Crossovers in comics isn’t a huge deal as it was before. We’ve seen Superman team up with Spider-Man, Wonder Woman joining forces with Conan and even Archie forming an alliance with, of all people, The Punisher! The absolute king of the comic book crossover, however, has to be Batman as he’s been seen with Spawn, the Predator, Alien, Judge Dreadd, The Punisher and Daredevil, just to name a few.
One of the weirdest but best ones is when Batman crossed paths with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The IDW comic followed the more darker aesthetic of the Heroes in a Half Shell and meshed nicely with The Dark Knight’s kind of stories. So I thought it was strange that, of all the crossovers to port over to animation, DC selected Batman vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Not because of the rather “grimdark” style, but because they were going to use the more “kid friendly” style of the Nickelodeon Turtles.
However, against all odds, the animated Batman vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles just works. I’ll even say it works incredibly well!
Now, if you intend to read on, don’t worry. This will be an entirely SPOILER FREE review of Batman vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Yes, it’s been out on digital format for a while but, since the actual DVD/Blu-Ray version isn’t out yet, I’ll keep this SPOILER FREE, just in case.
Batman vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles has the Turtles following Shredder and the Foot Clan to Gotham City. As the Foot has been stealing various tech from the Caped Crusader’s stomping grounds, Batman, along with Batgirl and Robin, start investigating the thefts, which will eventually lead him to encounter the Turtles. Unbeknownst to both the Batman Family and the Turtles, Shredder has partnered with one of Batman’s deadliest rogues, Ra’s Al Ghul and his League of Assassins.
The first thing I have to talk about this new DC Animated Movie is the art style. It doesn’t follow any of the previous looks of their other animated outings and it shouldn’t because they had to find that perfect balance of serious and silly. After all, we aren’t getting the more gritty look of the IDW comic since DC partnered with Nickelodeon here. However, they did nail that magic balance. Batman’s actual costume isn’t as dark as we usually see it today. His outfit here is more of a bright blue, which is in style with the ’70s era of the character but it works well with the rather comical looking Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
I also love the Turtles overall look here as it meshes my favorite version of the characters, the 2003 animated series, but each of them were given alterations to fit their more modern incarnations as each of them have defining characteristics. Donatello is taller and has a slender body. Raphael is stocky and has more of a brute physique. Michelangelo always has bigger eyes and smaller than the rest of the Turtles while Leonardo is super well rounded. Their look fits their personalities so well.
The action and art direction is also a home run. The fights and action scenes are extremely well done. The fight choreography, in particular, is stunningly beautiful. These characters are known for their superb fight skills so I expected them to kick a whole hell lot of butt. But DC have definitely outdone themselves with Batman vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles as even Batman and the Turtles don’t just have generic fighting styles. There’s also an excellent use of dynamic camera angles, always showing off the most dramatic way of framing the action. You can tell a lot of effort was put into making each battle exciting but still realistic. All that work definitely paid off as I couldn’t get enough of the action here.
I also have to commend DC for the almost pitch perfect casting job they did for Batman vs Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Special props go to Troy Baker here as he plays double duty this time around. He has to play both Batman and The Joker here! The thing is, I honestly thought they got Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill to reprise their roles from Batman: The Animated Series. Imagine my surprise to see that it was just one man, Troy Baker, doing the voices of both characters!
The people they got for the rest of the cast was also really good. The Turtles are voiced to perfection here as well as they managed to convey each of their personalities to a tee. The guys that did Ra’s Al Ghul and Shredder’s voices were great as well. The only ones who I felt were lagging were Keith Ferguson, who voiced Baxter Stockman, and Rachel Bloom, who did Batgirl. My issues with the Baxter Stockman performance is how he sometimes sounds like he’s eating his words when he speaks. With Batgirl, it just felt rather emotionless and flat, almost like she was just reading her lines and not giving it her all. These issues don’t make them terrible performances, however. They just don’t match up to the excellent voice work of the rest of the cast and they stand out because of it.
My biggest gripe with Batman vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is its unbalanced tone. There are a lot of goofy and cartoony moments here, especially whenever the Turtles are on screen. Then, all of a sudden, you get some really explicit violent scenes, mostly involving Ra’s al Ghul’s League of Assassins and Shredder’s Foot Clan, killing people with some rather savage methods. It makes sense, since, well, they are the bad guys, after all. But it just feels weird after seeing the Turtles playing the fool just a few seconds ago. It doesn’t destroy the movie but the more brutal scenes do feel out of place and seem to come out of nowhere.
Overall, Batman vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is an easy recommend. I cannot understate how fantastic the action scenes are here and well worth the price of admission. Troy Baker pulls a tour de force with his voice acting here as well. The rather abrupt change of tones can be jarring but that’s just a very small nitpick in the grand scheme of things. This is a definite must watch for both Batman fans and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle fans. Heck, I say go watch it even if you aren’t! You may actually be a convert after watching this! It’s that good!
Have you seen Batman vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles? What did you think of it? Let me know in the comments section below!