I am, by the very dent of my nature, a skeptic. I’m not proud to admit it nor am I shamed by it. It’s just the way it is. When the DC and IDW team-up miniseries of Batman vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles came out, obviously, my skepticism won out. I didn’t read it and I wouldn’t, no matter who told me I should. “No” I said, “That sounds a bit too childish for me”. Then the movie came out. Now, I can skip a comic, but I’ll watch just about anything that comes out of the DC Animated department. I’ve been told it’s based on the miniseries and, if that’s so, then I was right. It is childish. The exact kind of movie every adult yearns for. A movie that takes you back to your childhood. One that reminds you that you were once a kid that watched Saturday morning cartoons and were amazed. That’s what Batman vs. TMNT felt like to me, a return to sitting in front of the TV after school. And it was great. Better than it has any right to be.
Immediately, I was drawn in by a shot of the blimps in the red Gotham sky. I’m sure that anyone that used to watch the amazing Batman the Animated Series will feel that same tingle I got when they passed overhead. I will say I was a bit disappointed that we didn’t get that beautiful Bruce Timm artwork, but any doubts I had were quickly washed away as the movie progressed. The animation may have been different, but the feeling was still ever present. The classic jump and stand, cape draped over the Dark Knight, it was so like the Animated Series I was honestly surprised that Troy Baker voiced Batman rather than the beloved Kevin Conroy. Still, he did an excellent turn as the detective. There were other changes I felt added to the movie without taking away my memories of the old Animated Series. First, they updated the costume for Batgirl and, while I’m a fan of classics, the newer costume just seemed more fun and functional. Having the costume from the newer comic series felt like a blending of the old and the new. The second change was who wore the tights of Robin. I’m going to tell you a secret: I love Damian Wayne as Robin. He might be my favorite of all the sidekicks. This isn’t to say he’s the best Robin, that’s just crazy. We all know the best Robin was Dick Grayson, I’m just saying that Damian, for me, is more fun and I really liked his role in the movie.
The Turtles had a very similar vibe happening. Many us grew up on the old Ninja Turtles cartoon. You know the one I’m talking about, not the newer one that’s got all the grittiness to it, the first one. It was goofy, each turtle having his own personality and voice in the show. Michelangelo was always cracking jokes, Donatello was constantly using science jargon, Leonardo was more like a Samurai than a Ninja, and Raphael was always bucking his leadership. All of that comes through in the movie. I won’t ruin it but if you were a fan of the show, if you collected the figures and yelled “Cowabunga!” more than was necessary, but there are some cameos that you’re going to adore. Again, the animation is different than what we remember as classic, but the same themes are still present. Mikey’s quips are just as hilarious as they were when I was in 6th grade. Oh, and there is, of course, a love of pizza that is only rivaled by my own.
Whether you’re new to either license, or you’re an old hat from the former series, I think you’ll enjoy this movie as much as I did. Whenever anyone asks, I always say the same thing “It’s better than it has any right to be”, and I feel that’s true even now. I don’t think it’s hyperbolic to claim that it has everything a fan of both franchises will want. Even more, it combines them in such a way that it will satisfy you even if you’re only a fan of one of them. There’s action, adventure and, I found, more humor than I thought for a crossover of this kind. I came into it expecting a very cheesy cartoon, created only for kids and I was right, only it was the kid in all of us that it was made for. Check it out now on select digital services to buy the Blu-Ray or DVD on June 4, 2019.