Batman vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: My Childhood Dream is Real (Spoiler-Free)

SpoilerFree

The Dark Knight meets the Heroes on the Half-Shell and it’s just a great time all around.

SUMMARY (Spoiler-Free)

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Leonardo: Eric Bauza, Raphael: Darren Criss, Donatello: Baron Vaughn, Michelangelo: Kyle Mooney) come to Gotham City after they find out that their nemesis the Shredder (Andrew Kishino) and his army of foot ninjas have set up shop in the city. Batman (Troy Baker) discovers that high-tech thefts have been occurring involving ninjas all around the city. Batgirl (Rachel “Yes, that Rachel Bloom” Bloom) witnesses one of these thefts, but believes that the TMNT, who were there to stop it, are the culprits. Batman and the Turtles fight, then they unite to take down the Foot Clan and Batman’s Rogues’ Gallery. 

BatmanTMNT - 1Lineup
If this came out in 1994, it would have broken reality.

END SUMMARY

Crossovers aren’t new. They’ve been happening since Apollonius Rhodius decided to get an audience by going “hey, did you guys know there’s a story where Hercules, Orpheus, the Gemini twins, Achilles’ dad, some flying brothers, and a bunch of other heroes all went on a quest together?” The Argonauts were just the Avengers of Ancient Greece. I’d say Justice League, but I’m still smarting from that movie. 

BatmanTMNT - 2Steppenwolf
The villains in this animated movie look more convincing.

Crossovers are common in animation (Scooby-Doo has met just about everyone at some point) and in comic books (Archie has met the Punisher, the Predator, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Harley Quinn, and Vampirella), so this particular one was basically inevitable. Hell, apparently there have now been 3 different comic crossovers between these properties, including the one that forms the basis of this film. So, the team pretty much just had to deliver everything that’s good about Batman with everything that’s good about the Ninja Turtles. Since both of them have had SO MANY adaptations, they could reasonably give the two properties any number of qualities and they would still probably feel true to the source. 

BatmanTMNT - 3Crossover
I admit that I like the comic art much more.

Well, good news, the movie definitely gets across versions of both franchises. In fact, I think it’s safe to say that this movie is no more and no less than what it promised in the title. 

Here are the good parts:

The fight scenes in the film are pretty creative and they do manage to demonstrate the abilities of all of the parties involved. Special credit goes to the Shredder v. Batman fight, because it’s everything I wanted and more. It’s one of the few moments in the film where I was genuinely surprised at the quality. The fight between Batman and the TMNT is, likewise, awesome.

BatmanTMNT - 4Shredder
Seriously, this is one of the best fight sequences ever animated. 

The voice casting in the movie is amazing. I particularly like that Troy Baker voices both Batman and the Joker, giving the characters an appropriate level of mirroring that isn’t usually present. I also loved Rachel Bloom as Batgirl, though that might be because I just love Rachel Bloom. Each of the turtles has an appropriately distinct voice that lends itself to their personality, just like in most of the adaptations. 

BatmanTMNT - 5Batgirl
This movie almost makes up for Batgirl’s terrible Killing Joke animated prologue. Almost.

The writing is pretty good. Definitely more effort than you’d usually get from a direct-to-video film like this. Is it going to match something like Into the Spider-verse or The Lego Movie? No, but it does a good job not distracting you from the action sequences. Also, they definitely manage to get in almost all the cameos and interactions that you wanted from a movie like this without most of them feeling insanely contrived. 

BatmanTMNT - 6Penguin
Somehow this fight isn’t over in 2 seconds.

This film is one of the few to actually make use of a PG-13 rating. This movie is violent, far more so than most adaptations of Batman or the TMNT, harkening back to the roots of both series. 

BatmanTMNT - 7BW.jpg
Like how the turtles offered Shredder the opportunity to KILL HIMSELF.

The bad stuff:

Look, it’s a superhero crossover and those have certain things that have to happen. The heroes have to fight each other and then team up to fight the actual bad guy. It’s such a cliché that Watchmen mentioned it as something that typically happens in hero interactions back in 1985. The upside is that the film gets most of the adversarial stuff out of the way pretty early, so it’s not that big of a drain. The plot is meandering and kind of unfocused, but not distractingly so. 

BatmanTMNT - 8Mikey
The fight is entertainingly brutal and quick.

