you’re the intended audience for this movie. I know I’m not.
To be fair though to Bat Family fans, it has fun moments. However, it doesn’t devote enough time to developing its cast of characters to make the end product as solid as it should be.
My rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️
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