Batman and Superman: Battle of the Super Sons marks a couple of firsts, although they’ve had several print team-ups and their own comic, it’s the first on-screen pairing of the sons of DC’s biggest superheroes. It’s also the first of DC’s animated films to be completely done by computer, using the same styling as Marvel’s “What If” series.
It opens with a pre-credits recap of how Superman came to Earth, only with one small addition, which may seem puzzling, but will be explained later in the film. That’s followed by what is basically another origin story, that of Superboy, aka Jonathan Kent (Jack Dylan Grazer, Shazam!, We Are Who We Are) the son of Superman (Travis Willingham, The Legend of Vox Machina, Ben 10), and Lois Lane (Laura Bailey, Injustice, Naruto: Shippûden).
Most of the film’s first half-hour deals with him finding out the truth about his father and his own superpowers. While reasonably interesting it takes up a bit too much of the film’s seventy-nine minutes, especially as his back story is considerably less interesting than that of assassin turned superhero Damian Wayne (Jack Griffo, The 2nd, The Thundermans), son of Bruce Wayne (Troy Baker, Dota: Dragon’s Blood, Batman: The Long Halloween, Parts One & Two) and Talia al Ghul.
Once director Matt Peters (DC Showcase: Constantine – The House of Mystery, Scooby-Doo! Shaggy’s Showdown) and writer Jeremy Adams (Mortal Kombat Legends: Snow Blind, Supernatural) get past this we get an enjoyable if somewhat by-the-numbers superhero team-up story as the two Super Sons have to become unlikely allies to save their fathers and other superheroes from the mysterious hive mind known as Starro (Darin De Paul, Critical Role, Batman: Death in the Family).
Despite the fairly basic plotting and PG-13 rating, Batman and Superman: Battle of the Super Sons has a fair amount of mayhem, and as befits an October release a couple of nods to the horror genre. The way Starro spreads its infection recalls the alien from The Hidden, and President Lex Luthor’s (also Darin De Paul) live TV transformation recalls The Howling.
On the other hand, being targeted at a younger audience there are several scenes with a focus on family, father and son relationships, etc. While comics frequently deal with serious material these days, in Batman and Superman: Battle of the Super Sons it feels forced and preachy rather than an organic part of the story. I’m not sure if all of his YA and kid-oriented scripts are like this, but it’s not nearly as smooth as his work on Batman: Soul of the Dragon or the Mortal Kombat films.
The animation, despite some people’s fears, isn’t horrible. In fact, it’s quite good for the most part. The one problem I had with it is it has a tendency to look like it belongs in a video game, a well-done one to be sure, but several scenes do have a mechanical look to them. Unfortunately, the days of hand animation in mainstream film and TV is coming to an end, and it’s something we’ll have to get used to.
While it can’t compare to last year’s Halloween offering from DC, Batman: The Long Halloween, Batman and Superman: Battle of the Super Sons was an OK way to kill the time and I expect that the audience it’s aimed at will enjoy it even more. Probably enough to warrant a sequel or two.
Batman and Superman: Battle of the Super Sons, premiered on October 7th at New York Comic-Con. It will be available on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, and Digital HD on Oct. 18th via Warner Bros. You can check DC’s website for more information. If that didn’t satisfy your appetite for adventure, FilmTagger can suggest some other similar films,