Batman and Harley Quinn

This movie is Swamp Thing Easter egg heaven! I was so excited by all the references that I’ve rewatched the move twice already. To top it off, my other two favorite characters, Poison Ivy and Floronic Man are the featured villains! My blinders were on for this one. It would take a whole lot for me to dislike the movie.
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Critics and fans will no doubt be miffed by aspects of this film. Zany and unorthodox are descriptors that popped in my head as I watched. It’s surprisingly sexual, violent, funny, and the language -I’d consider to be- for adults. The movie is filled with goofy, whimsical non-sequiturs that feel surreal at times, like something out of Twin Peaks. For these reasons, and so much more, is why I enjoyed this movie so much. Bruce Timm and the creative team present a fun adventure surround by beautiful animation and fun characters. It isn’t quite the world we know from the Batman animated series, but it’s familiar enough that it feels like home.

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The intro sequence is really fun. It was animated by Nate Theis, a college classmate of mine.

The skinny: Poison Ivy and Jason Woodrue have teamed up to save the earth. Their dangerous and unorthodox plan involves synthesizing Alec Holland’s bio-restorative formula and unleashing it upon earth. But first, they’ll need to find the formula. As Jason Woodrue and Pamela Isley leave a wake of destruction, Batman and Nightwing join the case. The two crime fighters need help tracking down Ivy, and no one knows Ivy better than Harley Quinn!

The movie opens at S.T.A.R. Labs. Woodrue wastes no time in killing the security guards while Ivy scours the Lab’s database for information on Holland’s groundbreaking work in the field of Biology.

Within minutes of the film starting, Alec Holland is revealed! S.T.A.R. Labs has the lowdown on Alec and Linda. The case files are retrieved by Ivy and later explained by Batman at the scene of the crime.
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Warning: Spoilers Ahead

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To help expedite their nifarious plan, Ivy and Woodrue kidnapped Dr Goldblum to take care of the science side of things. Seems like an odd choice, since Floronic Man and Ivy are scientists as well. Who knows; villains like to kidnap and an extra set of scientist hands can’t hurt.
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The characters in the movie are pretty consistent with what we’ve come to expect in the animated universe, with the exception of Jason Woodrue. To be fare, not much should be expected, seeing that this is his first movie appearance. Although, both comics and movie Woodrues share the same motivation, this animated version is confident and hulking. Traditionally, Floronic Man is depicted as a wild-eyed, weaselly, mad scientist who’s hellbent on being accepted by The Green, and/or trying to turn himself into a plant god. Seeing a wacky, wildcard like Woodrue from the comics would have made for a crazier story but I wonder if he would seem too distracting (since Harley is the zany one) and appear too meak for the likes of Batman, Harley and Nightwing.

A couple other continuity items worth noting: Woodrue and Ivy team up in this movie but in the comics they are less likely to do so. Their run-ins are usually marked by double crossing and diception; greed, power and plants being their common ground. Woodrue gave Ivy her powers by performing cruel and unusual experiments on her while he was her professor in college. The experience left Ivy vengeful, and she’d go on to show very little trust in Jason Woodrue. Like his origin in the comics, Woodrue is described as being an alien. Ivy is described as a natural mutant. I’m not quite sure if Animated Universe Ivy varies from the comics but I found that interesting. No big whoop because I got to SEE Floro and Ivy as a villain team! I never thought I’d see the day he’d even make it into a tv show.
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Back to the topic of wacky and unorthodox. There are two full-length songs in the movie and they are awesome. I’d invite Harley to karaoke night anytime. While looking for info on Ivy’s whereabouts, Harley takes Batman and Nightwing to a bar/dance club. The patrons are villains and henchmen who are very surprised to see Batman and Nightwing wth Harley, but it doesn’t stop them from shaking a leg. After a song and dance, Harley is able to get some info off of Shrub, the character below.
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He doesn’t say anything in the film but I’d love to see Shrub make his way into books. I’m not sure if his 70s style and hairdo is an homage to the Floronic Man from the same time period…

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Image: Super-Team Family 14 (1978)

Of course a bar full of villains are going to want to try their luck in fighting the caped crusader. And after all, he did come to their dance joint. The results are not good…
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Pow!, Zap! and Bang! have been replaced by, Bleed! and Ow, my balls! When I was purchasing the digital download, I noticed it was listed under the kids section. For as fun as this movie is, it wasn’t made for kids.

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Tubers! It was a fun surprise to see tubers make it in the mix. Those familiar with Alan Moore’s run know the magic of Swampy’s tubers. Woodrue tells Ivy, “I removed a half dozen of these off Swamp Thing’s corpse while he was temporarily deceased.” I’m not quite sure what scenario Woodrue is referring to in saying, Swamp Thing was “temporarily deceased” but he’s had access to the tubers in the past.

Woodrue uses a tuber to transport he and Ivy. The results differ from that of the comic but the effects and trip they take together is depicted in a really cool way.
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Len Wein’s prank from Swamp Thing 2 (series 6) seems to be re-used in this funny scene where Woodrue gets wrapped up in the dramatic moment of traveling through the Green and forgets his bag. His hand reamerges from the green to retrieve the bag.
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Image: Swamp Thing 2 (2016)

Weinwright Swamp, located in southern Louisiana, Houma to Swamp Thing.
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As a tribute to Swamp Thing’s creators, Len Wein and Bernie Wrightson’s names were combined for the fictional location in Louisiana where Alec Holland’s lab exploded. Harley, Batman and Nightwing catch up to Ivy and Woodrue there.
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When Swampy shows up, the tone of the movie seems to change a little. The dramatic music (like something out of Jurassic Park) and the environment whymsicly coming to life (like Princess Mononoke) made for an indelible moment. His reveal might just be the coolest of any Swampy tv/movie appearance. His exit, on the other hand, is a different story.
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Swamp Thing slowly emerges from the water.
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Nightwing, Harley and Batman are kind of adorable, in awe of Swamp Thing’s presence.
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Swamp Thing comes off as stoic, slow to speak (how he is typically written in the books) and says he’s been spending time with the Parliament of Trees to seek the truths regarding eternity. I was really surprised by Swamp Thing’s presence. It almost seemed like he didn’t need to show up in the film. But, I’m not going to complain about a Swamp Thing sighting and I greatly appreciate how he was depicted. It’s not your normal Swamp Thing, or rather, it’s not the more articulate character that we’ve seen in comics and tv recently. Swampy seems contemplative, god like and all-knowing in this movie.
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I’m going to leave my review at that, and I hope I didn’t reveal too much for those who read past the spoiler warning. The movie is packed with fun and details I tried to avoid exposing you to, in case you haven’t had the opportunity to watch yet.

The ending of the movie felt appropriate -although very unexpected- circling back as if to let us know, this is another fun Batman caper. I’m interested to hear how other Swampy fans received the movie and if you picked up on some of the Swamp Thing Easter eggs. Let me know what you think.
-John

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