Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Nostalgia Bomb! - Batman: The Animated Series

What is it?
Batman: The Animated Series was a cartoon produced by Warner Bros. Animation and developed by Bruce Timm and Eric Radomski. Taking cues from the popular films Batman and Batman Returns, a more adult-themed cartoon was created that was appropriate for young and old alike.

When did it come out?
The series premiered in 1992 and the first season included a 65 episode run, which aired every weekday until 1993. It was re-branded The Adventures of Batman and Robin in its second season, which aired weekly on Saturdays from 1993 to 1994, at which time the first season was being aired as repeats on the still weekday schedule under the newly re-branded title.

What about today?
Although the original show, which falls under the branding of Batman: The Animated Series, only ran from 1992 to 1995, with a total of 85 episodes and two feature-length films, its legacy still reaches out to today. It began what has become known as the DC Animated Universe, and would spawn direct sequels with shows like Superman: The Animated Series, The New Batman Adventures, Batman Beyond, Justice League and Justice League: Unlimited, just to name a few.

Even the most recent productions by Warner Bros. Animation, like Batman: The Killing Joke are taking cues from the original series, including casting mainstays Kevin Conroy as Batman/Bruce Wayne and Mark Hamill who - surprisingly - became the most iconic voice actor to ever portray The Joker.

Why do I remember it?
Everything about Batman: The Animated Series makes it memorable today. It pushed a lot of boundaries in its release, adding a more adult tone to children's cartoons that wasn't seen previously.

The production of the show created a timeless vision of Gotham, which seemed to include modern day technologies like cell phones with blimps in an art deco/bauhaus style.

Characters were re-imagined to give them more depth, like Mr. Freeze - no longer a mad scientist, now a lover avenging his dead beloved - or Clay Face - a now tragic accident yearning to return to his past life. It even created a new Bruce Wayne/Batman dynamic; no longer was Bruce Wayne portrayed as an idle playboy, but instead the true leader of Wayne Industries, a man revered for his work ethic and magnanimity.

Batman versus Clay Face!
Whether this was the most accurate portrayal of Batman from the comics or not, it was and is the greatest overall portrayal of the property. It essentially took the best of everything and created the perfect package. It didn't have to be as dark and grim as was the slant of the comic books and films of its generation, and it could appeal to children who wanted to see more of the character.

From the animation, to the music - homaged from Danny Elfman's Batman film score, to the excellent writing and depictions of some of Batman's incomparable Rogue's Gallery, Batman: The Animated Series pushed the envelope for what a cartoon could accomplish and it became the sturdy base for everything DC would publish in its animated wing for decades to come.

Batman: The Animated Series is most-definitely a blast from the past!

Hope you enjoyed,