Superhero Sundays: Batman Unlimited: Mechs vs Mutants
Matthew Turner | On 26, Sep 2021
Director: Curt Geda
Cast: Roger Craig Smith, Oded Fehr, Lucien Dodge, Chris Diamantopoulos, Dana Snyder, Laura Bailey, John DiMaggio, Will Friedle, Phil LaMarr, Alastair Duncan, Troy Baker, Charlie Schlatter
Where to watch Batman Unlimited: Mechs Vs Mutants online in the UK: Sky Cinema / NOW / Apple TV (iTunes) / Prime Video (Buy/Rent) / Rakuten TV / Google Play / Sky Store
On Sunday mornings, we like to watch cartoons. So we’re working our way through animated superhero cartoons. We call it Superhero Sundays.
Batman Unlimited: Mechs vs Mutants (2016) was the third in a series of three animated Batman movies (following Animal Instincts and Monster Mayhem) based on a line of action figure toys made by Mattel. With that in mind, the Unlimited movies are significantly less dark than some of the other Bat-properties, but they still deliver plenty of fun comic-book action.
The film opens with a prologue that effectively teases what this movie really is, a thinly-veiled version of Godzilla vs Mecha-Batman, with Killer Croc as Godzilla and Batman in a giant robot suit. We then flash back two weeks to fill in some plot before the Gotham-stomping action starts.
To be fair, there isn’t really all that much plot. Exiled in the Arctic with Mr Freeze (Oded Fehr), The Penguin (Dana Snyder) devises a fiendish plan once he learns that Freeze has a serum that can turn bugs into giant creatures. Returning to Gotham, he breaks Clayface, Bane, Chemo and Killer Croc out of Arkham Asylum (leaving an annoyed Joker behind) and then uses the serum to turn them into giant versions of themselves. Meanwhile, Freeze sets about freezing Gotham so he can return to the city without the need of his cold suit.
When a giant, very Godzilla-like Killer Croc starts trashing Gotham (“Let’s cause some chaos!”), it’s up to Batman (Roger Craig Smith), the new Robin (Lucien Dodge) and a selection of super-friends – namely The Flash (Charlie Schlatter), Green Arrow (Chris Diamantopoulos) and Nightwing (Will Friedle) – to save the day. Luckily, Batman and Green Arrow have both commissioned giant robot mech suits for just such an occasion. (“You think you’re the only billionaire in the world?” quips Green Arrow).
The animation is colourful and appealing, although the giant insignia on Batman’s chest (dictated by the toy designs) takes a bit of getting used to. There are a handful of nice touches scattered throughout too, such as a couple of specific homages to giant monster movies such as Godzilla and Mothra (people being blown down the street).
Director Curt Geda delivers plenty of action and it’s clear that a degree of thought has gone into the logistics of fighting in a giant mech suit. One particular highlight involves Batman’s robot arm malfunctioning, resulting in him hitting Chemo with it and then stealing Green Arrow’s robot arm to replace it.
Given that the film has some toys to sell, it’s not surprising that the action finds room for so many Bat-vehicles, with the Batmobile, Bat-bike and Bat-plane all making appearances. Indeed, the Batmobile actually turns into the Bat-plane at one point, a fun comics moment that doesn’t often happen in the Bat-movies, even the animated ones.
Considering the film’s target audience of toy-buying children, it’s a relief that the humour doesn’t pander too much. As a result there are a number of good lines (Green Arrow has an entire quiver full of quips) and even The Penguin’s “henchbird” Buzz refrains from any over-the-top comedy mugging or reaction shots.
Speaking of humour, it might just be a throwaway line, but a gag about “costumes” (civilian gear) and “work uniforms” (superhero costumes) actually says a surprising amount about Batman’s psychology. It’s followed by a similar moment when Damian sees Bruce Wayne laughing at a party and can’t quite believe it.
One consequence of the more kid-friendly Unlimited scripts is that Robin – Damian Wayne – doesn’t have the same arrogant attitude that he does in the New 52 movies. However, he does have a surprisingly moving character arc, whereby he proves himself to Batman after a spectacular recent fail, resulting in manly praise from the Caped Crusader that might just bring a tear to your eye if it catches you at a vulnerable moment.
The voicework is decent, with Oded Fehr proving a great choice for Mr Freeze, investing him with pathos and sensitivity. Also of note is Charlie Schlatter’s interpretation of The Flash – herel he’s needy and annoying to his fellow superheroes, which is ostensibly played for laughs, but achieves an odd sadness instead. If there’s a slip-up, it’s only that Chemo makes a poor choice of final villain, because he’s a character without a voice.
In short, this is an entertaining superhero adventure that delivers nicely on its premise and has some cheeky Godzilla-style fun in the process. (Side note – if you’re a fan of the Unlimited Movies, you might also want to check out the two-season web series on the DC Kids YouTube channel.)
Batman Unlimited: Mechs vs Mutants is available on Sky Cinema. Don’t have Sky? You can also stream it on NOW, as part of an £11.99 NOW Cinema Membership subscription. For the latest Sky TV packages and prices, click the button below.