Thursday 27 July 2017

Batman: Bad Blood: the perfect pattern for Bafleck

Last night I watched Batman: Bad Blood, one of the straight-to-DVD DC animated features, and it is absolutely what DC-Warner should be planning to do with Ben Affleck as Batman (if Affleck still is Batman for the forseeable future).

To explain: the DCEU's angle on Batman is that he's an older gentleman who's been around for a while. The benefits of this are obvious: he has some experience; they don't have to run through his origin story again; and, if they don't want to waste time on an origin for the villain they don't have to, as with Joker and Harley in Suicide Squad. Mainly its just a way of getting around the fact that the audience can be relied upon to know the basics of Batman and his world by this point.

Bad Blood also has an older Batman and uses it as a driving force for the story.

In the first few minutes of the movie, Batman gets blown up and remains missing for about half the film. This means that the writers get to play with the idwa of Batman as a legacy. Now, obviously, this film is very much pitched at existing fans but seeing as how many Batman movies there have been its not out of line to expect audiences to be able to get behind this. Affleck is the sixth big screen Batman and, like James Bond, you have a pretty good idea of the character because of it.

So, we have a group of various bat-family characters filling the void. Alfred drags Nightwing back to Gotham so Dick can wear the Batman costume and keep the legend alive. Batwoman, who witnessed Batman getting blown up, represents the Batman legacy as inspiration (even if I do think this version of her original meetign with Batman casts her a bit too passively compared to the original comic telling). Damian represents the legacy of inheritance, which has deeper meaning later on in the plot. Then finally there's Luke Fox as Batwing, another son inheriting a role from his father but taking it in an entirely new direction. Even the villain of the piece is trying to exceed the achievements of their predecessor. Kate, too, has a plot revolving around her relationship to her family, in particular her father Jacob. There's a lot of history being explored here, perfect territory for a version of Batman mythos meant to contain a lot of unseen previous adventures.

There are issues. The main villain has a pre-existing relationship to Batman that isn't very well explained, at least not for a general audience. Similarly, the relationship between Bruce and Damian doesn't get much exposition beyond the simple fact that they're father and son.

Then there's Kate. I imagine most of the issues I have with this portrayal is the creators hitting up against the film's PG-13 age rating. The scene where she “flirts” with Montoya is punishing to watch, though it isn't as if the rest of the film shies away from the fact that Kate is a lesbian the dialogue just doesn't work at all. Surprisingly (or not) Dick fairs somewhat better in the flirt stakes, having a phone conversation with Starfire (during a fight with Blockbuster, no less) that repeatedly comes within one cut-off word of being literal phone sex.

I'm also none too clear on why Damian starts the film in a monastery but I think from some other dialogue that there's another film that precedes this one in continuity.

Nevertheless, as far as I'm concerned this is the standard Affleck's solo debut has to beat now. After Wonder Woman I am more hopeful than I was that it has a chance but this sets a high bar, at least as far as central concept goes. 

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