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Review: ‘Merry Little Batman’ is a Festive Way to Celebrate the World of DC

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Happy holidays readers! There’s just something magical about this time of year, as the stockings are hung and snow gently falls from the sky. I know in the Kitson household, we’re looking forward to all the comforts and cheer that spending time with family brings. One of our favorite Christmas activities is to snuggle in a warm living room with a nice cup of hot chocolate and a holiday film on the television. Whether it be a favorite or something new, Christmas movies help ring in the holiday season with tons of joy and merriment. If you’re a comic book fanatic on top of a holiday lover like myself, Prime Video has a new DC offering perfect for the season, Merry Little Batman!

This 90-ish minute animated film is perfect for all ages, with the right blend of comic fan-fare and holiday cheer. Merry Little Batman features a unique story by Morgan Evans, Jase Ricci, and Etan Cohen, about heroism, family, and what the holiday means to everyone. It’s directed by Mike Roth, who was a writer for Regular Show, Phineas and Ferb, and The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack. This Damian Wayne-centric story features the voices of Luke Wilson, Yonas Kibreab, James Cromwell, and David Hornsby. So, should Merry Little Batman be on your Christmas list?

[Warning: Spoilers from Prime Video’s Merry Little Batman are below!]

Damian Wayne just wants to be like his Bat-dad

It’s somehow surprising how much becoming a parent can change someone, and Bruce Wayne (Luke Wilson) is no exception. Gone are the nights living in shadow as The Dark Knight because Bruce’s greatest mission now is making sure his son Damian (Yonas Kibreab) grows up happy and healthy in a Gotham that is rid of any villainy. However, Damian wants nothing more than to be a superhero, just like his father. Both of their desires put them at odds with each other, as Bruce refuses to bend, and Damian won’t ever give up becoming a hero in his own right.

Prime Video's Merry Little Batman- Damian Wayne
Damian Wayne (Yonas Kibreab). Merry Little Batman (Prime Video).

Damian needs to find the perfect opportunity to prove himself to his dad, which falls into his lap when Batman is called away for Justice League duties. But when the Bat-dad’s away, Damian will play! Crime reappears in the streets of Gotham just in time for Christmas, and The Joker (David Hornsby) is back to his nefarious schemes. Can Damian save the day? As well, can he get his utility belt back from those who stole it? There are definitely a few Grinch hanging around Gotham, but with Damian on the case, Christmas should be all but saved!

Sounds like Damian has his hands full, especially on Christmas Eve. The clock is ticking to set things right, prove himself to his father, and return home before Alfred (James Cromwell) notices he’s even missing. A challenge that only gets harder as other rogues, such as Mr. Freeze (Dolph Adomian), The Penguin (Brian George), and Poison Ivy (Theresa McLaughlin), come out of the woods and back into the mix. Tune in to Prime Video’s Merry Little Batman to see if and how Damian can save Gotham just in time for the holiday!

The positives and negatives of Merry Little Batman

On paper, this film may sound odd. An animated Batman Christmas film. I was skeptical at first myself,  as I tend to think of Batman as a dark and gritty superhero who fights crime in the seedy underbelly of Gotham. However, Merry Little Batman is as far from that mental image as possible and so much better for it. Christmas programs are done best when they are light and fun and Merry Little Batman is exactly that. 

It’s a movie that’s aimed at a younger audience, think 7-12 year-olds and you have the targeted age bracket. So the humor and the story are skewed for a younger crowd, which leans well toward Christmas films. At least in my opinion, they do. The holiday is a time for family fun with as little stress as possible. We don’t need or even want over-complicated films and television shows. We want simple and enjoyable.

Merry Little Batman provides people of all ages with so much enjoyment, with a bit of something for everyone. I had the pleasure of watching it in a crowded theater filled with critics and fans, and the reactions they had were electric. The rousing laughter that connected with jokes, the oh’s and ah’s that people made at different points. It’s the same energy I would expect watching this film in a living room with all three of my nephews. Sure, some of the jokes are a little corny, but as an adult, I shook my head a smidge and laughed along with everyone else.

Prime Video's Merry Little Batman-Bruce Wayne/Batman
Bruce Wayne (Luke Wilson). Merry Little Batman (Prime Video).

The voice casting in Merry Little Batman is stellar. Would I have ever thought of Luke Wilson in the role of Batman before this? No. I still think of him as Pat Dugan on Stargirl, which is a role that is nothing like Bruce Wayne from the comics. However, this Bruce is different. He’s a hard-working father, who is both wonderfully caring and also incredibly overbearing. He worries so much about the safety of Damian, which has dictated a lot of his decisions and motivations up to this point. This Bruce is anxiety-ridden, even through his heroics.

The heart of the film is Damian Wayne, and that’s because of the energy that Yonas Kibreab brings to the role. Kirbreab has the perfect voice and the right choice for the bit-sized hero. There’s a mischievously angelic quality that the actor adds to the role. Gone are the sharp edges of the Damian from the comics. In Merry Little Batman, he’s just a young child who aspires to be a great man like his father. Throughout the film, Damian comes to learn what being a hero actually means and that it doesn’t require a cape to be one. Instead, he learns that true heroism is being kind in the face of adversity, even when it seems impossible to do so.

I also loved David Hornsby’s Joker, with this rendition of the character being one of my favorites. This Joker was reminiscent of Mark Hamill’s, but just a bit more silly. Again, you can tell that this is a younger-skewed show, which fully embraces the silliness and absurdity of comics. In that regard, The Joker fits in perfectly, as he is over the top in every sense of the word. I hope to see more of Hornsby in this role because it seems like he has the absolute most fun being the Clown Prince of Crime!

The animation style of Merry Little Batman is strikingly different from other animated Batman series. It reminds me a lot of The Powerpuff Girls, with its sharp angles and unpolished background pieces. Similar in some aspects to the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film, which I haven’t seen because the animation style threw me off from the trailer alone.

That being said, after an initial adjustment period early in Merry Little Batman, the crude style didn’t phase me. It enhances the story interestingly. The world of Gotham doesn’t feel gritty storywise, but the art style builds up a bit of that grittiness. It allows viewers to see that it is indeed the same Gotham, even if it no longer sounds like the hellhole from the comics.

Final thoughts on Prime Video’s Merry Little Batman

This might sound like an exaggeration, but I think that this animated DC film might be one of my favorite Christmas movies to date. Its plot reuses many old holiday movie tropes, such as one section playing off the Home Alone idea, however, they don’t feel tiresome or burdened. Instead, it feels like small callbacks to yesteryears, something that I’m appreciative of more so at Christmas than any other part of the year. It feels comforting, even though it’s a new film I hadn’t seen before.

Prime Video has something special on their hands with Merry Little Batman, and I hope that this is just the beginning of a wider world of DC films on the streaming service done in this style.

Merry Little Batman arrives on Prime Video on December 8! Let us know on social media @mycosmiccircus or in The Cosmic Circus Discord if you plan on checking out this new DC Christmas film!

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Brian Kitson

Working hard to bring you the latest news and thoughtful analysis of all things nerdy!

Brian Kitson has 362 posts and counting. See all posts by Brian Kitson