Before we get in to the movie we have to address the elephant in the room. There is no way to talk about this movie without first thinking about the Taylor Swift song. I’m sure that DC Animation Studios picked the name for this movie way before Taylor Swift released 1989 but it doesn’t really matter at this point. The name Bad Blood will forever be associated with Taylor Swift and we just have to deal with it. It’s Taylor’s World, we are just visiting. So that being said here is the music video for Bad Blood so you can just have it playing in the background while you read the rest of this post.
While this is a stand alone film it lives in the same world and continuity of the Son of Batman films. The first film of this series is Son of Batman, followed by Batman vs. Robin, bringing us to the third entry Batman: Bad Blood. While all these movies live in the same continuity you definitely don’t need to see the first two films to understand what is going on in Batman: Bad Blood. There are a couple of little nods to the first two films but it is mostly original material.
This film is loosely based on the 2009 Comic Book event Batman: Battle of the Cowl. The key word here is loose. Battle of the Cowl takes place following Batman R.I.P. where Batman was killed (kinda) and was lost in the time stream to become Batman during various ages in time. Bat-mite is involved, its written by Grant Morrison and barely comprehensible (comics be crazy yall). So Batman: Bad Blood is like that, in that Batman is out of commission and Nightwing (Dick Grayson) takes over the mantle of Batman, just for a lot shorter duration.
During the year or so that Batman was out of commission during Batman R.I.P. we were also reintroduce to Batwoman as she took over Detective Comics for issues 854-863. So it’s fitting that we also see the modern Batwoman (Kate Kane) introduced in this film. There was a DC Animated film, Batman: The Mystery of the Batwoman in 2003 but this Batwoman isn’t anything like the modern new 52 Batwoman. If you want a kickstart into the character of Batwoman, Batman: Bad Blood is your best bet.
The movie starts with typical bust up job where we think we see Batman taking care of business, but surprise, its Batwoman. Batman does wind up joining her and the two take care of the lower level baddies and confront a new villain “The Heretic”. The fight moves over a giant catwalk, because of course they do, and Batwoman winds up falling off. Batman saves her but in doing so is stuck in the building as the Heretic blows it up and is persumed dead. Cut to two weeks later and Batman has not been seen since the accident. Nightwing (Dick Grayson) and Robin (Damian Wayne) come back to Gotham to help figure out what happened. I don’t want to just spoil the whole thing so I’ll just leave it (more or less) at that. Batwing gets involved and the four of them (Nightwing, Robin, Batwoman, and Batwing) have to work together in order to figure out what happened.
The movie is great. It fits in the same tone and world as Son of Batman and Batman vs. Robin so if you enjoyed those movies you’ll likely enjoy this one. Because these Batman movies have started to tie together it gives a lot more weight to the events in them and gives you a feeling of actual stakes to these films. There are a couple of deaths in this movie and they have a real impact to them. They definitely aren’t just trying to keep the status quo in these films and are taking the story where ever it needs to go.
The introduction of Batwing and Batwoman are done well. We get a lot of backstory on Kate Kane, who she is, why she’s doing what she’s doing. We don’t quite get as much for Batwing. We see his origin on screen but other than a line or two about him being in the military we don’t really get a lot of information about him. There is only so much time in these films so I don’t fault the film makers that much for it. If you had to choose between spending more time on Kate or Luke, I’d rather it have been Kate.
If you don’t already know Kate Kane is a lesbian and this part of her life is in the film. We see her go on an awkward first date with Renee Montoya and her father keeps trying to get her to go out and find a nice girl. This was all handled matter of factly and as a part of who she is instead of her defining characteristic.
We also see Damian has grown a lot as a character since his introduction in Son of Batman. He’s no longer blood thirsty and genuinely living by the code of justice, not vengeance. He’s no longer just doing this to please Batman but it really seems to be a part of who he is now.
We get a closer look at the relationship between Nightwing and Batman and a explanation of why Dick felt he needed to take up the mantle of Nightwing and leave Gotham. Grayson takes up the mantle of Batman in his absence for the sake of Gotham but only reluctantly. Grayson has been trying to get out of Batman’s shadow his entire life and the movie does a good job of inner conflict within him.
We’ve never gotten a “Marvel Style” teaser at the end of any of these DC Animated films but Batman: Bad Blood may have given us just that. At the very end of the film we see the Bat Signal turn on and Batman, Batwing, Nightwing, and Batwoman all suit up and respond. And then, right before the credits roll, BOOM! Batgirl! We’ve never seen Batgirl in any of these DC Animated films and not only is this Batgirl but it’s the Babs Tarr New 52 Batgirl as well! We haven’t heard any announcement of what the next Batman Animated film will be but I would bet money we are finally going to see a Batgirl solo movie.