Overview: Batman and the Mystery Inc. team up to take on the mystery of the Crimson Cloak.
Synopsis (spoilers ahead): The film opens at an abandoned theater with Mystery Inc. investigating a ghostly puppet master/puppet duo, with Scooby-Doo and Shaggy being chased by the monsters while Fred, Daphne and Velma set up a trap. The monsters attack early and as the puppet master and puppet approach the Scooby Gang, they are sent reeling as an exploding batarang is thrown at their feet and Batman drops in, telling them to leave solving mysteries to the professionals. Batman is soon taken out of the fight, and Mystery Inc. defeats the monsters, who are revealed to be Martian Manhunter and Detective Chimp in disguise. Batman tells them that the mystery was a test that they all passed and Mystery Inc. is invited to join the Mystery Analysts of Gotham (MAG). As they walk away a mysterious red cloaked figure looks on.
After the opening credits, the film moves to Batman, the Question, and Aquaman taking down the Riddler, Catwoman, and Killer Croc who are robbing a bank. The heroes take down the villains and then the Batman and the Question excuse themselves for a MAG meeting, to which Aquaman is not invited, much to his chagrin.
Mystery Inc. arrives at MAG’s secret headquarters and meets with Batman and the other members, The Question, Black Canary, Detective Chimp, Maritain Manhunter, and Plastic Man. The newest members are given access to the unsolved mystery files that each of the members keep, with Velma picking out the sole unsolved mystery that Batman keeps, which Batman quickly confiscates. The Mystery Inc. members start to complain when Aquaman enters though the ceiling, wearing a trench coat and fake mustache over his real mustache and declaring himself a detective. Aquaman is permitted to stay and the team gets an alert of a break in at a warehouse used to store dangerous scientific materials and go off to investigate.
When they arrive at the warehouse, Batman begins to hear an eerie voice calling his name. The group splits up and starts looking for clues. Velma and Detective Chimp find that four vials of a substance called isotope 29 have been stolen. Batman continues to hear the voice calling his name and as Batman orders everyone else out of the warehouse, the Red cloaked figure, which calls itself “the Crimson Cloak” appears from the floor and blames Batman for what it has become and states that he is back for revenge.
The Crimson Cloak attacks and proceeds to set the warehouse on fire, with the group narrowly escaping as the warehouse explodes. Mystery Inc. makes plans to meet Batman at a malt shop and as they wait for Batman to arrive they are questioned by Harvey Bullock, who believes that Mystery Inc. is responsible for the warehouse burglary after an anonymous source sends a photo of the Mystery Machine leaving the scene. Batman arrives and interrupts Bullock’s questions and the police storm off. Batman sits down and proceeds to pull out his unsolved mystery file.
The film then flashes back to Batman’s first year on the job, when he infiltrated a secret lab run by the villain Professor Milo who was conducting a teleportation experiment. Batman takes down Milo, but his henchmen get pulled towards the portal. Batman manages to pull one of the Henchman free, but the other, Dr. Leo Scarlett, gets pulled into the portal and disappears, with Batman blaming himself.
Mystery Inc. agrees to help Batman get to the bottom of the identity of the Crimson Cloak, mentioning that Scarlett’s father was also a famous scientist and with Daphne figuring out that the other henchman that Batman saved was actually Edward Nygma; The Riddler. Batman and the Scooby Gang travel to Arkham Asylum to question the Riddler. Riddler has little answers for Batman, and mocks Batman’s failure to save Scarlett’s life but does reveal that Scarlett’s only remains, the torn sleeve of his lab coat, is buried on the asylum grounds at Arkham Cemetery.
Meanwhile, Scooby and Shaggy, having run away from the Riddler in a panic, find themselves in the Arkham Cafeteria. Batman and the rest of the gang go looking for them and get attacked by the Crimson Cloak, who then disappears as the power goes out, freeing all the inmates from their cells. The gang makes a run for it as Batman fights his way through the inmates. Scooby and Shaggy run across Harley Quinn, Poison Ivy, Two-Face and several other villains. Scooby and Shaggy are saved as a food fight breaks out amongst the inmates, literally eating their way out of the fight, and then running into the rest of the group, who manage to escape and seal the inmates inside.
The group manages to find there way to the graveyard and locate Scarlett’s grave and find a muddy footprint. They then make there way back to the Mystery Machine where they find Bullock searching the van. The rest of MAG arrives, with Bullock accusing Batman and Mystery Inc of the theft at the warehouse along with freeing the asylum inmates. A search of the Mystery Machine reveals an empty Isotope 29 vial. Bullock and the rest of MAG attempt to hold Batman and Mystery Inc for questioning, with Batman throwing a smoke bomb as he and the Scooby Gang, after a brief pursuit, make their escape to an area of Gotham known as No Man’s Land. The group have quick run in with Bane and Solomon Grundy and then are chased by the Joker and Penguin along with others through the streets of Gotham, escaping via the Batmobile.
Batman takes the gang back to the Batcave where they proceed to admire a display of Batman’s former sidekick’s costumes. A news report flashes showing Shaggy on security footage stealing scientific equipment. Batman heads off to the site of Milo’s lab, leaving the Scooby Gang in the Batcave, with Velma tasked to analyse the muddy footprint.
