Looking into 2018, I had hopes. Dreams. Aspirations. Anticipations. But one thing I never anticipated was enjoying a Scooby-Doo/Batman crossover as much as I did.
Scooby-Doo & Batman: The Brave and the Bold (2018) is a direct-to-video DC animated film directed by Jake Castorena. Its stars Diedrich Bader as Batman/Bruce Wayne as he recruits Mystery Inc. into the ‘Mystery Analysts of Gotham’ just in time to help solve Batman’s only unfinished case file.
Anyone familiar with The Brave and the Bold animated series knows to expect a loving send-up of silver age camp and silliness wrapped up in an incredibly self-aware package. This makes Scooby-Doo & Batman essentially a longer episode of BATB with some befitting guest stars – and I am completely OK with that. As a big fan of the series myself, just having more BATB is a blessing – but to have it be this entertaining is just further icing on the cake.
For starters, Scooby-Doo’s style of zaniness fits into BATB seamlessly. Even the animation is almost indistinguishable from one another and the familiar formula of the usual Scooby-Doo mystery is lovingly made fun of by BATB‘s meta sensibilities. It also helps that the mystery is actually amusingly engaging. While the plot is bolstered by a little too much filler, the story is a fun twist on the usual Mystery Inc. going-ons and gets to use all of the fan favourite characters from BATB in a series of events that feels authentically like the show without losing its Scooby-Doo influence.
However, the real treat of Scooby-Doo & Batman is that its genuinely hilarious. This is a wonderful ride of inside jokes, hilarious meta-moments and an all around sense of glee. The camp doesn’t always work, and of course it can be a bit of an acquired taste, but for the most part it lovingly recreates the ’66 Batman series’ tone with modern sensibilities and meta commentaries thrown in. Its as entertaining as the best episodes of BATB (seen every episode, can confirm) and after that show ended this is a solid reminder about how wonderful a loving homage it was.
Performance-wise there won’t be any big surprises for Scooby-Doo or BATB fans. Bader is as perfect a silver age Batman you could find, absolutely nailing the over-the-top self-serious delivery he requires. John DiMaggio’s Aquaman steals every scene he’s in as usual, with an Inspector Clouseau impersonation and a surprisingly off-colour gag being particular standouts. As for Mystery Inc. they boast all their usual voices and so all fit the characters as perfectly as they can. One thing worth pointing out though is the movie makes a conscious effort to make Daphne actually useful. A long-running gag that she provides nothing more than a kidnappee to the team is upended here in an amusing and almost certainly intentional effort by the writers.
The biggest surprise of 2018 thus far, Scooby-Doo & Batman is a wonderfully joyful send-up of Batman, Scooby-Doo and team-ups. Some filler and poor jokes aside this is a delightful experience for BATB fans, and an all-around entertaining movie for everyone else. Scooby-dooby-woo.
General Audiences: Highly Recommended
True Believers (The Brave and the Bold): Highly Recommended