That title is not hyperbole. This literally shocked me. Son of Batman, an animated movie, is pretty much exactly what the title suggests. And this scene, in which Batman finds out he has a son, is one of the more bizarre and uncomfortable on-screen moments I’ve ever seen.
Son of Batman is the animated version of Grant Morrison’s Batman and Son story, which started all the way back in 2006 and introduced the comic-reading public to Damian Wayne, Batman’s natural son by Talia al Ghul. Talia and Bruce have always had a fraught relationship. Talia spent her time in the comics caught between her father and her beloved, who never can be permenent allies due to their conflicting ideals.
That’s not to say there haven’t been team-ups. In the 1987 comic Batman: Son of the Demon, written by Mike Barr, Ra’s and Bruce’s goals come more into alignment than they usually do. Bruce works with the man and actually considers becoming his heir. During the story he has a brief affair, which he considers roughly equivalent to a marriage, with Talia.
She gets pregnant, but calamity inevitably ensues and Talia claims to have miscarried the child. Bruce leaves, but Talia still has her secret bundle of joy. And then... the story was dropped.
But the tale inspired Grant Morrison. He picked up on the idea of Talia and Bruce having a son, but went another direction with the details. In this version of the story, Bruce is not at all happy to see Talia, and only hazily remembers their night together. This is because Talia drugged him so he would participate in a “depraved eugenics experiment.” She then introduces him to their son. (It’s worth noting that subsequent stories have muddled Damian’s origin, by bringing in cloning.)
Comics and other fantasy genres sometimes allow for situations and emotions that have no analog in the real world. (Like, are people still heroes if they are constructed in the mind of a sad child-mutant who is the only survivor of nuclear annihilation.) Still, that’s just rape, and Batman at least seems mad about it.
Which makes it crazy that, in the PG-13 movie, he’s too wary to take a drink from Talia. Why? She gave him a drug in his last drink which, in her words, made him “romantic.” Batman only hazily remembers when she drugged his drink, but he knows what happened. And he doesn’t seem mad. When prompted he says, “It wasn’t all bad,” and lets his rapist cuddle him. What puts this over the top is the fact that at the end of the scene, Talia reveals that she was rubbing up against a man, and reminiscing about the time she drugged and raped him, all while their son silently listened from behind a curtain, waiting for the right moment to make a dramatic entrance. What. What?