Review Rating: 7 out of 10
Spoilers live in the Green!
To stop Poison Ivy and this gnarly dude called Floronic Man, Batman and Nightwing team up with Harley Quinn!
We’re used to the Batman-verse having a large and diverse cast of characters, both heroic and villainous, to pick our favorite pleasures and poisons from. Batman (Kevin Conroy), Nightwing, Harley Quinn (Melissa Rauch) and Poison Ivy are all very familiar at this point, so the introduction of Floronic Man, also known as Jason Woodrue, is a bit of a curveball. Woodrue actually has a long history in the wider DC-verse, but he’s not well known to me as yet. Woodrue actually serves as a stepping-stone character to bring in the other major DC character, Swamp Thing. But we’ll get back to that in a jiffy.
So Ivy (Paget Brewster) and Woodrue (Kevin Michael Richardson) have this wild plan to basically turn everyone in the world into, say it with me, plant people. Ivy hates people and loves her plants, so it does make nefarious sense, I guess. Floronic Man has a ton of his own personal reasons for wanting to make plant people, as it turns out, but the movie doesn’t really go into them (go here if you want to know). And one of the most effective ways to do this, according to A.R.G.U.S. when Bats and Nightwing (Loren Lester) ask them, is to involve this gonzo creature called Swamp Thing.
Soooo, Bats reluctantly decides the best, not the easiest mind you, way to find Ivy would be to track down her old partner in the sisterhood crime syndicate who just recently got paroled, everyone’s favorite former-psychiatrist-turned-psychopath, Harley Quinn! Obviously, she’s less than thrilled to have Nightwing show up at her rather ironic waitressing job, and makes her own reluctance to help the Bat family track down her old friend quite clear. However, dear little Harley has never been one for inhibitions and is quite cheerfully open to bribery of the fleshy kind, so yes folks, Harley bopped Nightwing and I don’t mean with a hammer!
Batman is less than impressed to find Nightwing in such a compromising position, not that he has any room to talk coughCatwomanTaliaalGhulcough, but the unlikely trio take off for Bludhaven, for Harley to do her own personal musical number in order to get the information she needs. She sings “Hangin on the Telephone” by the Nerves, and it’s a nice little throwback tribute to the episode ‘Harlequinade’ from that beloved classic show, Batman The Animated Series, the show in which Harley was originally introduced to the DC world. Harley slays the whole house, and her contact instructs her to head for Slaughter Swamp.
Inevitably, Ivy and Woodrue are astonished and angered to find their adversaries there, and no now-useless scientist human shield is going to get in their way. But the poor dying dude can tell our giddy trio where the planter people are headed next: Louisiana. Because of coursethose infamous swamps are where the proper chemicals to do this are.
So it’s off to the swamps of Louisiana, and yes, Harley’s along for the ride, whether she or Daddy Bat likes it, or not. Where it turns out, Ivy’s notion of sisterhood and love for Harley actually does outweigh her annoyance with humans in general, so we just have Woodrue left to deal with. And while he might actually be willing to go ahead and destroy the whole world, there’s this scary green dude-thing that just came out of the swamp to warm him off. Sort of.
See, there’s this whole other supernatural portion of DC that not too many of us are familiar enough with yet, and this includes Swamp Thing. The Green, which is the elemental community-like structure that connects all plant life on Earth, has a very long history with Swamp Thing (John DiMaggio), but basically by now he’s been declared the avatar and protector of the Green itself. So it makes sense when Swamp Thing climbs out of the muck to confront Woodrue, but the confrontation itself is kind of weird: Swamp Thing tells Woodrue that his concoction would threaten the Green itself, but that he, Swamp Thing, would not interfere with whatever Woodrue ultimately decides to do. I guess this is the last chance for Woodrue to not necessarily become a hero, but at the very least, to finally do the right thing. He better hurry up before Harley lights that match!
Bats and Nightwing are more or less exactly as they always are, trading wisecracks off each-other and being all dark and badass, and Poison Ivy looks and acts pretty much the same too. But it’s Harley we’re really here for, she’s in the title after all, and so it’s her we’re gonna squee over! Mostly. Rauch has this odd accent that came and went for Harley, and for me, she couldn’t get the infamous giggle quite right either. This version of the Harley character, who runs around shakin her T&A to get what she wants and isn’t above using tears to accomplish a task, is mildly different from the others (including the film version from Suicide Squad), but still I think closest to the original BTAS character we all fell in love with so long ago. And this new movie, with our psycho-betty clown, bat-family-fellas, and even a swamp creature, is the perfect little romp to enjoy for Halloween!
Go trolling in the Green with Batman and Harley Quinn, out on DVD and Blu-ray now, and on HBO Max now!