Michael Moccio ’16 / Emertainment Monthly Managing Editor
Since the announcement was made at San Diego Comic Con, fans have been waiting for any word on the elusive Son of Batman animated movie. Today, January 20th, fans finally got their wish: first released by TV Guide, the trailer marking Damian Wayne’s animated debut hit the internet by storm.
Almost a year ago in February of 2013, the character was killed in mainstream comics. Besides Andy Kubert’s sub par Damian: Son of Batman, this will be one of the first times fans will be able to see the beloved Boy Wonder in something other than a grave. Although press releases have stated the movie is based off of the 2006 comic book arc Batman and Son by Grant Morrison, the trailer reveals that the creative team might be taking a more liberal approach to the story.
The trailer opens with Talia Al Ghul (Morena Baccarin) seeking Batman’s (Jason O’Mara) help. Slade Wilson (Thomas Gibson), in a bid to gain control of the League of Assassins, has killed Ra’s Al Ghul (Giancarlo Esposito) and seeks to end the line permanently with Talia and her son Damian (Stuart Allan).
This marks the first departure from the original storyline. The addition of Deathstroke seems to add a more straightforward villain to the story—the comic book storyline lacked that, but told a much grander and intricate tale than what it appears Son of Batman is going to be.
It appears that Talia is, in fact, truly looking for help without any ulterior motive. Considering DC’s recent portrayals of Talia as a manipulative and borderline-sociopathic mother, it seems strange that the company would attempt to paint her in a more sympathetic light. Regardless, like in the comics, she introduces Damian to Batman rather abruptly and without too much explanation.
Damian is the heart of the trailer. Newcomer Stuart Allan provides a softer voice than one would expect from the Boy Wonder, but also allows the viewer to really sympathize with Damian and understand beyond the abrasive surface, he really is just a kid crying out for help.
One of the main apprehensions by fans of the character on the movie is that Batman and Son really didn’t portray Damian in the best light: he was arrogant, violent, and incredibly unlikeable. It wasn’t until Morrison fleshed out his character and began to show readers his vulnerability that he gained avid followers. It appears that DC Comics is cognizant of the potential Damian has as a character in future animated movies and aims to portray him in the best light possible.
One of the more central themes of the story will be the conflicting ideologies between Batman and Robin. Batman has always advocated a no-killing policy and has practiced restraint; Damian, on the other hand, is fueled by vengeance and has no qualms in killing. As in the original story, the conflict between the two will add dramatic tension to the story as they learn to work together to save Talia from Deathstroke.
However, this trailer isn’t without flaw. The voice acting sounds sub par, as if they actors read their lines without the context of the situations. Their intonations don’t seem to fit the situations they’re in and their back-and-forth seems to be off rhythm. The best example of this is at the end of the trailer, when Damian says he can drive. Their response times feel synthetic and unrealistic, too quick, and not very well put together.
The animation in general in the trailer doesn’t seem to flow well either. Movements get static at times, as if there weren’t enough frames of animation. The scene where Damian stands on the room with the dramatic flash of lightning stands out as one of the most cringe-worthy pieces of animation: the cape fluttering makes the cape look like cardboard and unrealistic, not imposing and powerful. Hopefully, this is just the trailer in development and not indicative of the final product’s quality.
Several parts of the story, however, didn’t make it into the trailer. The most significant would probably be Dr. Kirk Langstrom (Xander Berkeley), Man-Bat, who has been confirmed in the movie, though his role remains unclear. In the comics, Talia took the Man-Bat serum from him to bolster her army’s strength; perhaps he will play a similar role in the counter attack against Deathstroke. The loyal butler, Alfred Pennyworth (David McCallum), was also absent, though has been confirmed to be in the movie.
Regardless of any imperfections, the fact that Damian will be returned to the fans is a cause for celebration. Who knows—with DC Comic’s phenomenal track record in animation, this might prove to be a
nother hit. We can only wait and see.
Son of Batman comes out late this spring on DVD, Blu-ray and for digital download. The movie will have its world premiere at WonderCon over Easter weekend in Anaheim, Calif.
The trailer can be seen here.