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04th Nov 2018

The best Batman movie of the last ten years is now on Netflix

Wil Jones

Batman Ninja is completely bananas

What is the best Batman movie?

A lot of people will say The Dark Knight. Some will say the 1989 Batman with Michael Keaton. A very particular type of nerd with point to Mask of the Phantasm, the spin-off from the 1990s animated show. And I person love the hilarious 1966 spin-off from the Adam West TV show.

But what is the weirdest Batman film? Ok, there’s a case to be made for Batman & Robin, with its Bat-Credit Card, and Bane in a suit and hat.

But the real answer is Batman Ninja, which has just arrived on UK Netflix.

The 2018 animated film was produced by some of Japan’s biggest anime creators, including character designs by Afro Samurai’s Takashi Okazaki, and direction from Junpei Mizusaki (JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure).

It starts out as a pretty standard Batman adventure, with the Caped Crusader fighting Gorilla Grodd in Gotham. But then Grodd uses some newfangled tech to zap Batman back to feudal Japan, where he fights samurai working for the Joker, and encounters Japanese-tinged steampunk re-deigns of his major foes and allies.

This ‘Elseworlds’ type stories are pretty common in DC Comics – things like imagining what Medieval Batman would be like, or caveman Batman, or Victorian Batman, or whatever. 

But Batman Ninja goes much further than that. The full extent of the madness in the film is something I don’t really want to completely spoil, but basically, the Joker’s big plan involves traditional Japanese fortresses that transform to giant robot versions of Batman, Two Face et al. So as well as riffing Akira Kurosawa samurai movies, it also goes into Neon Genesis Evangelion (or at least Power Rangers) style mech action. It’s wild.

The animation is also pretty beautiful – that trailer doesn’t really do it justice, as at points the whole animation style changes to illustrate different character POVs.

Batman Ninja won’t be for everyone – if you think Batman should be grounded and ‘serious’ in a Christopher Nolan/ Frank Miller style, you might end up hating it. But if you want 85 minutes of madness a some great animation, it is definitely worth your time. It’s a lot better than Batman V Superman at least.