Jonathan Kent and Damian Wayne are the most iconic legacy characters within DC Comics, following in the footsteps of their fathers as Superboy and Robin respectively. In the comics, the adventures of Jon and Damian brought them to face the likes of Kid Amazo, Lex Luthor, Talia al Ghul, and many more threats that their fathers have fought before. In Battle of the Super Sons, the developing companionship of these two characters is continually tested in a way that makes you realize why the Super Sons are an iconic duo in the first place.
Directed by Matt Peters, Battle of the Super Sons sees Jonathan Kent (Jack Dylan Grazer) learning how to master his newfound abilities and pairs up with Damian Wayne (Jack Griffo) to figure out how to stop the intergalactic threat of Starro, whose plans through the infection of humans create a world-ending crisis. Super Sons also sees Troy Baker as Batman, Travis Willingham as Superman, and Laura Bailey as Lois Lane. The film is written by Jeremy Adams and produced by Rick Morales.
For DC’s first outing with computer-generated animation, Super Sons manages to create and build the world of the DC Universe in a way that perfectly accompanies the story and tone that Super Sons wants to make clear. The animation style, inspired by the works of comics artist Jorge Jiménez, helps makes these characters pop out and be able to fully express their emotions in ways that traditional 2D-animation would not have been able to accomplish. The set pieces of the film are also a highlight as it the movie does a great job utilizing hints of horror and suspense, from the lighting to the camerawork, during specific sequences to invigorate those respective emotions. Overall, the decision to create this movie around CG-animation was the perfect move and I have to applaud Peters and the design team for making an aesthetically-pleasing world for this movie.
On top of world design, the designs and portrayals of the main characters are fitting for their respective voice actors and add on to that feeling of realism. Stepping back from the comics origins of these characters, Jon and Damian are essentially aged-up to reflect Grazer and Griffo respectively, but the main characteristics of the Super Sons are still there and because of these factors, Jon and Damian are able to grow an enjoyable ‘sibling-rivalry’ after 20-30 minutes into the film. Grazer provides a sense of excitement and eagerness on a more mature level to Jon unlike his comics counterpart in the first volume of the Super Sons series. On the other hand, Griffo does a great job emphasizing Damian’s personality from being a brooding, isolated emo to coming around Jon and giving Damian more openness even if we don’t see him until later in the movie. Together, Grazer and Griffo are able to make Jon and Damian their own characters and give life to them in a way that hasn’t necessarily been felt in the comics for a while and Adams’ work is best shown here.
As for Baker, Willingham, and Bailey, each actor puts their experience into making their roles impactful. Baker as Batman honestly felt like a younger Kevin Conroy was voicing the character again and he makes this Batman persona ever so entertaining in the parts where it’s supposed to be. Bailey gives Lois Lane a kind and kick-ass personality and presents two sides of the character we’ve seen with more emphasis we’ve only really felt from Superman: The Animated Series. Willingham’s Superman pays homage to his counterpart from Lego DC Super-Villains, as well as parts of Thor from the Disney XD Marvel shows, to make the character into the trusting, loving father he is. These actors do a great job with their roles and provide support for Jon and Damian.
Starro is also a fantastic villain for Jon and Damian to be fighting against and really intensifies the relationship the two grow over time. The character provides a lot of the terror and suspenseful scenes of the film, though you’ll know when you’ll see it. Even though I was skeptical of Starro being added in instead of other Super Sons villains we’ve seen in the comics, I was very pleased with how Starro was utilized for this film.
However, there is one big problem that holds this movie back. The main story does indeed follow Jon and Damian’s development, but the emphasis of the story is heavily placed on Jon rather than allowing both characters to develop with equal screentime. With this story centered around Jon’s development, it would have been nicer to see Damian at the beginning as well. There’s somewhat of a middle-school arc for Jon that’s left for more of a comedic effect and only contributes a little bit to Jon’s actual development as a hero. It would have been better to cut this down, but if it were more Jon-oriented, then this could’ve been a bit expanded on. I think the main problems stem from Adams wanting to push join as the lead character instead of allowing both Jon and Damian to develop at the same time and with the limited runtime, this is the biggest problem.
Nonetheless, Super Sons is able to master the fundamentals of what makes the legacy duo iconic and evolve the dynamic chemistry we’ve seen in the comics. Hopefully, with more handiwork, this movie can spawn another great animated universe to add to DC’s collection of films.
Battle of the Super Sons is available to stream October 18.