Family is not a bad thing to focus on, it’s what these films have been doing for the past two to mixed results. Bad Blood takes it that one step further into expanding the family and giving us some well needed time with Dick Grayson, since he was more of a side character in the first two. Though as we know by the many franchises that thrive on family as a core theme, it doesn’t always make a film an instant winner to see more in house drama. We have dealt with father and son dynamics for the past two films, and now Bad Blood wants to add in two more characters into the bat cult with their own origin stories. I understand the fact that they want to flesh out the mythos and other “bat people”, but does it make sense to add in two characters that need to be situated in with two other characters they still need to flesh out?
Batman: Bad Blood is a cavalcade of ideas fighting for supremacy that I struggle to really find a true plot at all, or even defined motivation for why these events happen. Bad Blood starts off with the reveal of the Heretic and a new crime syndicate under his command to do something villainous of course. The Heretic looks similar to Batman, and after Batman disappears in an explosion it is up to those who chose to follow Batman’s way of life to find him and stop the Heretic and his master plan. I mean if this was all and they dedicated time to really delving into the other two characters they introduced in this film, it might have been a decent watch. What makes this story fall apart completely is the villains and the lack of purpose the film has and how much it defeated the purpose of the past two films. The motivations of our villains defy previous films as well as the film never really delves deep into the relationships of the bat gang and Batman really. Where was the good progression we were getting with Damian and Bruce? Why are we kind of neglecting to detail Nightwing? Where was the whole dark atmosphere of the previous film that fixed problems in the first? Everything feels kind of like a retrograde of what the second film fixed, but at least it doesn’t go back over the same plot points a third time and when that becomes the only plus of the story then there is a problem.
Batman and Damian kind of play a back seat to a story that feels geared towards exploring more of their characters. They are important to the villains within the story, yet the story neglects them to detail Batwoman and Batwing. The amount of depth perceived about their relationship in the previous films was actually the least impressive element of the story, even with all the messed up motivations and random villains popping up. Just because these two were neglected doesn’t mean Batwoman and Batwing are all peachy either. These two start off as more matter of fact characters that the characters in the story knew about for a while and talk to them like they have a long rich history with them, yet we as an audience are purely experiencing them for the first time with not much to go on. Batwoman can be summed up as: traumatized youth who is rough around the edges yet has a good heart who yearns to be a symbol of justice like the man who saved her. Batwing is probably even worse as he explains a lot of his own motivation, and we didn’t know much about his father Lucius before this film and instead are asked to fully accept this random inclusion without any set up because he has tech. What is with the poor execution of adding in characters? One of which deserved her own film if you were going to do one instead of giving us a half-baked attempt at explaining to us who she is when it matters nothing to the plot at hand. It feels like these two were merely add-ons that came from a checklist from the producers of characters they need to introduce.
The two villains of this film worth noting are Heretic and the other mastermind, Talia. Talia returns as the leader of Heretic’s group and effectively turns into a villain because…they needed to come around full circle? Her motivation comes down to “I know I will never have you, so I will kill you and my own son because you won’t join my plans to take over the world”. When you compare that to the way she acts in the first film with Damian this comes off as quite the 180 in terms of character motivation. It takes a morally grey character and makes her evil for the sake of having a villain that people would be like “say what?!” The Heretic is probably just as pointless as Talia and arguably the biggest waste of potential for a villain in this series so far because of how much they build him up only to really have him be sidelined by the “hidden” antagonist. He has an interesting motivation, but once it’s revealed they do nothing else really with him and it becomes the Talia al Ghul show. I just feel like if the Heretic was given his own film, which would further help to flesh out what this trilogy was focusing on which was Damian and Bruce, then he would have been just as good as Talon if not better. In the end they both feel shoddy, and with the large assortment of Batman villains in this film that are promptly disposed of I can’t say they break the trend at all.
One of the biggest elements that confused me with this film was the amount of death perpetrated by the film for comedic purposes. When a big element of the series, the previous TWO films, was not killing your opponent this film kind of goes against that fact completely. They mention it from time to time about not killing and Batwoman complains once about using rubber bullets, but for the most part a bunch of villains just die. Whether it just be by random happenstance and we watch as they unfortunately mess up and die, or the heroes make a comedic joke as they kill or try to save the villains they are fighting to less than stellar results. Not only does this go against the sense of these films, but the humour is often bland and predictable. How many times in film or just entertainment have we seen the villain show off their moves only to be killed in an anticlimactic way for a laugh? This film does it a bit too much and I don’t feel like this is the type of film to really do it for almost every villain. The humour in the film doesn’t feel cohesive either as it often cuts away from the important elements to tell a joke here or there when that scene never needed to happen. It is just taking away precious time to have a badly implemented joke get the spotlight and that is a bit irritating when you realize how much wasted time is in this film.
Batman: Bad Blood feels like a film based on set pieces for action sequences and interesting combinations of characters fighting characters to satisfy fans. The film references the other villains as “C-Listers” and they come off as such. They are just there to fight and be killed off comically. The set pieces don’t necessarily come from the story as they will either say the place is expendable or they are only in a set place to grab something. The set pieces feel more intrusive than anything and just feel like random places for cool fight scenes like the nunnery where they fight as the film likes to call them “nunjas”. They fight in the vault for a second, they fight in a warehouse against the Black Mask for a second, these are all places that go by in a passing glance as they have no importance to the story at hand besides having a unique avenue to talk and fight in front of. Much like the other films, the finale is the best part but only because it doesn’t focus on the story and instead just decides to let the characters fight in a cool location without anything trying to have a point going on.
So how bad is this film? Well it is easily the worst film of the bunch and has a fair amount of consistency issues I didn’t think a third film would have in a trilogy. Especially one where there is clear effort put into some of the animated sequences and the creativity behind some back drops. Sadly the film is a complete misstep in the case of story and character as it doesn’t understand what it wants to be. Is it an origin story for Batwoman and Batwing or is it a story related to Damian and Bruce? These two plots become far too cluttered and unfocused when added together and it shows since the characters that should be focused on for one is often overtaken by the other plot. Nothing feels cohesive and by the end I was begging for them to bring back Deathstroke and the first film.
It is kind of sad that they end this interesting trilogy on such an off-putting note in regards to the building blocks of the past two films. I would even call this the weakest of the trilogy for how much just didn’t add up or didn’t make sense regarding both a flowing narrative and motivations for our villains. Plus it kind of robbed us of an origin film for both Batwing and Batwoman, one of which would have been pretty awesome and the other might have been okay. Instead it shoe-horns them in. Where have all the good trilogies gone? At least it gave me Nunjas…but then again it reminded me of that scene from the live action Speed Racer…
So have you watched Batman: Bad Blood? What do you think the final film in a trilogy should be like? Feel free to leave a comment down below and don’t forget to have an awesome day!