A father’s legacy can be a crushing weight for a kid to live up to—especially when dad won’t let the child follow in his footsteps.
Damien Wayne is the son of Bruce Wayne—Batman, to all you evildoers. But when Bruce learned that he would soon be a father, he put in the overtime work, taking down all the city’s criminals in mass to make it safe for little Damien. Now, the infamous Arkham Asylum is now Arkham Daycare, and Gotham’s been voted the “safest place on planet Earth.”
With no crime to bust, Damien and Bruce spend their days hanging around Wayne Manor. And with Christmas coming, Bruce decides to let Damien open a present one day early.
Inside that box, the Batman-obsessed Damien finds a utility belt—his father’s first one, in fact, modified to be child-safe. Now, it includes a first-aid kit, foam Batarangs and safety whistle. Bruce tells a slightly disappointed Damien that he’ll need to earn the weapon attachments when he’s older.
And that’s when the dust-covered Batphone rings, beckoning for Bruce to travel to Nova Scotia to investigate a strange weather occurrence. He doesn’t want to leave Damien (especially on Christmas Eve), but none of the other Justice League members are available. So he soon prepares to be vengeance for the Canadian province.
Damien tries to stowaway in one of Bruce’s bags. And as he tries to prove his fighting abilities to his dad, Damien only succeeds in kicking Alfred in his “one good hip.” Furious, Bruce confiscates the utility belt and gives it to Alfred. Batman tells his son that he’s not ready for the responsibility of it before zipping away. Damien is devastated, so much so that Alfred decides to go to the store to get the ingredients needed to make his world-famous hot chocolate to try to cheer the boy up, leaving the belt behind.
And while he’s away, that’s when a couple of burglars sneak into Wayne manor and manage to get away with the utility belt. But that’s nothing but good news to Damien—because if he can track them down and get his belt back, his dad will finally recognize Damien’s ability to dish out a dark night’s worth of justice.
Damien believes his dad is “babying” him by not allowing him to begin practicing with weapons. And while Bruce does make comments that indicate a bit of overprotective parenting, Damien ultimately learns that Bruce just doesn’t want Damien to grow up too fast. After all, Bruce never truly got to experience much of his childhood, since his parents were murdered when he was a boy.
At the same time, Bruce recognizes that Damien is a lot more capable of taking care of himself than Bruce initially believed, and he begins to allow Damien to experience a little more independence.
Damien hits some moments of discouragement and temptation to do some bad things, but he continues to fight evil and seeks to protect that which is good.
Alfred intentionally tries to cheer Damien up when he’s upset.
Damien briefly sings the first line of “O Holy Night.” We also hear a little of “Silent Night.”
We hear vague sentiments such as, “Father Christmas is watching.” We see a menorah in a window. Someone exaggerates, saying, “Tonight, hell freezes over.” Christmas is generally considered joyless apart from gift giving.
A few animated characters’ rears are briefly accentuated for the purposes of toilet humor. Damien falls face first into a cat’s backside. Damien’s suit adheres to his body, and it briefly shows the fabric against his rear.
Damien changes out of his clothes to wear a Batman costume, and we see his Batman-themed underwear on top of the pile. Damien dives into a pool and loses his swim trunks, which we see on top of a nearby statue.
Damien bursts through a painting of a nude lady covering her body with her arms. When Damien finds Bruce’s Batman suits, he looks at one which has spiked nipples and comments that it “leaves nothing to the imagination.”
The bad guy Bane is an extremely muscular man, and Poison Ivy wears a small outfit. A video briefly jokes about puberty.
Bruce briefly talks to Damien about the boy’s mother being a supervillain, which alludes to Damien being born out of wedlock.
Damien uses explosives to blow up a home. People endure violent situations, such as being set on fire or hit with normally lethal weapons (though such moments are played as slapstick).
However, two goons get dropped in a vat of liquid and sink below the surface, and we never see them again. Someone fires an RPG. Some people are punched or kicked. A man trips over a little girl, and the two are knocked unconscious. Buildings burn down. A car explodes.
Bruce says that he’s broken all of his ribs from his crime-fighting, and he pulls his shirt up to reveal the (frankly) grotesque sagging skin beneath.
Damien has to survive dangerous scenarios, too, such as dodging falling broken glass or plummeting from a lethal height. A couple of burglars hold a man and woman hostage as they rob homes.
Bruce imagines a scenario in which Alfred and Damien perish in a house fire. Someone is smacked with a giant mallet.
We hear one use of “crap,” and we hear the British vulgarity “bloody” once. As for other mild language concerns, we hear “gosh,” someone is called an “idiot,” and someone screams out “oh biscuits!” Someone’s called what sounds like a “turd muffin.”
Someone comments that a “diaper’s integrity has been compromised.” A man is described as “incontinent.” We hear a couple flatulent sound effects. We also hear a comment about Damien getting a “brain parasite from [the cat’s] fecal matter.”
We hear a song about a man being robbed. Damien smashes his grandfather’s ashes vase as well as some other items as he rambunctiously plays.
Damien tricks Alfred in order to get what he wants.
In Merry Little Batman, we meet two likeable characters, a father and his son, who both have good intentions. Bruce wants to keep Damien safe, and Damien wants to protect Gotham’s citizens from evildoers. By the end of this Y7 Amazon Prime release, father and son both come to understand each other’s desires better.
If Damien Wayne was in a different cinematic universe, someone might have told him, “With great power comes great responsibility.” Bruce tries to teach him that idea when he gives his young, aspiring hero a utility belt filled with safety equipment. Bruce doesn’t want to discourage Damien’s dreams of succeeding him as Batman, but he wants the boy to grow into the role with maturity.
At least, that’s probably what Bruce tells himself. In reality, Bruce probably would never allow Damien to do what he does—it’s far too dangerous, he says. And he loves Damien too much to allow the boy to put himself in harm’s way, even if it is for the sake of others.
Merry Little Batman is mostly what you’d expect in a kid-oriented version of this franchise. But there are a few issues of note. Violence in this animated film is present, even if it is slapstick. Picture Home Alone levels of danger, where villains are burned or otherwise harmed in ways that would typically be lethal and yet are merely shaken off by our characters. We also have to contend with a couple gags of the toilet humor variety.
I doubt that Merry Little Batman will be the movie you play to get into the Christmas spirit. Other than one villain’s attempt to ruin the holiday, à la the Grinch, there aren’t any Christmas-specific family messages to be gained from it.
But as Batman content goes, you could definitely do a lot worse.
Kennedy Unthank studied journalism at the University of Missouri. He knew he wanted to write for a living when he won a contest for “best fantasy story” while in the 4th grade. What he didn’t know at the time, however, was that he was the only person to submit a story. Regardless, the seed was planted. Kennedy collects and plays board games in his free time, and he loves to talk about biblical apologetics. He doesn’t think the ending of Lost was “that bad.”