The art style is obviously subjective, but I didn’t like it. The turtles to me didn’t resemble any of their incarnations very well and Batman’s color scheme was closer to the one from Adam West than Tim Burton, which didn’t feel appropriate for a version with this much violence and death. Most of the villains, aside from Shredder, felt way too subdued until after *SPOILER* they get mutated. *END SPOILER*  It just never worked for me. 

Overall, though, it was a pretty fun movie that hit most of the notes that I would want for this kind of film.  If you like either of these franchises, this is a must-see. 

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

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The 5 Greatest Easter Episodes

Happy Easter, everyone! Eat some candy in the shape of a bunny or a chick, eat some jelly beans, paint some eggs, go to church for the first time since Christmas, and blow up a cart in front of the Duomo. In honor of this most oddly-celebrated of holidays, I present to you the 5 best TV Easter episodes of all time:

Runner up: The Turtles and the Hare (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle)

EasterTurtles

It’s Easter, and Krang and Shredder are trying to use their “Docilizer” ray to turn everyone as docile as rabbits (because they haven’t seen Watership Down). A Bunny-Suited Bebop and Rocksteady even manage to get April O’Neil just as she’s calling the Turtles for help. To counteract the ray, the Turtles need a crystal from a “fairy tale dimension.” When they go there, they encounter Hokum Hare, the rabbit from “The Tortoise and the Hare,” who they befriend and eventually drag back to Earth. Hokum helps defeat the evil plan, then acts as the “Easter Bunny” for the Channel 6 Easter Egg Hunt.

The biggest mistake in this episode is that they couldn’t get Usagi Yojimbo back to play the Easter Bunny. If you know who that is, you agree with me.

EasterTurtles2

5) It’s the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown!

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Okay, so, never let it be said the Linus Van Pelt (Stephen Shea) was a quitter. Despite the fact that he failed to find the Great Pumpkin, he believes that the Easter Beagle is going to take care of all of the Easter festivities. Meanwhile, the rest of the Peanuts gang tries to celebrate in all their usual ways. The highlight of the episode is Peppermint Patty (Linda Ercoll) trying to teach Marcie (Jimmy Ahrens) how to decorate eggs. Marcie’s complete lack of experience leads her to ruin so many of the eggs that eventually Patty is out of money, without a single egg done.

Meanwhile, Lucy (Melanie Kohn) tries to create a private egg hunt, but Snoopy (Bill Melendez) follows behind her and steals the eggs. On Easter, Snoopy runs through town as the “Easter Beagle,” distributing eggs to everyone. However, when he gets to Charlie Brown (Todd Barbee), he runs out. Embarrassed, Snoopy gives him the basket. Charlie Brown is the loser, after all.

It was a cute follow up to the Great Pumpkin, and Patty and Marcie are hilarious.

4) Little House: The Last Farewell

EasterLittleHouse

So, after 10 years of Little House on the Prairie, the show finally ended, but there were three TV Specials that came after. For reasons that will become obvious, this is the last one of those (though the Christmas one got delayed, so it aired after).

So, basically, it’s a few years after the end of the show, and Charles and Caroline Ingalls (Michael Landon and Karen Grassle) stay in the little house from the show while the Carters, who took over the house during the last season, are out of town.

However, a land tycoon has actually acquired the deed to the town of Walnut Grove where the show took place. The town tries to defeat the claim in court, but they lose. They try to force the tycoon to leave, but the tycoon is backed by the army (and, btw, he does actually own the land, the town was built illegally and adverse possession didn’t apply to the territories). So, Laura (Melissa Gilbert), encourages the town, on the last Sunday, Easter Sunday, to do the just thing.

So, the town celebrates Easter by dynamiting all of the buildings, ruining the property value before the tycoon gets there. And this was completely real, btw. Michael Landon was told that the studio had to return the property back to its original state, and this was his solution: Blow up the town they had built for the show. However, since the town is at Easter mass, the church was the only building left (aside from the Little House). I can only assume this was the best sermon ever.

3) The Easter Bunny is Coming to Town

EasterBunny

This is the second Rankin/Bass Easter Special after Here Comes Peter Cottontail, but I’m going with this one because it starts in the town of Kidville, which is a weird socialist dystopia populated entirely by orphans… because the next town over, called Town, won’t allow children. This is such a bizarre set-up that I can’t help but love it. The kids adopt a bunny named Sunny, who grows up trying to sell eggs.

