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Daddy Issues Abound in Latest 'Batman' Animated Adventure

10 Apr, 2015 By: John Latchem

ANAHEIM, Calif. — Father-son relationships are often depicted as troubled in movies, but that cinematic staple is taken to a new level in Batman vs. Robin, the latest entry in the DC Universe line of ‘PG-13’ animated superhero movies.

The filmmakers and cast gathered at the Anaheim Convention Center April 3 at WonderCon 2015 for a screening of the film, which was recently released on DVD, Blu-ray and Digital HD by Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.

A direct sequel to last year’s Son of Batman, the newest movie finds Batman (Jason O’Mara) still struggling to raise his son, Damian (Stuart Allan), who under the guise of Robin is lured into the service of the murderous Talon (Jeremy Sisto), henchman to the mysterious Court of Owls, a secret cabal that has controlled Gotham City for centuries.

The plot is primarily inspired by 2011’s popular “Court of Owls” arc from the “Batman” comic book.

“It’s a great storyline,” said supervising producer James Tucker. “There’s a great villain that pushes Batman to the edge, and with Damian involved it pushes him even more.”

However, according to screenwriter J. M. DeMatteis, the film is really an amalgam of several storylines featured in the comics.

“The fun was we had this wonderful Court of Owls mythology to play with, but we weren’t doing a straight adaptation, so we could pick and choose — there’s a wonderful scene there, there’s a wonderful character there, a wonderful villain — and use that as the foundation and yet build a whole new story on top of that,” DeMatteis said. “And it’s a deeply emotional story about one man who is totally ill-equipped to be a father, and this kid who in his own ways is totally ill-equipped to be a son, and how they try so desperately to find each other. So to me the court of owls is the playground they play in, but it’s really that Batman/Damian story that pulls it all together.”

DeMatteis said establishing an emotional connection with the characters was a huge motivation in writing the script.

“It really was about the arc of Bruce’s relationship with Damian and how that went through the movie, as Damian meets this other character, the Talon, and how he’s tempted to the dark side,” DeMatteis said. “And knowing Damian’s character, it’s not when he comes back but will he come back. And that’s the heart and soul of it. The Batman/Damian relationship starts off at one place at the beginning of this movie and goes through quite a journey and ends up at an entirely different place by the end. So if there’s going to be a third movie, the core thing that’s going to push it forward is going to be that relationship.”

O’Mara said he was especially interested in exploring how the addition of Damian into Batman’s life would ultimately affect both characters.

“You can’t tell the story of Damian Wayne unless you go into Batman’s psyche, and I think those are the Batman stories I enjoy the most,” O’Mara said. “There was a phase there for a while where Batman was mostly just solving crimes, and as compelling as that can be, sometimes it can come off like ‘CSI’ in a cowl. So this is much more emotionally charged.”

O’Mara, being a father himself, also found himself relating to those aspects of the story.

“Batman’s just one of many possible mentors in this situation, but also we get to see how Batman’s origin story affects him and his hopes and fears for Damian,” O’Mara said. “I think that’s what I was most excited about, was using Batman’s dark history to shed some light on his relationship with Damian.

“The fact that he sees his own mortality and sees when he hangs up his cowl and cape that Damian is the future, and that Damian could also be Gotham’s future, for better or worse, that’s kind of a scary thought. And it’s a scary thought for any father. ‘What is my son going to become?’”

Allan said those questions really help set this film above Son of Batman.

“Damian has reached a point where every kid wonders, ‘Who am I? What do I want to do with my life? That kind of thing,” Allan said. “And now Damian is conflicted between his League of Assassins instinctive nature with the Court of Owls or to stay with the innate justice sense of Batman.”

“You have a situation where his son is a trained assassin and in many ways can fight better than Batman,” O’Mara said. “He’s not just his son, he’s a viable superhero or supervillain; it all depends on the choices that Damian’s going to make as to what he becomes.”

Added Allan: “I hope he makes the right decision in the end.”

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