The fourth episode of Beware the Batman opens up with a very interesting assertion of superhero ethics. Just as Katana, Bruce Wayne’s chauffeur and bodyguard, is about to plunge her sword right into the face of a League of Assassins ninja, Batman intervenes, saying “once you cross that line, you can’t go back.” This is, of course, in stark contrast to the message in last summer’s Man of Steel, where Superman crosses the line and then apparently goes back in the very next scene. Apparently, Batman is the only superhero left that DC still feels comfortable with giving a moral backbone. “You always have a choice,” Batman tells Katana. I can’t wait for him to tell Superman that in the next movie, Superman versus Everybody: The Night of Dark Blackness or whatever they’re trying to call the damn thing.
Other than that, the rest of this episode is totally forgettable. In fact, I was forgetting it as I was watching it. Matthew Lillard guest stars as Dr. Jason Burr, a scientist who has created some kind of generic MacGuffin doohicky that all the ninjas are after. And MAN is he annoying. So yeah, the ninjas, who we later learn are part of the League of Assassins and are being commanded by Lady Shiva, are after Burr, and since he’s developing this new doohicky for Wayne Industries, Bruce takes him to Wayne Manor to be kept safe. As he suits up as Batman to search Burr’s lab and look for clues as to who’s after him, he entrusts Katana with Burr’s safety. Meanwhile, Shiva hands the task of finding Burr to Silver Monkey, a cool second-string bad guy that I remember from… I think a Robin comic somewhere? Like I said before, I really dig how this series looks into the villains who aren’t used enough, or at all, in Batman’s various adaptations, and tries to find a way to work them into the story.
Unfortunately, Silver Monkey doesn’t really have much of a presence in this episode at all. He only pops up for a few minutes and just kinda kicks things and stuff. He might as well be any other ninja on the show, just with a cooler costume. Whereas previous villains like Professor Pyg and Magpie really stole the show and proved to be very compelling characters in spite of their relative obscurity, Silver Monkey was just a guy in a mask. To be sure, I’m not really sure what kind of story you could really tell with this guy besides having him just be a ninja guy that kicks stuff, but I’m sure he could’ve at least felt more threatening than he did here.
Eventually Batman realizes that Silver Monkey has been sent to Wayne Manor to snatch up Burr, and has to outrace a bunch of ninjas and out-think his own home security system in order to get back to him. Meanwhile, Katana kicks all sorts of booty and keeps the ninjas at bay long enough for Batman to get there and save the day. This is when Silver Monkey recognizes Katana as a former colleague of his, one that isn’t supposed to still be alive. This part felt pretty intriguing, but it’s only brought up again later when Silver Monkey reports back to Shiva that his mission failed. I honestly do dig the Katana stuff, and it seems like it’s shaping up to be a pretty enjoyable subplot.
By the way, in this episode they finally start calling her Katana, or at least Lady Shiva does, so that’s why I’ve decided to refer to her using her superhero alter ego rather than Tatsu Yamashiro. Also, because I totally didn’t piece together that she was Katana until last week, so this is me kind of setting the record straight.
One thing that’s starting to bother me with this show, and I’m not sure if it’s specifically the show’s fault, is how dark the picture is. It was really made apparently in this episode when you have Katana, who’s dressed in all black and has long black hair, and Batman, whose costume is all black in the show, fighting a bunch of all-black ninjas in a series of dark rooms. I mean, sure, it’s Batman, I’m not looking for bright, flashy, tecnicolor vistas of pastel psychedelia. (I don’t even know what that means.) But I’m watching this on my computer, and I had the brightness on my screen turned up all the way, and I couldn’t make out a single thing I was seeing. So you have all these fight scenes in this episode, you have a conflict between the good guys and the bad guys that by it’s very nature has to be solved with ninja fighting and kicks to the face, and I couldn’t see a damn thing. Oh well.
To be sure, the other action stuff, particularly the motorcycle chase between Batman and the ninjas that ends with Batman hang-gliding down into Wayne Manor, dodging the manor’s air defenses while his computer talks him through it, worked really well. Gave Batman a very Tony Stark edge that we don’t see a lot of. Just a shame that the brightness of the image kept me from seeing a lot of it this time as well.
Aside from that, this episode just in general did nothing for me. Matthew Lillard’s character was more dopey and obnoxious than any character that’s been on this show before, and totally clashed with the tone of the episode. And I hated him so much that I really wouldn’t care if Batman couldn’t get back in time and the ninjas came and took him away. Worse yet, throughout the episode he kind of starts to develop a “thing” for Katana, which was also just painfully annoying. He essentially acts like a snivelling child the whole time, and Katana, being the hardcore ninja that she is, just rolls her eyes at it. But it keeps going, and I’m hoping we’re not supposed to think that these two are cute together, or take this as an “opposites attract” kind of thing. They’d be doing her a huge disservice if they write her into a relationship with Matthew Lillard.
So yeah, another episode of Beware the Batman that has fallen flat for me. If you recall, I wasn’t too big of a fan of the Anarky episode, “Tests.” Hopefully the series picks up though, especially with the Katana subplot really starting to take shape. I don’t want to not like a Batman show, you know? It’s just kinda happening that way.