Nostalgia #2: Batman: The Animated Series (1992-1995)

Our first foray into the worlds of our childhoods ended with a sad conclusion that some things age badly. Today, we present you with an animated series from quarter a century ago that still delights our cynical older selves.

Also, our second DC post in a row, what’s going on??

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Batman: The Animated Series originally aired from 1992 to 1995 and consisted of 85 episodes, unevenly distributed between Season One (65) and Season Two (20). This frequently awarded series is still considered one of the greatest superhero animations, and started many further animated DC Series, way before MCU.

Piotrek: In the world of animations, I had to wait till recent Spiderman to see a Marvel piece to rival this one. And it is, so far, one feature film, whereas Batman: TAS was consistently brilliant for 85 episodes!

Ola: And let’s not forget that it also paved way for some really good animated Batman movies targeted for a more mature audience – a rather rare situation in American animation industry, usually focused on kids. I can heartily recommend Batman vs. Robin from that batch, based on Snyder’s Batman: the Court of Owls storyline.

Piotrek: Batman: TAS shaped my view of Batman, as I watched it before I got my hand on any significant amount of Batman comics. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen a few episodes when they were first aired by Polish TV in 1993-95, and most of the rest during a re-run in 1997-1999. Recently, I’ve seen them all, for the first time truly appreciating the voice acting – TV in Poland doesn’t trust in its viewers reading skills and gives us voiced-over translation. Now there is also a dubbed version, but I cannot say if it’s any good – and it’s hard to come by anyway.

BTAS

Ola: I distinctly remember watching some episodes back in 1993, and my impression that it was quite scary – unusually dark for an animated series back in the day ๐Ÿ˜‰ Mark Hamill gave his all to the Joker impersonation, and the results were brilliant – if a tad unsettling for a kid. I remember my surprise that Luke Skywalker could sound so convincingly menacing ๐Ÿ™‚ When I now listen to his Joker, I have an impression he enjoyed himself quite a lot!

Piotrek: This is a perfect Batman, and with 85 episodes we get to see most of his friends and enemies. Joker being the best, definitely.

I agree, it wast noir in tone, darker than your average kiddie cartoon. I was scared from time to time! The dark, minimalistic visuals combined perfectly with Shirley Walker’s score for stronger effect. Writing was also top-notch. Stories were complex, often divided into two episodes, characters complicated and interesting.

I’ve tried to re-watch X-Men last year, show I also used to love as a kid, and it just wasn’t as good. It looked dated, dialogues were, at moments, frankly, embarrassing. Newer serial animations from Marvel, likeย The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, couldn’t get my attention, it was candy-like colourful and simplistic. Batman is as good as ever. Why?

Ola: My take is that the creators made it for themselves ๐Ÿ˜‰ Batman-crazed adults trying to convey their remembered youthful infatuation with the imaginary world where Gotham actually exists and virtuous Batman fights crime whatever the cost – to which they added their mature understanding of the real world, with its palette of greys and plethora of maybes.

Harley-Quinn-Batman-Animated-Series

Piotrek: Researching for this post I’ve read Harley Quinn was actually introduced on this show. That is an essential Batman character portrayedย  brilliantly in many pieces of media since! That alone would be a worthy contribution to the Bat-lore.

Ola: Indeed, Harley Quinn came to be one of the most important female characters of the Batman universe – and is portrayed in a decidedly feminist light as a woman who chooses to become a super-villain and remain really professional in all her endeavors – sure, in part because of her infatuation with Joker, but mostly – because she can ๐Ÿ˜‰

Piotrek: I’ve tried to think of the episodes that made the strongest impression. And the ones that stand out the most are not the ones focusing on Batman and his fight against crime, but stories told from other points of view. With the exception of Perchance to Dream, a story in which Bruce Wayne experiences an alternative world of happy family life without the tragedy that made him who he is. His (spoiler alert, but, I mean, are there any doubts?) decision to forgo it and face the hard reality shows the audience the real strength of this hero.

Almost Got ‘Im is a rare example of really well-executed anthology episode (ok, another spoiler alert, I guess if you want to avoid spoilers, go straight to the last paragraph…) with Bat’s arch-enemies each telling a story of how they almost got him. And Catwoman is also there!

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I’m also a big fan of Harley and Ivy, a story in which these two supervillains team up to show they don’t need men to create havoc all over Gotham City. Joker is not amused, and this is one of the stories that explore the abusive relationship of Harley Queen and Batman’s greatest adversary.

