The Total Geek Live crew has been looking forward to this new animated team-up, so when Scooby-Doo & Batman: The Brave and the Bold dropped to video, I was ready to pop it in my DVD (yes, DVD only) player. Was it worth the wait?
Back in the 1970’s, The New Scooby-Doo Movies had Batman and Robin drop in from time to time (when Mama Cass and the Harlem Globetrotters were too busy for that week) to help solve crimes with the Mystery Inc. gang. They were cheesy, chock full of animation errors, and had a forced laugh track, but Batman and Scooby-Doo! Together!
Decades later, Batman and Scooby are still putting out animated series, and each franchise got one of their best offerings years back. Scooby Doo got Mystery Inc., which basically took all the things fans loved about Fred, Velma, and the gang, and gave them character growth, and an overreaching story arc. In contrast, Batman got The Brave and the Bold, which basically took all the things fans loved about Batman (and the DC Universe as a whole), and gave Batman weekly team-ups with other heroes in strange and often meta whimsical adventures. Both series are fantastic and worth a watch.
In this film, Batman is set well into his Brave and the Bold persona, while the Mystery Inc. kids look more like their original version (thankfully not those awful character designs in their most recent series). While they aren’t necessarily the Mystery Inc. version, they took some pretty heavy notes to keep them close enough regardless.
This film finds those “meddling kids” unknowingly being tested by Batman for a membership offering into the “Mystery Analysts of Gotham”, a group of Batman’s more brainy and less punchy crime-fighting partners (much to Aquaman’s dismay). As new members, the kids get to choose the next case for the group to solve, and that case is the one mystery that Batman was never able to solve.
When watching Scooby-Doo & Batman: The Brave and the Bold, this show could be either series at any time, and that’s a really impressive feat. The two art designs blend seamlessly, the character interactions and behaviors never stray for a moment from either show, and while you get the laughs and mystery from Scooby-Doo, you also… get the laughs and mystery from Brave and the Bold. Just with a little more action and more dangerous bad guys.
Scooby and the gang meet the majority of The Brave and the Bold‘s cast, with a ton of fun moments (my God, I love this version of the “outrageous” bravado-spewing Aquaman), Shaggy and Scooby let their stomachs lead them into trouble, Batman struggles with his personal sense of failure, and everything just works. And there are some genuine laughs throughout this film, and one gasp over a darker piece of Batman lore that they referenced.
Scooby-Doo & Batman: The Brave and the Bold reminded me how much I missed this show. Batman is overly heroic, but is never played for a fool. The Mystery Inc. kids are resourceful and competent (Daphne doesn’t always fall into trouble these days and helps to solve more tricky clues – A relief of character growth over the years), and there are tons of nods and Easter Eggs for fans of both series.
As a review recommendation, I have to give it to DC. Whereas they still struggle with their live-action films, their animated fare (outside one or two flubs) are always consistently well done and entertaining. And I’m pleased to see that DC still honors all of their various incarnations of Batman, from the goofy and light-hearted, to the dark and brooding.
I hope DC Animation cuts loose and considers other options with potential Hanna Barbera properties. I wouldn’t mind seeing Booster Gold and the Flintstones adapted into a time-traveling adventure.