Batman The Animated Series

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It has been suggested that [[::The New Batman Adventures|The New Batman Adventures]] be merged into this article or section. (Discuss)
File:Bat tas cape.jpg
The animated Batman shoots his grappling gun from a rooftop in a scene from the episode "On Leather Wings".

Batman: The Animated Series was originally the informal name of an acclaimed animated television series adaptation of the comic book series featuring the DC Comics superhero, Batman; widely regarded by fans as the most iconic modern representation of the Batman character and mythology. Although the title was simply referred to as Batman, with no on-screen title mention in the opening credits, the official title is Batman: The Animated Series, as clarified by Warner Bros.

The original episodes, produced by Bruce Timm and Eric Radomski, were first aired from 1992 to 1995. The show was called simply Batman: The Animated Series in the first season, which aired on weekday afternoons, and then was renamed The Adventures of Batman and Robin when the show moved to weekends to emphasize the crimefighting partnership of the characters and also to allow younger audences to become more familiar with Robin who was featured in the then soon to be released film Batman Forever.

After a successful 85 episode run on Fox, a new the show based on Batman: The Animated Series was created for Kids'WB!. Titled The New Batman Adventures new show aired from 1997 to 1999 with 24 episodes produced.. These 24 new episodes aired as part of The New Batman/Superman Adventures. Rumor has it that the show was called Batman: Gotham Knights in the UK, but there has been no real confirmation of it, and no opening credit title was produced with that name. Only early production art for new episodes have that title. Reruns of "The New Batman Adventures," on Cartoon Network for example, were mixed with episodes of Batman: The Animated Series using the same intro sequence.

Some of the creators have gone on record saying that "The New Batman Adventures" is truly an extention of "Batman: The Animated Series," confirmed by the fact that the episodes are sometimes listed on unofficial episode guide websites as episodes #86 - #109, while the original "Batman" cartoon is listed as episodes #1 - #85. On the official Batman: The Animated Series site however, the two series are on seperate pages. The producers have repeatedly stated and confirmed that the show does take place in the same world, continuity, etc, just a few years down the line. The new series was also given a far more stylized look that has drawn heavy criticism. This was in large part due to a lower budget given to animate the series compared to the original, as a result the overseas animation teams would be unable to produce the same quality animation using the original character designs and this required a more stylized look be used for the series in order to maintain consistency.

The original series was partially inspired by Tim Burton's 1989 blockbuster Batman film, and initially took as its theme a variation of music written by Danny Elfman for the film. (Later episodes of the series used a new theme written in a similar style by Shirley Walker.) Another strong influence was the acclaimed Superman cartoons produced by Fleischer Studios in the 1940s. The series premiered in 1992, a few months after the successful release of the second Batman movie, Batman Returns. It eventually ran for 85 episodes, ending in 1995.

Overview

Timm and Radomski designed the series by emulating the Tim Burton films' "otherworldy timelessness", incorporating "old-time" features such as black-and-white title cards, police blimps, and a "vintage" color scheme, partially inspired by the Fleischer Studios Superman cartoons of the 1940s, as well as film noir. The distinctive combination of film noir imagery and Art Deco designs was called "Dark Deco" by the producers. In their constant quest to make the show darker, the producers pushed the boundaries of action cartoons: it was the first such cartoon in years to depict firearms being fired, and many of the series' backgrounds were painted on black paper. First-time producers Timm and Radomski reportedly encountered resistance from studio executives, but the success of Burton's first film allowed the embryonic series to survive long enough to produce a pilot episode, "On Leather Wings", which according to Timm "got a lot of people off our backs."

The series was the first of the modern "DC Animated Continuity" sometimes known as the "Diniverse" named after producer and writer Paul Dini (in some respects, an unfair label, as Dini is not the constant between all of the series of the DCAU; Bruce Timm is the constant). It was entirely separate from the previous continuity of Warner Bros. DC Comics adaptation cartoons, namely The Superfriends.

File:BTAS joker.jpg
The Joker as he appeared in the series. His voice was provided by Mark Hamill.

The Emmy Award-winning series quickly received wide acclaim for its distinctive animation and mature writing, and it instantly became a hit. Fans of a wide age range praised the show's sophisticated, cinematic tone and psychological stories. Voice-actor Kevin Conroy, for example, used two distinct voices to portray Bruce Wayne and Batman, transforming one character into two. This series also featured a supporting cast that included major actors performing the voices of the various classic villains, most notably Mark Hamill, who defined a whole new career for himself in animation with his cheerfully deranged portrayal of the Joker.

