Starting with a familiar opening montage of the Superman origin story, Batman and Superman: Battle of the Super Sons is a fun love letter to the fans that blends iconic elements from the comics and other famous iterations. The best part of the movie is the first twenty minutes, which touches on influences from Superman the Movie, Superman the Animated Series, Superman and Lois, and Superman: Rebirth from DC Comics.
The Super cast of ‘Super Sons’
Laura Bailey is immediately loveable as Lois Lane, complete with Margot Kidder snorts and all. Her dynamic with Jack Dylan Grazer’s Jonathan Kent is especially adorable and endearing. Troy Baker brings his usual excellent Batman, now complemented with a classic Jim Lee-style costume. Zeno Robinson’s Jimmy Olsen and Tom Kenny’s Penguin were perfect standouts and easily my favorite bits of the whole 80 minutes.
But sadly, Jack Griffo’s Damian Wayne didn’t leave any impression on me. Travis Willingham’s deep voice brought a nice confidence to Superman, but his performance feels flat and stiff – more like an attempt at Batman, rather than a friendly Superman. Clark Kent needs to be portrayed with more warmth and emotion, especially the fatherly version of Superman that Adams wrote into this script.
I would have personally liked the Clark Kent persona to be animated with a little more “bumbling” in his statue and movement, like Frank Quitely’s design in All-Star Superman. I like the Superman physique presented here, but it’s out of place for the regular Clark Kent persona to have the same heroic figure as Superman. Given that the voice and character designs both have problems differentiating Superman from Clark Kent, I believe this is a general issue in Matt Peters’ direction.
‘Super Sons’ Soars… and Then It Slumps
Battle of the Super Sons’ blended animation style takes advantage of a full spectrum ranging from the charm of classic 2D cartoons to the gorgeous photorealism of 3D. With the great visual style, character designs, and voice cast, I’d love an entire animated TV show set in this universe with smaller adventures. The soaring score is enjoyable as well, but I wish it was more memorable, and my same thoughts go for the story.
While the film is definitely loaded with Easter eggs from the history of the characters, Jeremy Adams’ plotting and dialogue fail to sparkle with the same creative magic as the art design and character research. The momentum of the film slumps when the main plot kicks in and, quite frankly, it gets boring. I wish the mystery and horror elements were stronger. I wish the drive of the heroes was stronger. I wish there was some propulsive force pulling the audience from scene to scene other than “things happen.” Despite all the exciting fan service, beautiful animation, and cute character moments, it’s simply an uninteresting movie.
Overall, Battle of the Super Sons is passable. There are specific moments that are a joy to watch as fans, but the movie is unfortunately generic once the story gets rolling. Rather than sitting through the full runtime, I would recommend looking for a short reel of the highlights on YouTube and seeking out some of Tomasi/Gleason’s original Super Sons comics. At the very least, the animation is beautiful to look at!
My rating for this film:
★★★ / ♥♥♥½
Side thoughts on ‘Battle of the Super Sons’:
- Superman’s design is lightly inspired by Patrick Gleason’s Superman: Rebirth, the comics arc that explored Clark’s role as a father.
- This features one of my favorite Green Arrow designs ever, straight from Otto Schmidt’s great art in Green Arrow: Rebirth.
- I love that the Batmobile looks exactly like the version from The Batman animated series in the 2000s.
- I would have liked to see Martha Kent interact with Lois and Jon, even briefly. I love Superman’s relationship with his mother and I feel it could have brought a nice touch to such a family-focused story, especially since Lois is the only leading woman in the film.
- I was thrilled to see a certain surprise from Grant Morrison’s run.
- I enjoyed seeing the 2000s-style Watchtower design inspired by the Justice League animated series and the 2000s comics.
- Damian’s hair is ridiculous in the best of ways.
- A few dramatic scenes don’t make sense given the powerset of Kryptonians.
- Lois’ personality can be absent-minded and even oblivious, but an award-winning reporter should know how many branches the US government has. It’s a small throwaway joke, but it felt like an alarming character issue to me.
- On Krypton, I appreciated the added emphasis on Jor-El and Lara having spent time with baby Kal before sending him away. In most retellings, the action starts with the baby Kal being put in the ship without acknowledging any time Kal spent with his birth parents.
- Since they chose to open with Superman’s origin story, I think it would have been interesting to see Batman’s origin story as well, interlacing the two in one “World’s Finest” opening sequence that sets up the legacy for both Jon and Damian to follow.
Have you seen Battle of the Super Sons yet? Are you excited to check it out? Let me know on Twitter @vinwriteswords, and remember to follow the site @MyCosmicCircus for more super reviews coming soon! If you haven’t already, check out our review of DC’s League of Superpets, a family-friendly entry into the DC universe!
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