MERRY CHRISTMAS DAMIEN WAYNE!
‘Merry Little Batman’ | Rating: 8.75 | Amazon | 1 hour, 32 minutes
Amazon’s Merry Little Batman is the family Christmas movie of the year. Endearing, funny, raucous and touching, Damien Wayne never looked so good.
I am going to be honest. Batman is one of my favorite DC characters, but the last thing I wanted to see was another Batman property. Thus, Merry Little Batman was not on my list of things to watch this year. (Or perhaps, ever.)
No, I don’t have superhero fatigue. I have “Batman fatigue.” Adding insult to injury, I absolutely did not enjoy the artwork which showed up in the trailer. Cartoony in the extreme, the character designs and the overall art style were subtly weighed against the work as well.
My art bias is personal one I try not to exercise to remain open to new properties, except in the case of superheroic stories. In the case of superheroes I like art to be more realistic. Snob. I know. I am getting past it. This film helped. After finishing the film, the art had managed to sneak up on me and it became the signature of the humor and candor this film showed to its characterizations of these legendary characters.
IN A PARALLEL UNIVERSE not too far from the main DC Universe, Bruce Wayne’s fight for Gotham City takes a turn for the better. Batman begins to win against his foes and instead of them escaping again and again, Gotham City, likely with Bruce Wayne’s economic might begin to transform Gotham into a city of light, a city of hope, a city without crime — a city with no need for its dark detective of justice; Bruce Wayne has retired to a private life with his friend and butler, Alfred Pennyworth, an orange tabby cat named Selina and his precocious eight year old, Damien Wayne.
The DC Universe’s version of Damien, who trained in the martial arts since he was able to walk, was being prepared to lead the League of Shadows as a lethal fighting machine with no respect for anyone, and whose fighting skills will one day eclipse his father’s, was generally disliked by everyone who meets him. Incredibly talentedm but generally disliked, he was privately envied for his competence.
That Damien Wayne is not this one. Here, Damien is an eight year old with an active imagination, highly coordinated, and ambitious youngster who has the best dad in the world: the legendary Batman. No league of shadows, just Bruce Wayne, part-time businessman, part-time superhero, full-time father. It is every bit as cute as it sounds.
Bruce is a dad’s dad, complete with bad, dad jokes, whose a bit over-protective of his only child. Been there. Done that. I completely understood Bruce’s behavior. Damien is a great kid, eager to grow up and fight alongside the best hero in the world. Bruce doesn’t want that just yet. He wants his son to be a child for just a little while longer.
From this point on, there are two stories: Bruce as he investigates a request for help from the Justice League and Damien as he tries to find and recover the gift of a utility belt stolen by home invaders who met their match in Damien.
The film takes the time to develop the characters and give you a good sense of them before getting underway. While the pace may occasionally get frenetic, the story moves smoothly and the introduction of the well-aged rogues gallery of Batman was done with the cartoon panache you have come to expect from the Clown Prince of Crime.
Partnered with Poison Ivy at the peak of her powers, an over-the-hill mobility scooter-using Penguin, a pathetic punster in Mister Freeze and the barely articulated mumblings of the hyper-muscled Bane, makes the Harlequinesque dressing of the Joker seem positively normal by comparison. It appears a crime-free Gotham wasn’t to their liking and have sat waiting for a moment to return the city to its dark ways. All it needed was a distraction.
This film is fun, a heartwarming, silly, superheroic romp with a version of the Batman rarely seen. A family man who has put his demons aside and found a way to be the parent he didn’t get to have.
If you are looking for darkness, this is not your film. This film channels Batman 68 quite nicely and even includes their theme music to let you know where this film draws its comic inspirations.
Thaddeus Howze is an award-winning writer, editor, podcaster and activist creating speculative fiction, scientific, political and cultural commentary from his office in Hayward, California.
Thaddeus’ speculative fiction has appeared in numerous anthologies and literary journals. He has published two books, ‘Hayward’s Reach’ (2011), a collection of short stories and ‘Broken Glass’ (2013) an urban fantasy novella starring his favorite paranormal investigator, Clifford Engram.