Key to the series' artistic success is that it managed to redefine classic characters, paying homage to their previous portrayals while giving them new dramatic force. Villains such as Two-Face and the Mad Hatter, as well as heroes like Robin, are proof of this. Also, the series gave new life to nearly forgotten characters like the Clock King. The best example of dramatic change is Mr. Freeze; Batman: TAS turned him from a clichéd mad scientist with a gimmick for cold, to a tragic figure whose frigid exterior hides a doomed love and a cold vindictive fury. However, the most famous of the series' innovations is the Joker's hapless assistant, Harley Quinn, who became so popular that DC added her to the Batman comics.

This series became a cornerstone of the Warner Brothers' animation department, which became one of the top producers of television animation and sparked a large franchise of similar TV adaptations of DC Comics characters.

Batman: The Animated Series premiered on the Fox Network and aired there for its first two seasons; however, it was then switched to Warner Bros.' new WB Network in the mid-1990s. Shortly before the transition, Fox aired episodes of the series in prime-time on Sunday evenings, marking one of the few times a show created initially for Saturday morning cartoons was scheduled for prime-time broadcast. However, the TV ratings were poor (the show aired opposite the perennial favorite 60 Minutes), and the series was removed from prime time.

After the series produced its 65th episode (the minimum number necessary for a TV series to be successfully syndicated), the show's popularity encouraged Warner Bros. to produce further episodes, furthering the animated adventures of the Caped Crusader. The series reached 85 episodes before finishing its run. Many of the creators went on to design and produce Superman: The Animated Series for Kids'WB!. In the late 1990s a new series based on Batman: The Animated Series was started called The New Batman Adventures which aired in an hour-long Batman/Superman show. The shows was not nearly as well recieved as the original Batman: The Animated Series due to a significantly lower animation budget which resulted in a far more stylized look, each individual episode just having background music mixed rather than being scored, and a more comedic approach to the storylines in general. In 1999, a new spin-off series, Batman Beyond, was released to further critical acclaim. In 2002, the Justice League animated series was released, building on the success of both the Batman and Superman animated series, and featured Batman as one of the founders of the League. Also of note is the fact that several of the animators from Japanese animation studio Sunrise worked on the series - their work on Batman would become a great influence on one of their later series, Big O.

Theatrical and Direct-to-Video Releases

A feature-length animated Batman film was produced for theatrical release, based on the animated series: Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (1993). The film was well-received by fans of the series, but only generated mediocre box office revenue. There was also one direct-to-video movie based on the series: Batman & Mr. Freeze: SubZero which was completed in 1997 and released in (1998). Movies based on related series include "Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker" (2000) based on Batman Beyond, and Mystery of the Batwoman (2003) based on The New Batman Adventures. A made-for-TV feature-length episode of the Batman/Superman series, "World's Finest", has been released on video as The Batman/Superman Movie. Collections of episodes from the series are also readily available on video.

File:Grey ghost.jpg
The Gray Ghost from the episode of a similar name, "Beware the Gray Ghost". Adam West provided the voice for a washed-up superhero serial actor who finds himself needed once more.

Created and Modified DC Characters and Objects

A character, the Gray Ghost, voiced by Adam West, who was Batman in the 1960's TV Series, resembles the DC Comics characters of the 1940s like Sandman and the Crimson Avenger. New villains like Red Claw and the Sewer King were invented for the series, but to little acclaim. Far more successful was the introduction of Harley Quinn, the Joker's sidekick, and to a lesser extent, Officer/Detective Renee Montoya, both of whom became characters in the comics. In addition, Mr. Freeze was revised to emulate the series' tragic story. Clayface was reinvented, revised to be much more similar to the 1950s shapechanging version of the character. In two episodes, Batman faces Kyodai Ken, a ninja whose abilities match his own. The Phantasm and general storyline for the movie Mask Of The Phantasm were modified from the Mike Barr-penned story "Batman: Year Two," which ran in Detective Comics #575-578 in the late 1980s; the villain in the comics was named The Reaper. Some characters like Count Vertigo and Bane were modified in costume and personality.

Batman's tools such as the utility belt, grappling hook, and Batmobile were redesigned for the series; they have been previously redesigned numerous times over the course of Batman's comic book series as well as for various movie and TV incarnations of Batman.

