Batman and Superman: Battle of the Super Sons

4K ULTRA HD BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Warner;
Animated;
$24.99 Blu-ray, $29.99 UHD BD;
Rated ‘PG-13’ for violence and language.
Voices of Jack Dylan Glazer, Jack Griffo, Troy Baker, Travis Willingham, Laura Bailey, Darin De Paul, Tom Kenny, Zeno Robinson, Nolan North, Myrna Velasco.

Taking the role of the superhero sidekick to the next level, Battle of the Super Sons delves into the family lives of Batman and Superman to present an entertaining, though somewhat derivative, adventure.

The story focuses mostly on Jonathan Kent, the pre-teen son of Clark Kent and Lois Lane who is being raised by his parents in Smallville. When he starts developing powers such as heat vision and super strength, Jonathan’s father reveals his true identity as the son of Superman, and takes him to meet Batman to test the extent of his Kryptonian abilities.

In the Batcave, Jonathan meets Damian Wayne, the current Robin who is the son of Batman and Talia, daughter of the supervillain Ra’s al Ghul.

Soon enough, Batman and Superman are called away to deal with a Justice League crisis involving Starro, the mind-controlling starfish alien who has made its way to Earth and begins possessing the population.

With Batman, Superman and other members of the Justice League infected, Jonathan and Damien must team up to free them from Starro’s control.

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The concept of Batman and Superman having children who team up is hardly a new one, first presented in the comics in alternate reality stories in the 1960s and 1970s. Those tales weren’t much of a stretch from a creative standpoint, with the sons named Superman Jr. and Batman Jr. and basically serving as mini-me versions of their fathers.

It wasn’t until the past decade or so that Batman and Superman gained true sons in the main DC continuity, paving the way for a revival of the Super Sons concept using Damien and Jonathan. And really, the idea of pairing a variation of Superboy with Robin is just a fun team-up.

Battle of the Super Sons is purportedly the first of the DC Universe animated movies to fully use CGI for its animation, and the results are pretty good. The style is evocative of traditional 2D animation with some anime influences for the action. Colors are bright and vivid, and the story lends itself to bold action sequences.

While the story works to translate the Super Sons concept from page to screen, it does feel a lot like a mash-up of popular trends in comic adaptations and some wish fulfillment on the part of the writers. Starro, who was actually the original foe of the Justice League back in the 1960s before being sidelined as somewhat goofy, has become a bit of a trendy villain of late thanks to being featured in James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad. But the mind-control element does let the writers have some fun with letting Damien and Jonathan fight some members of the Justice League, including their own fathers.

Meanwhile, the notion of Superman and Lois having kids and moving to Smallville is the premise of the TV series “Superman and Lois.”

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The whole history of the Super Sons concept, how it shines light on some of our favorite characters, and the effort it took to make a movie out of it is covered in the 15-minute featurette “Rival Sons: Jonathan and Damian.”

The Blu-ray also includes bonus episodes from “Batman: The Animated Series” in the form of “The Demon’s Quest” two-parter, a story arc in which Ra’s al Ghul kidnaps Robin (the original, Dick Grayson) in an effort to get Batman to take his place. These episodes were probably chosen because they deal with the Batman/Talia relationship and thus connect to Damien’s history.