Release: August 15, 2017
Director: Sam Liu
Writer(s): Bruce Timm and Jim Krieg
Starring: Kevin Conroy as Batman, Loren Lester as Nightwing, Melissa Rauch as Harley Quinn, Paget Brewster as Poison Ivy, and Kevin Michael Richardson as Floronic Man
Warning: Review will contain spoilers.
This latest installment in the DCAU finds Batman and Nightwing teaming up with Harley Quinn to stop infamous eco terrorist Poison Ivy and the Floronic Man from turning every sentient creature on the planet into plant creatures. That’s it, a simple, straight forward Batman story. Of course, being as the team are joined this time by everyone’s favourite fool-cum-femme fatale, the film does have some fairly silly moments. There’s even a couple of homages to the 1960s Batman television series in one particular scene (complete with a henchmen dancing the Batusi). I am not going to lie, I did drag my feet on reviewing this because I had read a few reviews that just savaged it. However, when it came down to it, the most vociferously negative ones seemed to take issue with the fact that Harley acted like Harley. Batman is, at it’s core, superhero neo-noir. It took a lot of inspiration from old illustrated pulp stories (The Shadow in particular) and hard boiled detective fiction. One of the standard character archetypes in this type of fiction is the femme fatale, an attractive woman who uses cunning and sex appeal to manipulate men to her desired ends. Think Lauren Bacall in 1946’s The Big Sleep or Sean Young in 1982’s Blade Runner. A huge chunk of the female antagonists that the dynamic duo encounter fall into this archetype, Harley is no exception. As such, it seems to me a little odd that people would complain about her acting in such a way. I find myself wondering if those people ever actually watched the animated series that they profess to love so much. The voice cast were good with one or two exceptions, Melissa Rauch as Harley Quinn was passable to decent. Her accent was inconsistent and served as something of a detriment. There was also something about John Dimaggio’s Swamp Thing that didn’t sit right with this reviewer. The art style is as good as ever. The dark, heavy, contrasting colours on top of dark backgrounds look as good today as they did in the early 90s. Some of the character redesigns, however, are not so great. Poison Ivy in particular is one that could have been done better. Batman, whose arms seem to be sort of out of scale here, looks more simian than heroic. However, these are minor quibbles at best. If you can set aside the phony outrage that some other reviewers may have whipped you into over the Harley Quinn-Nightwing “romance” (can we really call a one time quickie a romance people? c’mon.), you may find this enjoyable. It’s much lighter in tone than 2016’s controversial (in some circles) Batman: The Killing Joke, and a hell of a lot more enjoyable.