Merry Little Batman, 2023.
Directed by Mike Roth.
Featuring the voice talents of Luke Wilson, Yonas Kibreab, James Cromwell, and David Hornsby.
When Damian Wayne is left home alone while his father Batman takes on Gotham’s worst Super-Villains on Christmas Eve, he stumbles upon a villainous plot to steal Christmas and leaps at the chance to save the day.
It’s Christmas time in Gotham City, and Damian Wayne (Yonas Kibreab) wants to be a superhero like his father – the one and only Batman. As Batman (Luke Wilson), Damien, and Alfred (James Cromwell) prepare to spend the holiday together, Batman is soon called away on a Justice League mission, leaving Damian all alone on Christmas Eve. However, after two criminals attempt to burgle Wayne Manor, Damian stumbles upon a villainous plot to steal Christmas, giving Damian the profound opportunity to prove to himself, and his father, that he can be a superhero, just like Batman.
Merry Little Batman is a harmless and super fun animated Christmas romp. Ever since the 1960s Adam West Batman show, audiences haven’t been treated to as light-hearted and fun a Batman adventure and that’s where Merry Little Batman comes in, offering up laugh-out-loud humour, colourful animation, and charming characters – a stark difference to Matt Reeves’ The Batman from last year.
There’s something for everyone in this Home Alone inspired animated Batman flick. Kids will fall in love with the characters, the film’s humour, and its colourful animation; and adults, particularly Batman fans, will get a kick out of the numerous references to Batman and DC lore. The film finds its heart by heavily leaning into the relationship between Bruce and his son Damian, whose familial dynamic is engaging and stirring.
Merry Little Batman is an overzealous animated movie that never eases up, leaving audiences a little exhausted after its 90 minute run time. However, the film finds it fun with its performances, humour, action, and animation style that keep the relentless fast pace from slowing down. While there are a a few moments of levity that help develop the relationship between Bruce and Damian, these moments are few and far between, and are overlooked by the next energetic action sequence.
The animation is astounding, although at times a little freaky. Its overly done characters with exaggerated proportions feel very reminiscent of classic Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network shows. The character designs offer heaps of nostalgia for those who grew up on the 90s to early 2000s animated kids shows, but some children may find them a little creepy. However, its the beautifully done backgrounds that will grab audience’s attention. Despite being lit by the warm glow of Christmas, Gotham City still feels like the gothic, seedy city of which we are all familiar with. Through the architecture, very reminiscent of Tim Burton’s Batman, and Batman: The Animated Series audiences are immersed into an authentic and familiar Gotham City, despite its lighter tone.
Yonas Kibreab is an utter delight as Damian. His exuberant performance is engaging, which helps keep the films pace from every slowing down. And when delving into the characters vulnerability through the never ending love, and approval from his father, Kibreab’s heartwarming performance allows audiences to fully connect, and fall in love with his character. Likewise, Luke Wilson’s take on the Batman is a breath of fresh air. While we have no problem with the broodiness of Robert Pattinson, Michael Keaton, or Christian Bale, Luke Wilson’s protective, caring, and emotional Bruce Wayne was an interesting and welcome portrayal we haven’t quite seen before.
One of the movies major highlights is its narrative focus on Damian Wayne, as opposed to being a fully Batman driven story. This narrative venture delves into Bruce Wayne’s childhood, or lack there of, and his ambition to give Damian the best childhood he could ever wish for – told of course through the rebellious eyes of Damian, who doesn’t quite see it that way. Through Alfred’s many dialogue exchanges with Damian, reassuring him that his father only wants what’s best for him, as well as a touching final few moments, the films narrative is sweet, and deeply fascinating.
Merry Little Batman is packed with innumerable references and Easter egg goodies to the Batman and DC lore. Whether its through the film’s extensive roster of some of Batman’s most iconic Rogues Gallery such as The Joker, Penguin, Poison Ivy, Bane, Mr Freeze, and the Riddler, or through the film’s numerous call backs to the Wonder Twins and Metropolis, Merry Little Batman is a delight for DC fans. Predominantly, most of the references are played as very effective anecdotes, with Damian calling his cat Selina, an obvious reference to Selina Kyle, or Catwoman as she is more commonly known, as well as a brilliantly subtle reference to Talia al Ghul tattooed on Batman’s chest. But perhaps the best, comes in the form of Mr Freeze, sporting an impression very similar to Arnold Schwarzenegger’s take on the iconic character. Terrible ice related puns and all.
While Merry Little Batman won’t be considered among the best Batman films, but it is still a fun, harmless Christmas ride nonetheless. Its laugh-out-loud humour, energetic performances, fluid animation style, and thrilling action make for an entertaining ride for the whole family and for those looking for a light and amusing Christmas film, Merry Little Batman is for you.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★