Everyone’s a Critic: Batman Ninja

Monique Gendron & Ryan Van Aalst Contributors

If ever you are going to watch Batman Ninja, have a stiff drink before, during, and after the movie. Hell, you may as well have one now to make it through this review. If there is anything good to be said about this movie, it is the animation. It is true to the Japanese style and, for the most part, fit well with the tone of the story. There is, however, some inconsistency. A few scenes had a completely different animation style, which seems unnecessary, but they were so few that they did not have a significant impact on the experience. Character designs are a mixed bag. Modern Batman, Catwoman and Alfred are exquisite in their designs. Then there was Red Hood and his straw bascinet, or Robin and his half-assed haircut. Most of the other characters were, unfortunately, forgettable, since most of them didn’t get more than five minutes of screen time. The Joker is an exception. His early design is unflattering, which matches the personality in this interpretation of him. Both improved by the end, which was satisfying to witness. Overall, not the worst part of the movie. That is… The story. Oh, the story. It was a wonder how this script was greenlit with plot holes large enough to drain the ocean. Several key plot devices were never explained. Time travel is a fickle mistress that arbitrarily decides who arrives when and where without ever saying why. According to this movie, that is. It seems that the only reason Batman and the Batfamily arrived in feudal Japan is because the writers wanted them to. Why did Batman arrive two years late to the war? Same reason. It seems a lot of the movie’s story focuses on what the writers want Batman to do, rather what Batman would do. We have a term for this kind of story: bad fanfiction. For example, Batman and Catwoman disguised themselves as Christian missionaries to avoid drawing attention to themselves. That was fine. Until you look at the back of Friar Bruce’s shaved head and see the Batsignal painted on. It is never mentioned, explained, noticed, or brought up ever again. There was absolutely no reason for it to be there, except for the writers’ whims. An even larger offender is the Batmobile. Batman Ninja’s Batmobile showed up at minute fifteen and was gone by twenty. In this time, it became the Batwing, which became the Batcycle, which became an armoured suit, which was then unceremoniously crushed by a stray mecha hand. The entirety of this sequence was completely unnecessary and disappointing, much like the rest of the movie. While on the subject of mechas, they played a very large, but largely futile role in this movie. Somehow, feudal Japan managed to acquire the resources and technology required to recreate Guren Lagann mechs, which were powered by the remnants of the time machine. If we did not explain this well, neither did the movie. Then, there’s the Batmech. A mech made out of bats and monkeys. Just like how it sounds, it was entirely nonsensical and unnecessary to a plot which was already in tatters to begin with. In short, Ninja Batman started out as a great concept. Batman in feudal Japan is an interesting combination with a lot of potential. This movie took that potential and replaced a good story with mechs. It should go without saying that Batman should not be in a mecha fantasy story set in the warring states. The movie would have come out better had it focused on Batman fighting against Gotham’s gallery of villains turned feudal lords, rather than making them puppets to a self-sabotaging plot. Batman Ninja may have flopped, but at least it looked great doing it.