It’s the Christmas season in Wayne Manor, and the only thing that six-year-old Damian Wayne (Yonas Kibreab) wants is to fight crime with his father, Batman, aka Bruce Wayne (Luke Wilson). On Christmas Eve, Bruce decides to give Damian his present early. Damian eagerly unwraps his gift and discovers a brand-new utility belt. Upon further inspection, Damian finds the belt is more designed to work as a child safety alert, including fake and pretend gadgets, leading to disappointment.
To make matters worse, Bruce soon receives a phone call on the old Bat phone, which hasn’t been used in many years. Thanks to Batman there has been no crime or villains lurking around Gotham City for some time, but this phone call is from the Justice League, who need Batman’s urgent help. Bruce changes into a Batsuit and runs off, leaving Damian and the loyal butler, Alfred (James Cromwell), to celebrate alone. To try to cheer up a sad Damian, Alfred offers to make him hot cocoa and marshmallows. But even this doesn’t go to plan, and Alfred has to dash to the local store as crucial ingredients are missing, leaving Damian home alone. When you thought Christmas couldn’t get any worse for Damian, a pair of crooks decide to break into Wayne Manor. Excitedly, Damian sees it as the perfect opportunity to prove to his father that he’s ready for combat. Instead, the confrontation ends with Damian’s new utility belt getting stolen. Damian is now determined to regain his utility belt and save Christmas for the people of Gotham City.
Merry Little Batman is an animated feature best suited for family audiences and those who adore all things surrounding The Dark Knight. While this is his directorial debut, Mike Roth is well-known as a storyboard artist and writer. He has worked on multiple projects, including the television series Regular Show and Camp Lazlo. If you’ve seen anything by Mike, you’ll already be used to his wacky yet highly creative animation style. Right from the start of this Batman, the animation style is unlike any other Batman story before, with quirky and wacky illustrations.
I loved the primary focus, which was on a young, six-year-old Damian. This feels like a new concept. While the animation style is different and the story focuses on a young Damian, there are plenty of Easter eggs and callbacks for Batman fanatics. Voice work by Luke Wilson as Batman was surprisingly well-suited, as was Yonas Kibreab as Damian. While seeing The Joker make a grand appearance as the main villain was fun, the voice of David Hornsby as The Joker sadly didn’t work for me. Pacing, for the most part, is fine, but certain scenes made me think this film would have been more suitable if it were cut to an hour in duration instead.
Overall, I’ve never seen a Batman film like this before. Merry Little Batman introduces a new animation style that is funny and wacky to see, along with a different kind of story that follows Damian, the son of Batman at the age of six, trying to save Christmas in Gotham City. For the most part, I enjoyed seeing Damian running around Gotham City. The character has a playful level of cheekiness and a heartfelt passion to try and make his father proud. The leading voice cast, for the most part, is great, and the many Easter eggs and random gags are welcoming for this holiday season. Despite a few concerns with the voice cast and a slow pace during crucial scenes, the film is enjoyable and festive.
Merry Little Batman (2023) is Available on Prime Video from December 8th.