BY ELLIOT LINES DECEMBER 7, 2023
A new animated holiday adventure centring of the son of the Caped Crusader.
Merry Little Batman sees Damian Wayne (Yonas Kibreab) having to confront his father’s (Luke Wilson) rogues gallery in his city after finding himself alone at Wayne Manor.
To say that DC’s visual output has been very divisive is certainly an understatement: from critically acclaimed recent outings such as The Batman & Peacemaker, critically savaged earlier features (Batman vs Superman & Suicide Squad), billion dollar mixed reception responses (Aquaman & Joker), the “hierarchy of power in the DC Universe” failing to change (Black Adam), a string of bombs (Shazam! Fury of the Gods, The Flash & Blue Beetle) and a now a new universe attempt once again with James Gunn’s DCU.
Amongst all this comes Merry Little Batman, a perfectly adequate distraction that may feel a little stretched thin (even with its short runtime) for an older audience, but will absolutely become a festive staple of its target demographic. Admittedly this does at one point feel like it could potentially feel like it’s building to its final act around the halfway mark and narratively/thematically speaking you will have seen a lot of the beats more effectively presented in other kids flicks.
That being said the relentlessly energetic, wacky and upbeat attitude of the film is palpable and there are plenty of references, Easter eggs and handful of genuinely chuckle worthy gags that comic book geeks like myself will approve of. The animation style is a little jarring at first and it certainly will turn off some viewers, however the gonzo exaggerated designs are certainly unique (with Alfred and Bane looking particularly hilariously ghoulish) with keeping faithful to the material. Lastly, the punky soundtrack (courtesy of Fall Out Boy’s Patrick Stump) is a welcome addition.
The voice acting is fittingly over-the-top and matches the bizarro art style. In all honesty though, I don’t think Luke Wilson ever fully convinced me as a Bruce Wayne… he’s not bad, but he’s just not Batman. Yonas Kibreab is an enthusiastic, motormouth of mischief as Damian Wayne and both James Cromwell and David Hornsby deliver as Alfred and the Joker respectively.
Merry Little Batman is a decent Chrimbo animation that will be an absolute blast for its target demographic. The eccentric animation, entertaining action, voice acting and rocky soundtrack work together to distract from the stretched premise, familiar traits and tropes.