A sequel to Son of Batman, Batman vs. Robin is an improvement over the first film, but it’s still mired in the blood and explosions that undermine the emotions at play here. We should care deeper about the fractures between Batman, Robin, Nightwing, and the presence of the Court of Owls. There’s simply too much story for too little a running time, and things that should mean more just dissolve on impact.
Talon and the Court of Owls deserve their own film trilogy to properly tell that story, one of the better modern Batman stories and the premiere tale of the New 52. Here, it’s merely background noise to the familial dysfunction between Damian’s darker impulses and Bruce’s more disciplined methods. The wedge they drive between father-and-son works thematically, but the Court and Talon remain vaguely defined presences throughout, especially the leader of the Court.
Economy of characters tells us that the lone female cast member is the most likely suspect, and she remains a cipher. There’s nothing to her, really, apart from her gigantic breasts that are constantly on proud display. Much like Talia in Son of Batman, this remains her defining characteristic. If these Batman films are going to continue to tell an on-going story, then they’ll need to branch away from the testosterone-fests of these two films or risk becoming dull.
Batman vs. Robin retains a similar animation problem in that characters like Dick Grayson and Bruce Wayne look bizarre or have trouble staying on model, while there’s no element of that found in Nightwing or Batman. Then again, you came here for the action scenes, and those do not disappoint in their fluidity and grace. There’s still a problem of characters getting stabbed and mangled beyond a believable point of injury to still be able to complete such gravity-defying acts. Look, I’ll roll with the secret society, and gleefully watch the Dollmaker’s creepy cameo, but this is a pet-peeve of mine that quickly grates the more frequent it becomes. If I’m mentioning it, then it happens too often.
The film ends with Batman and Robin both reunited and fractured, and clearly paving the road for a further entry in the series. Hopefully we can get more voices from the Bat-Family in the sequels. Characters like Jason Todd or Tim Drake provide valuable contrast to Damian and Dick, and Barbara Gordon, Kate Kane, and Selina Kyle are sorely needed to readdress the gender disparity. There’s an entertaining film here, but DC and WB have released better films that found a nice contrast between the action and the emotions.