Batman: Soul of the Dragon (2021)

batman soul of the dragon poster 2021 movie
7.5 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 7/10
Visuals: 7/10

Decent Elseworlds story

Doesn't push the 1970s vibe far enough visually

Movie Info

Movie Name: Batman:  Soul of the Dragon

Studio: Warner Bros. Animation

Genre(s): Animated/Comic Book/Action/Adventure/Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Martial Arts

Release Date(s): January 12, 2021

MPAA Rating: R

batman soul of the dragon team

Go Batman Team-Ninja!!!

Bruce Wayne has joined Shiva, Jade, Ben Turner, Rip Jagger, and Richard Dragon in Nanda Parbat to train with O-Sensei.  O-Sensei’s training is both of the body and the soul, but Nanda Parbat also houses a dangerous secret.  Years later, that secret once again threatens the world and Richard Dragon has set out to reach out to his former fellow students.  Bruce, Shiva, and Ben, and Richard could be the only hope the world has…but even working as a team might not be enough.

Directed by Sam Liu, Batman:  Soul of the Dragon is a DC Comics animated Elseworlds film.  Following the DC Comics movie Superman:  Man of Tomorrow in 2020, the film was released digitally on January 12, 2021 with a physical release following on January 26, 2021.

batman soul of the dragon snake man schlangenfaust

Snake arms…ok. Snake fingers on snake hands? That’s just overkill, guy

One of the more interesting aspects of comic books is their longevity and the fact that the same characters exist through different historical times and backgrounds.  In the 1970s comics went horror, martial arts, and Blaxploitation to keep up with trends in films.  Batman:  Soul of the Dragon mixes aspects of all of these genres to tell a story that is different and unique.

The movie is primarily a martial arts movie set in the 1970s.  Though “Batman” is the flagship title character, the movie largely feels like a Richard Dragon movie.  Though I like Richard Dragon, he probably wouldn’t bring in the audience that would be necessarily to make the movie a success so Batman gets a lot of the credit while playing a relatively small role in the grand picture.  With the genre as such a big part of the film, it feels less like a traditional comic book movie even though the story has very comic book elements.

In addition to the martial arts, there is a Blaxploitation theme both in the style of music and the Ben Turner (aka Bronze Tiger) character who appears very much like Jim Kelly’s character from Enter the Dragon more than the character from the comic.  It is also ironic that Ben is played by Michael Jai White who previously portrayed him on Arrow and also parodied the genre in Black Dynamite.

batman soul of the dragon richard vs naga

Battle of the spirit animals!

Where the movie doesn’t go far enough is with the visuals.  With a kicking ’70s soundtrack, I had hoped that the movie would take visual cues from older martial arts films.  The movie is slick and clean, but it is too clean.  A stylized “rough cut” version of the film that is choppy and dirty would have sealed the deal on the genre look and storytelling.

Batman:  Soul of the Dragon continues to show what comic books can do with animated films.  Unlike the big screen counterparts, it feels like more risks can be taken and more stylized and specific stories can be told without the fear of completely alienating viewers from a “franchise” mentality.  Batman:  Soul of the Dragon is a good film, but if it had turned out poorly, there isn’t as much damage control that is needed to “correct” the next film so it gives filmmakers more freedom to experiment.  Batman:  Soul of the Dragon is followed by Justice Society:  World War II also in 2021.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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