Ola: Almost Got ‘Im was great! It had that gritty tone usually associated with mystery/thriller genre, even the poker game – all in the spirit of Detective Comics, ๐Ÿ˜‰ I also enjoyed The Man Who Killed Batman episode with the memorable appearance of hapless wannabe Big Shot Sid the Squid.

Batman TAS Almost Got Im

Piotrek: What more is there to be said? It’s a perfect series that needs to be watched and re-watched and that deserves to be in everyone’s animated canon. It so good it even has it’s Honest Trailer. Seven minutes guaranteed to make you wanna re-watch the series!

Ola: There’s also a feature film Batman and Harley Quinn from 2017, considered by ts creators “a spiritual successor to Batman: TAS” and indeed, it has the same quirky humor, similar style of animation and the same voice actors for Batman and Nightwing – not to mention Bruce Timm as the main screenwriter. Though it received mixed reviews, it’s still a nice tribute to the series, and hopefully a good sign of things to come ๐Ÿ™‚ Especially that it had Swamp Thing in its cast! ๐Ÿ˜€

Verdict: Batman: TAS is highly recommended!

 

27 thoughts on “Nostalgia #2: Batman: The Animated Series (1992-1995)

      • It is the same artwork style as B:TAS, which is why I was interested in it. Once again, the library never had the full set, so I never saw a completed storyline. It takes the Dark Knight graphic novel mythos (batman in the future has retired, new protege, etc, etc) and there is a movie called Return of the Joker or something, that has Mark Hamill. It seemed to be more youth oriented and I don’t know how a re-watch would go.

        I’ve often thought about buying TAS but I’m just not a big enough Bats fan to spend any money on him. Heck, I didn’t even buy the Knight Fall graphic novels when they came out.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Yay for rewatch! ๐Ÿ˜€ And thanks a bunch! Our second foray into the nostalgia territory ended with a success, I’m quite curious about the third one now ๐Ÿ˜‰

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  1. This, along with Dragonball Z was my favourite show growing up. Batman Beyond is also excellent and well worth a watch.

    I now want to go back and watch them all followed by Batman Beyond! Thank you, both of you, for reminding me how much I loved this.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great post guys! I watched this back in the day, made me even more of a Batverse fan. Harley Quinn was a great addition – and brought in some revealing issues. Mark Hamill loved doing the voice for the Joker, you can tell when watching him ‘in character’.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks a lot!
      Yeah, Batman: TAS has this effect ๐Ÿ˜‰ And I agree that Harley Quinn was a great idea, and very well executed – so much so her character immediately became canon.
      I actually heard Hamill somewhere saying Joker was the role of his life ๐Ÿ˜‰

      Liked by 1 person

  3. No surprise here, I’m a die-hard fan of Batman: TAS! I grew up with these, waking up early in the morning to watch every episode. I revisited the whole series a couple of years ago and consolidated my love for it even more. It was only around then that I made the connection that Luke Skywalker = the Joker. Made me appreciate Mark Hammil a lot hahaha This is indeed the best animated superhero tv series out there. I did also have a nice time with the animated Spider-Man, X-Men, Superman, Justice League, Batman Beyond and so many others. I wish they created a DC animated universe for TV series (instead of animated/live-action movies), it would be cool and probably much better than the CW Network Arrowverse. Have you two seen Batman: Mask of the Phantasm or any of the Batman: TAS-universe movies? Mask of the Phantasm is considered one of the best animated movies too.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Really need to see Mask of the Phantasm… I’ve seen Batman and Harley Quinn, and enjoyed its goofiness more than I’d thought ๐Ÿ˜‰ I’m eyeing the Death of Superman movie from DC animated universe – looks pretty decent ๐Ÿ™‚
      Have you seen the new Titans TV series?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Death of Superman was a really solid adaptation of the comic book. The sequel, a bit less.

        Yep. I finished the 1st season. It is pretty insane in its portrayal of our young adult heroes, but I had fun watching it and looked forward to how far they dared push it. There are a lot of flaws though, but it’s better than 95% of CW’s heroes’ seasons so far. ๐Ÿ˜›

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        • Well, don’t start me on Arrow and the rest… ๐Ÿ˜‰ The only superhero TV series I found really ambitious and worthwhile to date (i.e. I wasn’t bored/dismayed after a few episodes) were Daredevil and Punisher, and the first season of Luke Cage – the second was not that good and ended in a quite unfair manner as a setup to season three, which we know won’t happen :(. Guess that’s why we didn’t write a review ๐Ÿ˜‰
          But Daredevil and Punisher – just wow. ๐Ÿ˜€

          Liked by 1 person

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