The Lost Episode

A lost episode of the series was made from sixteen minutes of animated segments in the video game The Adventures of Batman and Robin for the Sega CD. It can be viewed here, courtesy of the Toonami Digital Arsenal. Be warned that parts of the episode would have been filled in by gameplay, sound and color are subpar (as would be expected with a Sega CD game), and the story is a little pointless. Nonetheless, it's quite enjoyable for the BTAS completist.

Three other such "lost episodes" could be assembled from similar cutscenes from the videogames "Batman: Rise of Sin Tzu" and "Batman: Vengeance."

Artistic influence

This series had a profound influence on the superhero animated genre in that it set a higher standard of writing and animation quality. For example, the original television series adaptation of X-Men which premiered a few months after Batman featured animation and writing that was typical of the artist standards in superhero animated series. However years later with Batman a major television success, a remake, X-Men Evolution was produced that emulated the Warner Brothers series simplified graphics style with more flowing animation and writing that was generally hailed as superior. In addition, the success of Batman encouraged Walt Disney Pictures management to proceed with their own series, Gargoyles, which strove for the same sophistication as the competition and became a cult favorite in its own right.

Additionally, B:TAS was one of the first truly "serious" cartoons in some time. Prior to that, most animated fare had been lighthearted and bright, even if it was action oriented. B:TAS brought a darkness and seriousness to animation that was almost unheard of at the time, and was more akin to an animated drama than a "cartoon", per se. The storylines dealt with more mature themes, there was no slapstick, and the soundtrack itself was more akin to a film soundtrack (owing in part, no doubt, to the desire to make it have a similar feel to the Danny Elfman score of the two Burton films.) The animation quality itself tended to be much smoother, with a higher framerate than the vast majority of animated series prior to its premiere.

Memorable Episodes

Certain episodes have become legendary in some fan circles. The most universally hailed episode is Heart of Ice, which is most well known for reinventing the character of Mr. Freeze, changing him from a comedic cold-themed villain to a serious, tragic character with a sympathetic backstory. Other episodes to achieve high recognition or at least respect among some fans are Joker's Favor, which marks the first appearance of fan favorite Harley Quinn; Two Face, for its dark, serious, and respectful reinvention of a character that had been somewhat regarded by producers as too gruesome for television; Mad as a Hatter, in which The Mad Hatter is portrayed as the most human and emotionally fragile of Batman villains, instead of a gimmicked weirdo; and Beware The Gray Ghost, well known for its casting of Adam West as a has-been actor, who became typecast as a superhero part he played in his youth.

Episode List

Season One (Sept 1992-Aug 1993)

  1. The Cat and the Claw (Pt. 1) - Catwoman introduced
  2. On Leather Wings - Man-Bat introduced
  3. Heart of Ice - Mr. Freeze introduced
  4. Feat of Clay (Pt. 1) - Clayface introduced, Roland Daggett introduced
  5. Feat of Clay (Pt. 2)
  6. It's Never Too Late
  7. Joker's Favor - The Joker introduced, Harley Quinn introduced
  8. The Cat and the Claw (Pt. 2) - Red Claw introduced
  9. Pretty Poison - Posion Ivy introduced
  10. Nothing to Fear - Scarecrow introduced
  11. Be a Clown
  12. Appointment in Crime Alley - Lesley Thompkins introduced
  13. P.O.V.
  14. The Clock King - Clock King introduced
  15. The Last Laugh
  16. Eternal Youth
  17. Two-Face (Pt. 1) - Two-Face introduced
  18. Two-Face (Pt. 2)
  19. Fear of Victory
  20. I've Got Batman in My Basement - The Penguin introduced
  21. Vendetta - Killer Croc introduced
  22. Prophecy of Doom
  23. The Forgotten
  24. Mad as a Hatter - Mad Hatter introduced
  25. The Cape and Cowl Conspiracy
  26. Perchance to Dream
  27. The Underdwellers
  28. Night of the Ninja - Ninja (Kyodai Ken) introduced
  29. The Strange Secret of Bruce Wayne - Professor Hugo Strange introduced
  30. Tyger, Tyger
  31. Dreams in Darkness
  32. Beware the Gray Ghost - Mad Bomber introduced
  33. Cat Scratch Fever
  34. I Am the Night
  35. Almost Got 'Im
  36. Moon of the Wolf - Professor Milo introduced
  37. Terror in the Sky
  38. Christmas With the Joker
  39. Heart of Steel (Pt. 1) - HARDAC and Barbara Gordon introduced
  40. Heart of Steel (Pt. 2)
  41. If You're So Smart, Why Aren't You Rich? - Riddler introduced
  42. Joker's Wild
  43. His Silicon Soul
  44. Off Balance - Ra's Al Ghul introduced
  45. What is Reality?
  46. The Laughing Fish
  47. Harley and Ivy
  48. The Mechanic
  49. The Man Who Killed Batman - Squid introduced
  50. Zatanna
  51. Robin's Reckoning (Pt. 1) - "Boss" Zucco inroduced
  52. Birds of a Feather
  53. Robin's Reckoning (Pt. 2)
  54. Blind as a Bat
  55. Day of the Samurai
  56. See No Evil - Ventrixx introduced
  57. The Demon's Quest
  58. The Demon's Quest, Part II
  59. Read My Lips
  60. Fire From Olympus - Maxie Zeus introduced

