30 Day Television Challenge: Day Thirteen

Favorite Childhood Show: Batman: The Animated Series

Batman: The Animated Series is one of the first shows I fell in love with and remains a favorite. I can remember other shows that I enjoyed (Ninja Turtles, Gargoyles, Ghost Busters, Power Rangers, X-Men, Spider-Man) but Batman was always may favorite.

To this day, Batman: TAS  is my favorite incarnation of the Batman mythos.

The series’ aesthetic is brilliant. An anachronistic blend of various American epochs, it’s more about creating a mood than establishing some kind of realistic setting. Gotham is 1940s New York  with all the modern technology of science fiction. Gothamites drive custom cars with video-speaker phones. Villains use tommy guns to shoot at Batman who flies in a futurist heli-glider (the Batwing). Burton’s and Schumacher’s films strive for a similar aesthetic but never really pull it off; it’s something that can only be achieved with animation.

Batman: TAS is also noteworthy in that it’s a return to the true roots of Batman in popular media. As much as I loved Nolan’s Batman, the caped crusader is a detective at heart, not an action hero. Batman: TAS embraces this; it’s basically film noir meets Saturday morning cartoons. Accordingly, the series, though its target audience is kids, maintains a mature and sophisticated storyline.

Batman: TAS also has some of my favorite performances of the Batman characters. First and foremost, Kevin Conroy. Even including Christian Bale, I must say Conroy is my favorite Batman. His voice is absolutely pitch-perfect, able to be charming as Bruce Wayne yet threatening as Batman (without teetering on self-parody as Bale does). I simply cannot accept any other voice when it comes to animated Batman.

Recently, The Dark Knight Returns was finally been adapted as an animated film. For years, I’ve told anyone who’d listen that this would be an excellent project. However, instead of Conroy, the creators elected to hire Peter Weller (Robocop) as Batman. I know I ought to give it a chance, but I just can’t get past this mental block.

Also, I have to give a shout out to Mark Hamill as the Joker. Many people are surprised to hear this, but, yes, Luke Skywalker was indeed the voice of the Joker in Batman: TAS. Along with Conroy’s Batman, Hamill is my favorite version of the Joker. His cheerfully deranged laugh is brilliant.

In addition to masterfully handling canonical characters, Batman: TAS has influenced the current Batman continuity. For example, it created the popular Harley Quinn, Joker’s partner in crime. Quinn was such a hit that DC brought her into the fold. Also, the series is responsible for retconning Mr. Freeze from a clichéd mad scientist with a fetish for the cold to a tragic figure who needs sub-zero temperatures to survive and research a possible cure for his terminally ill wife.

On top of these points, I would argue that the intro to Batman: TAS is one of my all-time favorites. As a kid, I’d get goosebumps whenever I heard the horn section and saw the WB sign turn to headlights.


~ by braddunne on October 1, 2012.

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