Batman runs into Aquaman and Question at Milo’s lab and discover that Crimson Cloak has rebuilt Milo’s teleportation machine as the Crimson Cloak appears. Batman speaks with the Crimson Cloak, believing him to be Scarlett’s father out for revenge. The Crimson Cloak captures both Batman and Aquaman and buries the Question in rubble.
Back at the Batcave, Velma analyses the muddy print as the mud begins to move and attacks them. Meanwhile Batman and Aquaman are suspended over the teleportation machine, as the Crimson Cloak activates the machine and then begins to convulse and loose his shape. Back in the Batcave, the gang is trapped by the mud monster and after a distraction by Scooby and Shaggy is neutralized using the Batcave’s dehydrator. The Scooby Gang figure out which of Batman’s villains is responsible but fail to contact Batman, discovering he has been captured.
The Crimson Cloak activates the machine and continues to lose his shape, and is interrupted by the Scooby Gang, who have donned the costumes in the Batcave display cases, with Fred wearing Batman’s original outfit, Daphne dressed as Batgirl, Velma as Robin, Shaggy as Nightwing, and Scooby Doo as Ace the Bathound. The Crimson Cloak turns himself into various Batvillains and chase after the Gang, who outwit the Crimson Cloak’s creations and then the gang uses the Bathydrator to turn the Crimson Cloak into Dust.
The police arrive and the Crimson Cloak is revealed to be Clayface who admits he was hired by the Riddler to build the machine and frame them for his crimes. Riddler is found to have escaped from Arkham and to have been posing as the Question, having switched places with him in the fight at the bank at the beginning of the movie.
The Riddler manages to escape and activates the teleportation machine, only to be sucker punched by the Question. The teleportation machine begins to overload and as Batman prepares to destroy it, he hears the same voice that he keeps hearing. The heroes manage to reverse the machine and Batman heads into the portal and rescues the trapped Leo Scarlett from inside with a hand from Scooby Doo.
The story ends with Batman’s unsolved case closed and Batman tossing a Scooby Snack in the air as he swings away.
Analysis: After the opening sequence, the opening credits are a clever mash-up of both cartoons, which essentially sums up the movie. The film takes Scooby and the Gang and brings them into the world of the Brave and the Bold, and incorporates them pretty seamlessly. It’s far from a new idea, Batman and Scooby-Doo have been meeting since the 1970’s, but the idea to pair them through the lens of the Brave and the Bold is where this version really succeeds. If they had tried to fit Scooby-Doo into the world of Batman: The Animated Series, for instance, or even a more kid friendly show like The Batman, it would not be such a natural fit and would require changes and tweaks to both properties. As it stands, in a version of Batman’s world where he routinely joins forces with characters such as Detective Chimp, the filmmakers are able to drop in Scooby-Doo as is into Gotham without missing a beat.
While the film is very heavily set in Batman’s world, the trick to Scooby-Doo is that its all about hitting specific story beats. There isn’t a rogues gallery of Scooby-Doo’s reoccurring villains and Mystery Inc travels around without a specific home base or cast of supporting characters except for the occasional Scrappy-Doo visit. The film essentially takes Batman: The Brave and the Bold and walks Batman, paired with Mystery Inc, through an episode of Scooby-Doo. There’s a mysterious supernatural threat. The team heads to various locations, splitting up to look for clothes. They get chased, occasionally Benny Hill Style and stop occasionally for snacks. And the threat gets trapped and unmasked. Batman is present through all of this, but never stops acting like Batman. While the Scooby Gang are running for the inmates at the Asylum, Batman is taking them out one by one. When Scooby and Shaggy stymy Bane with a tailgating ploy, Batman is the first to point out how ridiculous it was. Both sets of characters make it through this movie still feeling true to their cores, which is what makes this film so successful.
On the Batman side of things, this film has the same reverence for the history of the character that makes the Brave and the Bold such a joy to watch. Batman’s flashback to his early days features his original purple gloved costume. Obscure villains like Prof Milo and major storylines such as No Mans Land get shout outs throughout the film. There’s even a quick and surprisingly dark for this movie Death in the Family reference. The film also juggles the large cast well, giving the supporting players from the Brave and the Bold world moments to shine while keeping the story moving. I do find that Aquaman in particular has absolutely no reason to be in this movie, but given how much I enjoy that version of the character, I can understand the impulse to bring him along for the ride.
From a story perspective, I did find the inclusion of Clayface in this film to not be set up terribly well. While I can understand the filmmakers trying to preserve the mystery, the character shows up essentially out of nowhere and the story should have done something to introduce Clayface in some minor way at the beginning of the story.
Final Thoughts: This movie is definitely geared more to kids than what Warner Bros. Animation usually goes for with their Batman releases, and as such, it would have been easy to just throw Batman into a Scooby-Doo adventure and make a quick buck. Instead, the filmmakers opted to make a 75 minute episode of Batman: The Brave and the Bold, and the result, as Aquaman would say… is outrageous. Check out the trailer below:
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