Season 2 (September 1993-August 1994)

  1. Shadow of the Bat (Pt. 1) - Batgirl introduced and Gill mason interoduced
  2. Shadow of the Bat (Pt. 2)
  3. Mudslide
  4. The Worry Men
  5. Paging the Crime Doctor
  6. House And Garden
  7. Sideshow
  8. Avatar
  9. Trial
  10. Harlequinade

Season 3 (September 1994-November 1994)

  1. Bane - Bane introduced
  2. Second Chance
  3. Riddler's Reform
  4. Baby Doll - Baby Doll introduced
  5. Time Out of Joint
  6. Harley's Holiday
  7. Make 'Em Laugh
  8. Batgirl Returns
  9. Lock-Up - Lock-Up introduced
  10. Deep Freeze

Season 4 (September 1995)

  1. The Terrible Trio
  2. Showdown
  3. Catwalk
  4. A Bullet for Bullock
  5. The Lion & the Unicorn

Home video release

Selected episodes were released on VHS and Laserdisc throughout the 1990s, and on DVD in the early 2000s.

On July 6, 2004, Warner Brothers Home Video released Volume One of Batman: The Animated Series on DVD, consisting of 28 episodes on 4 discs. Volume Two was released on January 25, 2005. Volume Three, containing 29 episodes (incorrectly listed by packaging as 28) was released May 24, 2005 to complete the collection of the initial series. Volume Four (featuring The New Batman Adventures) will be released on December 6th, 2005. They were released as "volumes" rather than "seasons" because the episodes were not aired in production order.

Batman - The Animated Series, Volume One

Disc One

  • "On Leather Wings"
  • "Christmas with the Joker"
  • "Nothing to Fear"
  • "The Last Laugh"
  • "Pretty Poison"
  • "The Underdwellers"
  • "P.O.V."

Disc Two

  • "The Forgotten"
  • "Be a Clown"
  • "Two Face (Parts 1 & 2)"
  • "It's Never Too Late"
  • "I've Got Batman in My Basement"
  • "Heart of Ice"

Disc Three

  • "The Cat and the Claw (Parts 1&2)"
  • "See No Evil"
  • "Beware of the Gray Ghost"
  • "Prophecy of Doom"
  • "Feat of Clay (Parts 1&2)"

Disc Four

  • "The Joker's Favor"
  • "Vendetta"
  • "Fear of Victory"
  • "The Clock King"
  • "Appointment in Crime Alley"
  • "Mad as a Hatter"
  • "Dreams in Darkness"

Batman - The Animated Series, Volume Two

Disc One

  • Eternal Youth
  • Perchance To Dream
  • The Cape And Cowl Conspiracy
  • Robin's Reckoning Part One
  • Robin's Reckoning Part Two
  • The Laughing Fish
  • Night Of The Ninja

Disc Two

  • Cat Scratch Fever
  • The Strange Secret Of Bruce Wayne
  • Heart Of Steel Part One
  • Heart Of Steel Part Two
  • If You're So Smart, Why Aren't You Rich?
  • Joker's Wild
  • Tyger, Tyger

Disc Three

  • Moon Of The Wolf
  • Day Of The Samurai
  • Terror In The Sky
  • Almost Got 'im
  • Birds Of A Feather
  • What Is Reality?
  • I Am The Night

Disc Four

  • Off Balance
  • The Man Who Killed Batman
  • Mudslide
  • Paging The Crime Doctor
  • Zatanna
  • The Mechanic
  • Harley & Ivy

Batman - The Animated Series, Volume Three

Disc One

  • Shadow of the Bat Pt. 1
  • Shadow of the Bat Pt. 2
  • Blind as a Bat
  • The Demon's Quest Pt. 1
  • The Demon's Quest Pt. 2
  • His Silicon Soul
  • Fire From Olympus

