Released in 2019 Batman Vs Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is an animated feature film based upon a six-part crossover comic book series by James Tynion IV and Freddy Williams II. This film marks the first collaboration between Warner Bros. and Nickelodeon, plus is the first time Warner Bros. have released a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie since 2007’s TMNT.
Okay, first off in case you don’t know let me give you some background to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, basically they were four ordinary turtles that were exposed to a weird substance known as Ooze which mutated them into humanoid creatures. They were trained to follow the ways of the ninja by their Master and father-figure Splinter, a man who was mutated by the same Ooze turning him into a humanoid rat. They traditionally battle a masked man named Shredder, and his Foot Clan who seek to take over the world. Shredder is sometimes the servant of an inter-dimensional brain-like creature named Krang who has a monstrous fortress called the Technodrome...are you all still with me??
Well, regardless of how you answered I am going to crack on regardless. Now back in the 1990s the Turtles were everywhere, there were live action films, animated series, toys, games and the popularity of the characters even led to them doing talk shows and even a Musical Christmas Special and concerts. Basically you couldn’t move without bumping into something Turtles related, but over time interest faded. The Turtles received something of a revival in 2014 when Michael Bay directed a live action film which I haven’t seen but I can pretty safely say lots of stuff blew up and have virtually no character development. There was a sequel in 2016, which again I didn’t see, but I can pretty safely say a lot of stuff blows up and there was little to no character development.
Personally I haven’t really thought about the Turtles since the 2007 film, however, whilst browsing on Amazon the other day I saw that a new film was out in which Batman meets the pizza-loving turtles (oh yeah, forgot to mention the turtles like pizza and are named after the Renaissance painters Leonardo, Donatello, Raphael, and Michelangelo). Naturally I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to see the Dark Knight going up against the Turtles.
Now recently I have been watching several different animated films starring the Dark Knight, in particular The Son of Batman, Batman Vs Robin and Batman Bad Blood. These three films were linked and featured Bruce Wayne meeting his son Damien, whom he’d had with Talia al Ghul. I think depending on the continuity in some Talia drugged him and had sex with him, in others he willingly had sex with her because he was thinking with his heart rather than his head. The pioit is that those filmswere violent and Damien was struggling to follow the lead of his father, a man who opposes Damien’s beloved Grandfather Ra’s al Ghul. I wonmdered if Batman Vs Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles would try to follow the gritty and bone crunching feel of those films, and how it would successfully do that with the Turtles.
So, the film opens with Barbara Gordon being shown some technology or other when the laboratory is attacked by members of the Foot Clan, who are successful in stealing the tech, but not before a group have leapt in to try and stop them. Barbara believes them to be metahumans and informs Batman.
Batman deduces that the Clan’s next target will be Wayne Enterprises so sets a trap for them, he is able to defeat numerous ninjas, and battles their leader, Shredder. The fight is brutal but the Shredder is able to get the upper hand after delivering a blow to Batman that the Dark Knight has never encountered before. Meanwhile, Batgirl meets the meta humans who identify themselves as the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles who have come to Gotham to stop Shredder and find out who his new partner is.
Batman and the Turtles encounter one another in an alleyway and fight, both believing that the other is the Shredder’s partner. Batman is the more experienced fighter and is able to defeat the Turtles forcing them to retreat.
Donatello is able to deduce the location of the Batcave and battle Robin as he attempts to defend the cave. Batman joins the fray and both sides realise that they are not enemies, and are both trying to stop Shredder.
Opting to work together Batman, Robin and Batgirl join forces with the Turtles as they determine what Shredder is up to, and who his partner is...
First thing I realised within a couple of minutes of the film beginning is this is definitely not a film that is supposed to be taken seriously, and serves more as a bit of fun for both DC and Nickelodeon.
The personalities of both the Turtles and Batman remain more-or-less the same, with the exception of a speech Leonardo gives the Dark Knight in which he talks about family and such, which provokes Batman into allowing the impulsive Turtles to fight alongside him. Yeah, Batman of Son of Batman, Batman Vs Robin and Batman Bad Blood was a bot of an arse, and no emotional speech would ever convince him that he cannot do things alone because that is kind-of his whole deal. Personally he party-dude Michelangelo was my favourite turtle and he has more than a little hero-worship of Batman. In fact Michelangelo might be the best thing in the film with him basically stealing every scene with his interactions with Alfred plus whilst riding in the Batmobile being particular highlights.
It was also fun to see Batgirl bouncing off Donatello in her dialogue about the Ooze, plus Robin bonds with Raphael as they are both rather impulsive but have the best interests of those around them at heart. I wasn’t sure if this Robin was Damien Wayne as he is never referred to anything other than Robin. However, there is a moment when he refers to Batman as “Father” so presumably this is Damien Wayne. Which after the deadly serious incarnation of him in the other recent animations I’ve seen it was nice to just watch him getting to have some fun being a kid.
The action is pretty decent with Batman and the Turtles bringing their different fighting styles to the table, plus Shredder is quite a formidable opponent that gives even the Dark Knight problems.
The Ooze that transformed the Turtles is also used to mutate various inmates of Arkham Asylum leading to a great moment involving Poison Ivy. Admittedly the film did start to lose me a bit there as the Joker, Mr Freeze, Two-Face and other turn into human-sized animals but this is not supposed to be anything other than a bit of fun so don’t let things like that bug you.
I was expecting the Turtles to have ended up in Gotham through some kind of multi-dimensional shenanigans, but it seems that in this film, the Turtles live in New York battling the Shredder. I don’t know if in the DC Universe any superheroes have claimed New York as their home (unlike Marvel in which basically every superhero lives in the Big Apple) as most heroes seem to have surrogate New York-esque homes like Gotham, Metropolis and so on, so perhaps there is space in DC for the Turtles.
This is a film that is not to be taken seriously, the action is pretty good, the fights well done and the Turtles are able to stand shoulder to shoulder with the Dark Knight. Plus the Shredder proves to be a formidable opponent with other Batman villains popping up throughout the proceedings too.
All in all I enjoyed the film, it was fun to see the Turtles with Batman and Co sharing an adventure with the Dark Knight even uttering the Turtles’ catchphrase. Just remember that this is just meant to be a bit of fun, so just enjoy the preposterous spectacle before you as Batman’s straight-man runs alongside the more child friendly and funny Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
I am happy to give the film a Thumbs Up because it is good fun and if you are a fan of Batman or the Turtles, or both then you should enjoy this little crossover. For everyone else, check it out anyway, as it is still a decent film with enough action and humour to keep you interested.
7.5/10 – I enjoyed the film once I settled into the grove of just enjoying it for what it was and not expecting it to follow the continuity of the previous films we’ve watched. This is certainly one of the better films I have watched which have starred the lean green fighting machines. By the way, there is a bit after the credits so be sure to stick around to see that.