When a bear keeps stealing them, the kids paint the eggs and Sunny tells the bear he’s selling colored stones as paperweights. The bear lets him through and Sunny distributes the eggs on Easter. The child king of the town declares him the “Easter Bunny,” but his aunt Lily, who actually runs the town, kicks Sunny out and outlaws eggs, making beans the only food. To get around this, Sunny brings the king Jelly Beans the next Easter, along with the eggs. However, the bear, thinking they’re colored stones, chucks the basket full of eggs, resulting in the Egg hunt being invented. The next year, when the aunt puts guards to stop Sunny from coming to town, Sunny covers himself in chocolate and Trojan Horses his way in. The next year, he just builds a train into the city, which renders all prior plans useless by comparison.

It’s a cute special that tries to explain why we have such a strange amalgam of Easter traditions in an interesting story. I refuse to apologize.

2) Simpsons Bible Stories (The Simpsons)

EasterSimpsons.jpg

On a hot Easter Sunday, Homer ticks off Reverend Lovejoy, leading him to just start reading the Bible. The Simpsons proceed to pass out during the sermon and dream of different bible tales.

First, Marge imagines herself as Eve to Homer’s Adam. Unlike the usual version, Adam eats the apple but frames Eve. Homer then tunnels her back into Eden using a Unicorn named Gary, who ends up dying. This Unicide leads God to kick them out.

Lisa imagines herself as the power behind Milhouse’s Moses. Lisa and Milhouse incite plagues against the Egyptians (which fail, because the Egyptians love eating frogs), until finally the pair lead the Hebrews to the Red Sea, which they drain by flushing a huge number of toilets. At the end, Milhouse asks Lisa what the future holds for the Jews. Rather than answering, Lisa tells them to find Manna.

Homer imagines himself as Solomon. Lenny and Carl bring a pie before him that both claim to own. Homer cuts it in half, then orders them killed so that he can eat the pie.

Bart envisions himself as David (who came before Solomon, for the record), who is dethroned by Goliath II, son of Goliath. David trains and kills Goliath II in combat, only to discover that Goliath II was a great ruler, much better than David. David is then arrested.

The Simpsons awaken to find that, due to them sleeping through church, they were not raptured and the apocalypse has come. Lisa begins to rise to heaven, but Homer pulls her back. The family then descends to hell, where Homer smells BBQ, as “Highway to Hell” plays.

1) Fantastic Easter Special (South Park)

EasterSouthPark.jpg

Stan Marsh is questioning all the goofy Easter traditions, but is told just to go with it. Unsatisfied, Stan starts investigating, and is followed by men in bunny suits. Eventually, he finds his dad, Randy, wearing bunny ears. Randy explains that he’s part of the “Hare Club for Men” who has been guarding the great secret of Easter since Jesus. However, the group is attacked by Catholic ninjas before they can explain, and Stan escapes with Snowball, a bunny.

Stan goes to Kyle for help, but, being Jewish, Kyle knows nothing of Easter. They then track down a professor of history who explains the secret: Peter, the Apostle and the First Pope, was a rabbit. That’s why the Pope has a mitre (to hide bunny ears). Snowball is the last descendent of Peter. The clues are contained within eggs (Easter Eggs) found in Da Vinci’s Last Supper.

Stan and Kyle go to the Vatican with Snowball, but Bill Donohue of the American Catholic League proceeds to double cross the Pope, who is merciful and reasonable, and orders all the Hare Club killed, because he’s Bill Donohue, and this is exactly what he would do. Jesus himself descends to tell Donohue that he is wrong, but Donohue says that the church knows better than Jesus, because he’s Bill Donohue, and this is exactly what he would do (and has, btw). Kyle and Jesus are locked away together, and Jesus begs Kyle to kill him so that he can go to heaven, resurrect outside of the cell, and deal with Donohue. Kyle agrees (after telling Jesus that Cartman can never know of this), and Jesus returns, killing Donohue with the Glaive from Krull (because why not?). Snowball is made Pope and, because he’s a rabbit, says nothing, which is the point. People should figure out what’s right on their own.

Honestly, I love this episode. I think it’s a great parody of the Da Vinci Code, of Easter Specials, and of Bill Donohue (who loved the episode because he gave the Church “some guts” by ordering mass murder). And the final message is actually pretty good.

Happy Easter and Happy Watching!

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