Disc Two

  • Read My lips
  • The Worry Men
  • Sideshow
  • A Bullet for Bullock
  • Trial
  • Avatar
  • House & Garden

Disc Three

  • The Terrible Trio
  • Harlequinade
  • Time Out of Joint
  • Catwalk
  • Bane
  • Baby-Doll
  • The Lion and The Unicorn

Disc Four

  • Showdown
  • Riddler's Reform
  • Second Chance
  • Harley's Holiday
  • Lock-Up
  • Make 'Em Laugh
  • Deep Freeze
  • Batgirl Returns

Cast

Main cast

Supporting cast

Recurring Villains

Notable Guest Stars

Batman: The Animated Series in other media

The television series was accompanied by a tie-in comic book, The Batman Adventures, which followed the art style and continuity of the television series instead of other Batman comic books. The Batman Adventures, through several format changes to reflect the changing world of the series and its spin-offs, outlasted the series itself by nearly a decade, finally being cancelled in 2004 to make way for the tie-in comic of a new, unrelated Batman animated series, The Batman.

There was also a short-lived series of tie-in novels, adapted from episodes of the series by science fiction author Geary Gravel. To achieve novel-length, Gravel combined several related episodes into a single storyline in each novel. The novels included:

  • Shadows of the Past ("Appointment in Crime Alley", "Robin's Reckoning" two-parter)
  • Dual to the Death ("Two-Face" two-parter, "Shadow of the Bat" two-parter)
  • The Dragon and the Bat
  • Mask of the Phantasm (Batman: Mask of the Phantasm movie)

Several videogames based on the animated continuity where released during the 16-bit game-machine era (roughly, that era spans from 1989-1996). Konami developed a game for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES), while SEGA released two versions of the game for the Genesis(North America Name)/MegaDrive(Europe, Asia Name) and Sega/Mega CD. The SNES and Genesis versions were side-scrolling action games, while Sega's CD version featured a 3-D driving adventure. All of the games had art true to the series, while Sega's versions featured art elements directly from the show's creators. The CD version has over 20 minutes of original animated footage comparable to the most well crafted episodes, with the principle voice actors reprising their roles. The critical reception of these games were varied but above average.

The Batman Adventures: The Lost Years

Shortly after The New Batman Adventures began airing on Kids WB!, DC Comics published a five issue miniseries titled The Batman Adventures: The Lost Years. This series bridged the gap between the end of Batman: The Animated Series and the start of the new show. The plot is as follows:

Book One: Robin (Dick Grayson) voices his disapproval regarding Batman's tolerance of the crimefighting activities of the relatively untrained Batgirl and takes it upon himself to stop her. Subsequently, Batman deduces that Batgirl is actually Barbara Gordon while watching her play tennis against Dick -- he realizes that she moves just like Batgirl. Batman decides to take Batgirl under his wing and give her the training she needs. Robin is upset by this decision and argues with Batman, but fails to change his mind.

Book Two: Bruce and Dick continue their argument up through Dick's high school graduation ceremony. Dick decides to leave Gotham City, despite the protests of Alfred and Barbara.

Book Three: Dick discovers an ancient African tribe and learns combat techniques from them, finally taking the first steps out of Batman's shadow. Inspiration comes and Dick develops a new persona for himself: Nightwing.

Book Four: Batman gets darker and angrier and more driven because of Dick's departure -- his new partner Batgirl is concerned over his change in personality. One night, while on the trail of Two-Face, Batman saves young Tim Drake, son of petty criminal "Shifty" Drake. Shifty was murdered by Two-Face and Tim swore revenge. Batman trained Tim into Robin and gave him another shot at life. Two-Face was captured and Batman took in Tim as his second ward.

Book Five: Dick returns to Gotham in his new Nightwing guise. Batgirl is baffled by his newfound arrogance and brooding attitude. Nightwing later meets the new Robin and his heart is broken by being so easily replaceable. Nightwing then reveals that he intends to steal an ancient artifact that belongs to the tribe that had taught him his new skills. Batman stops Nightwing and eventually gets him to agree to rejoin the team alongside the fully-trained Batgirl and the new Robin.

References

  • Dini, P. and Kidd, K. Batman Animated, Perennial Currents, 1999. ISBN 006107327X

See also

Gotham Girls, Warner Bros' official series of Flash animations using many of the characters from the comic book and television series.

External links

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