October 18, 2022
4K/Blu-Ray/Digital Release

Streaming Release

Blu-Ray Review
Batman and Superman: Battle of the Super Sons

In Batman and Superman: Battle of the Super Sons, Jonathan Kent is looking forward to his birthday but is increasingly tired of his parents' careers getting in the way of family time. However, he soon begins to manifest super powers and learns his father is Superman. Jonathan is introduced to Superman's world and meets Batman and his son Robin. It couldn't come at a more important time as the alien Starro has set its giant eye on taking over Earth and leeching the life out it in its conquest of the universe. Jonathan and Robin find themselves the only two standing in Starro's way. As of the publishing of this review, it has not been revealed when the movie will stream on HBO Max but it is now out on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, and Digital since October 18, 2022. Batman and Superman: Battle of the Super Sons sports a creative crew of director Matt Peters, writer Jeremy Adams, and producer Rick Morales.

The central draw in Batman and Superman: Battle of the Super Sons is the stars being the young Super Sons rather than Batman and Superman in a conventional super hero story dealing with Starro's invasion. Jonathan is immediately endearing and looks out into the world unfiltered, just full of joy whereas Damian is... very Damian. While lacking in manners but making up in bravado, a key scene reveals under that pathological exterior is a boy who just wants to be among peers. Together, the two are just as entertaining as their fathers with a solid set of quips and banter. Also, there were other great pairings in the movie like Robin and Bat Cow as well as Hologram Jor-El and Krypto. There are an assortment of nods and references to the greater DC, including a fun update to the girl who sees Superman in Superman (1978), inspiration from the Super Sons comic books like the Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason run, a shout out to artist José Luis García-López in Jonathan's bedroom, mentions of other superheroes and companies like Kord Tech, and even a hat tip to an alternate version of Superman from the comics when Jonathan is considering his superhero codename. The CG animation for the most part was fluid and clean much like past release Batman Ninja. Undoubtedly, visually engaging and just pulls you in. Some character models did appear stiff during some of the fight scenes and 'character' interactions like Batman hugging Robin at the end but overall, it was an impressive visual feast and I hope to see more of it used in future releases.

Longtime DC fans don't need to see Krypton blow up for the umpteenth time but the difference in this movie is it ties into and sets up the main narrative: Starro got free from Jor-El's lab during the last seconds of the planet and spread into the universe and the rocket and blanket for Kal-El comes into play for the Super Sons plans later on. It also shifts to a retro comic book style montage summing up Superman's life (Sorry Batman fans, they decided we didn't need to speed through Batman's life). In the present, we find young Jonathan Kent, the son of Clark Kent and Lois Lane, bereft that his parents have the most boring jobs ever: reporters. Superman saves the Justice League's headquarters the Watchtower after it oddly falls out of orbit without cause. Green Arrow soon is discovered by the "cause." Jonathan, unaware his father is Superman, is upset his dad was absent from his baseball game and later out of anger he manifests heat vision. His abject fear is replaced with elation after he finds out his dad is Superman. To get a handle on his son's powers, Superman flies him to Gotham City to be tested by Batman. Jonathan also meets Damian, the current Robin and the son of Batman, raised by one of Batman's greatest enemies and a group of ninja assassins. He's a little hard around the edges and not a fit candidate for the Teen Titans. Slowly, the spores of Starro take over all of the superheroes, heads of state, and many citizens all over the world. Robin avoids certain death and heads to Smallville to retrieve Jonathan only to narrowly escape a Starro-controlled Lois Lane. They take shelter in Superman's Fortress of Solitude then head to the Watchtower to take down Starro. They decide to make the choice to make the heroic sacrifice to destroy Starro but are spared as one would expect. Jonathan and Damian decide to forgo joining the Titans and proclaim themselves the Super Sons. Damian can't resist one more test.

The movie's run time is 79 minutes and it runs lean with no filler. The cold open and title sequence gives the audience the necessary details about Superman. While the invasion story advances subtly between scenes in the early half of the movie, the movie focuses on the Kent family and setting Jonathan Kent's arc up. Much like Luke Skywalker in A New Hope discovering his Jedi lineage, the story shifts to Jonathan discovering he has powers and his dad is Superman and embracing it. And the wonder of greater world of superheroes opens up to him. However, Batman can not make any conclusions about when more powers will manifest if any. Jonathan and Robin have an "interesting" introduction to each other. The wide eyed newbie thrilled by the new world meets the hardened sociopath raised by ninja assassins. All you have to know about Robin is expertly presented in a few minutes which works out great since he doesn't appear until about 25 minutes in then the story shifts headlong into a horror invasion thriller. What could have really sunk the pacing really helped increase the stakes and thrills: Lois gets free of a Starro spore and heads out to warn the world but she herself gets in on the scares and the action while Jonathan and Robin deal with Starro and his hero army on the Watchtower. Trying to not to replicate what's been done with Starro in animation before, it was commendable of whomever decided to lean into the horror aspects of the movie by having the spores "hidden" and reveal themselves by emerging from their host's mouths. It also created a sense of paranoia like Invasion of The Body Snatchers where you don't know who is compromised until the every end but arguably it may have come to late in the movie for effectiveness. By the end of the movie, the door is left open for further adventures for this new dynamic duo. Batman and Superman: Battle of the Super Sons is a welcome addition to the growing library of the DC Animated Movie line of animated direct-to-video movies and adds to a nice balance of material with the recent adaptations and ongoing continuity of the DC Universe line. Battle of the Super Sons thrives on its young hero vibe while the adult superheroes take a backseat yet still play a big role.

Jack Dylan Grazer and Jack Griffo lead a small tight cast. Real life couple Travis Willingham and Laura Bailey voice Superman and Lois, respectively with Troy Baker returning to the role of Batman and Tom Kenny to Penguin as well, Nolan North voiced Jor-El, Zeno Robinson voiced Jimmy Olsen and Melvin Masters, Myra Velasco voices Lara and Wonder Girl, and Darin de Paul voices Lex Luthor and Starro. Bailey was the real surprise hit. Once Lois ventures off to warn the world about Starro, Bailey really starts to shine and her acting experience becomes apparent. From "mom" mode, to Starro-controlled, and intrepid reporter on the front lines, Baily gets every facet of Lois and puts on a clinic of voice acting. The score by the Dynamic Music Partners is a fascinating update of classic Superman musical themes, young exuberance and heartfelt.

The special features for the movie are sparse. If you are a long time viewer of the DC animated movie lines, this is unfortunately the norm. "Rival Sons: Jonathan and Damian" runs at 14 minutes and 41 seconds. After a brief overview of the comic history of the World's Finest and Super Sons, the real meat of the featurette are producer Rick Morales, director Matt Peters, writer Jeremy Adams talking about the 1970s and 1980s movie inspirations and own personal goals for the movie. Once again absent from the special features are a commentary track or a behind the scenes making of the movie, the latter which would have made more sense with this movie utilizing 3D animation.

"Batman and Superman: Battle of the Super Sons" is a highly recommended purchase. Despite a bare-bones offering of special features, the movie is a modest love letter to 1980s coming of age cinema with a dash of alien invasion horror and comic book action.

Main Feature: 4 out of 5
Special Features: 2 out of 5
Overall Rating: 3 out of 5