WonderCon 2014: Son of Batman (Movie Review)

SoBat - Batman_Damian_05-001From what I can tell, both Comic Con and WonderCon have proven to be great venues to debut the latest DC Universe Animated Original Movies and I am sure the other cons do it too.  The past few years have seen the debut public screenings of films such as Batman: Year One, The Dark Knight Returns, and Superman: Unbound, among others.  It makes perfect sense, as the people attending these cons consist of the exact type of audience that would seek them out.  For WonderCon 2014, audiences were treated to the debut of Son of Batman, which was screened on Friday and had an encore screening on Sunday.  The film introduces the Damian character, the child Batman learns he has, which leads to a battle with some old and new foes.  As a Batman fan attending WonderCon, I of course had to check this out for myself.

SoBat - Robin costume

The story takes elements from Grant Morrison and Andy Kubert’s Batman and Son storyline, but Son of Batman is largely its own story.  In this film, Batman (voiced by Jason O’Mara) learns that he has a son, Damian (Stuart Allan), who was the result of an unsanctioned tryst (to put it mildly) with Talia al Ghul (Morena Baccarin), daughter of the fearsome Ra’s Al Ghul (Giancarlo Esposito).  After Slade Wilson aka Deathstroke (Thomas Gibson) takes over the League of Shadows, Talia places Damian in Batman’s care.  While Damian has been trained his whole life, the Caped Crusader reluctantly becomes a mentor to the boy, who becomes a new Robin at the Bat’s side.  Together, they can hopefully stop Deathstroke and the army of man-bats Deathstroke has forced Dr. Langstrom (Xander Berkeley) to create.

For those that have been following these DC animated features, a notable aspect of Son of Batman is that it is technically a follow up to Justice League: War.  The film retains Jason O’Mara as Batman, which is a good clue already, but while that film had a less experienced Batman, Son of Batman takes place sometime after those events, but in the same universe set up in that film.  While Kevin Conroy will always be the true voice of Batman for me, O’Mara does a good enough job in this iteration of the famed character.


Moving on, if there was one thing I did not expect to see in Son of Batman, it was the large amount of violence and bloodshed on display.  Sure, this is an action-packed DC animated film, but Son of Batman featured a lot of death for a film that is supposedly about the Dark Knight becoming a mentor figure to a young child.  The fact that a good portion of the heavy violence features Damian in some way makes it all the more distracting, as I was somewhat unsure of how to take in what the film had to offer.  On the one hand, we get a grand look at how dark the criminal world can be in regards to the League of Shadows and the power they have over people.  On the other hand, this is a comic book character that is not only admired by fans that are my age and older, but young kids as well, who may have parents that see no harm in picking up another animated Batman film.  Suffice it to say that parents should be warned about the violent content contained in this film.

As far as the story goes, I cannot say this is the best Batman plot, but I also enjoy the idea of Damian, the character.  The issue comes from pushing this story idea forward so soon in this film universe.  Given that this is not a follow up to a long-running version of this iteration of Batman, it seems a bit haphazard to suddenly introduce a son.  Placing that aspect aside, I was happy with the portrayal of Damian and how he had an effect on Batman and the plot.  Damian can be a tricky character to pull off, but I enjoy his balance of brattiness and smart assed sense of humor, balanced with his skill as a fighter.  It is unfortunate that the story only offers so much drama though.  The tragedy and conflict that could be seen in each of the characters featured in this film could be expanded upon more, but the action takes over for the most part, which makes sense to an extent, but makes me question why so many characters were included.

SoBat - Deathstroke_06

The presence of Damian also opened the film up to exploring the al Ghul family and the League of Shadows, as well as the status of Dick Grayson, who is now fighting crime as Nightwing (Sean Maher).  While not given a ton to add to the story, adding the tension of Batman’s former protégé with a new son in his life makes for an interesting dynamic that I will be curious to see return in future films, were this particular universe to continue.  I am not saying I need more of Damian as Robin, but for a film that has a lot of action contained in its 74-minute runtime, the time spent developing these characters was interesting enough to me to want to see what else could come from the interaction of these characters.

Getting to the action, this film does have a lot of it.  With Son of Batman being set in the same universe as Justice League: War, it should be noted that the animation is handled in the same fashion.  There is clearly an anime influence in how the action is portrayed, which allows for some creative visuals that capture the efforts scene by ninja armies battling assassins towards the beginning of the film, along with the standard Batman action in later portions, as he takes on foes such as Killer Croc and Deathstroke.  We have certainly come a long way since Batman: The Animated Series, but I did like what I was seeing for the most part, as the designs are clearly inspired by the New 52 and fit in a way that is not necessarily better than past attempts but different.  For what it’s worth, I did also like the look of Gotham City in this film.

SoBat - Batman_Damian_05

Overall, Son of Batman may not be as epic as something like the two-part animation event that was The Dark Knight Returns, but it is a fun effort.  It is definitely far too violent for younger fans and does not offer a great Batman story overall, but I like the Damian character and respect what Jason O’Mara has to offer as the current voice of Batman.  Hopefully we can see a move away from Batman and Superman for the next one of these films (I hear Aquaman is finally on the docket), but as it stands, Son of Batman is a  decent enough effort that introduces an interesting predicament for the Dark Knight to have to deal with.

Son of Batman will be available to purchase on May 6, 2014.
Pre-Order your copy here:

Son-of-Batman-DVD-cover SoBat - Killer Croc2 SOB_Damian SOB_BW-Alfred
Aaron is a writer/reviewer for WhySoBlu.com.  Follow him on Twitter @AaronsPS4.
He also co-hosts a podcast,
Out Now with Aaron and Abe, available via iTunes or at HHWLOD.com.


1 Response to “WonderCon 2014: Son of Batman (Movie Review)”

  1. Son Of Batman (Blu-ray Review) at Why So Blu?

    […] see a screening of the film at WonderCon.  You can read his thoughts on the film by clicking right HERE.  Its pretty cool that he gets to see the film that way since these are really straight-to-video […]