A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Batman vs. Robin is a 2015 animated feature in which Bruce Wayne/Batman has a difficult time convincing his 10-year-old son Damian/Robin that "justice, not vengeance" is the only true way to fight crime. Parents and grandparents looking for the 1960s campy "Caped Crusaders" who punctuated their fight scenes with "POW!" and "BAM!" should look elsewhere; this is the darker, more conflicted and complex Batman superhero we have come to expect in more recent decades. There are disturbing scenes of children being held prisoner in small cages in an abandoned factory by a villain called the Dollmaker who sews doll masks on children's faces and has them do his bidding. The Dollmaker also wears a sewn-on doll mask and could easily scare younger or sensitive kids. In flashback scenes, young Bruce Wayne is shown watching his parents get shot and killed by a masked gunman in a dark alley, and the villain called Talon is shown as a young boy being physically and verbally abused by his father. Batman is given a strong hallucinogenic drug; his surroundings psychedelically throb and undulate around him. There are fight and battle scenes throughout -- even Alfred the butler gets in on the action by shooting a rifle -- and occasional profanity ("bastard," "sons of bitches") and some sexual innuendo between Bruce Wayne and his girlfriend and between the former Robin and his girlfriend. Though this is an excellent animated feature of the highest quality, the graphic content and mature themes make this best for teens and older.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
In BATMAN VS. ROBIN young Damian (Stuart Allan) is in open rebellion against his father, Bruce Wayne. He has taken to sneaking out at night from Wayne Mansion in his Robin costume and attempting to fight villains and criminals on his own terms. He bristles against the strict "No killing" rule enforced by his father. His independent streak and open rebellion intensifies when he meets a villain called Talon, who dresses like an owl and swoops in and kills an evil child predator called the Dollmaker when Damian struggles with doing the same. As Talon tries to lure Damian/Robin away from Batman's clutches, a greater evil is revealed: Talon has been trained by members of the Court of Owls, Gotham City oligarchs who believe that the only way to eliminate crime in their city is by taking no prisoners, showing no mercy, and wreaking vengeance on criminals rather than seeking justice. Batman must find a way to stop Talon and the Court of Owls, and he also must find a way to reign in Damian/Robin's explosive rage and temper at both the evils of the world around him and at the shortcomings of his father.
Is it any good?
This is unafraid to explore serious themes of crime and punishment, fathers and sons, unchecked power, and oligarchy. The disturbing images, frequent violence, and conflicted heroes and villains all serve this higher purpose of illuminating these weighty themes. This movie is so far removed from the 1960s campy Batman and Robin, it's almost impossible to believe that both versions exist on the same planet.
Though the title Batman vs. Robin implies much more of a conflict between the two characters than actually exists in the movie, the battles between Bruce Wayne/Batman and Damian/Robin are palpable and fraught with tension; some of them are as accessible as the arguments most fathers and young sons contend with from time to time, and others address the deepest debates of contemporary society. Batman Vs. Robin fearlessly explores these themes while not forgetting the action and discord for even a second.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Batman vs. Robin's violence. Does it seem necessary to the overall story or does it seem gratuitous?
The childhoods of Batman and Talon are revealed through flashbacks. How do these flashbacks add another dimension to both characters?
How does the incredible evil of the Dollmaker underscore the struggles Damian contends with in terms of Batman's "no killing" rule, and how does it heighten the overall theme of justice vs. vengeance?
- On DVD or streaming: April 14, 2015
- Cast: Stuart Allan, Troy Baker, Kevin Conroy
- Director: Jay Oliva
- Studio: Warner Home Video
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Superheroes, Adventures, Misfits and Underdogs
- Run time: 72 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: Intense action and violence, suggestive images and thematic elements.
- Last updated: February 26, 2021
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