Batman: The Animated Series – 30 Years On

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by | Sep 5, 2022 | Film & TV

Batman: The Animated series turns 30 years old and its everlasting impact on the character have never been more appreciated as they are today.

On this day 30 years ago, the first episode of Batman: The Animated Series broadcast on Fox Kids, running for a total of 109 episodes. The series is widely regarded as one of the greatest portrayals of the character ever conceived in media. It’s legacy spawned numerous spin-off films, comic books and toy lines, as well as the famous DC Animated Universe. It’s approach to adult themes and mature storytelling combined with the dark tonal backdrop of the series helped establish the show as not simply a children’s TV show but a well crafted and important milestone in Batman’s evolutionary history.

A NEW ERA

Created by Bruce Timm and Paul Dini, Batman: The Animated Series made its mark on the world by bringing the character back to basics. It abandoned the campy filters of the 1960s and instead took inspiration from Tim Burton’s latest adaptation of Batman in his 1989 film. The Art Deco architecture of Gotham City’s skyscrapers shown on the big screen translated well into animation in order to give the city its own identity, becoming a character all in itself. We begin to make ourselves familiar with the iconic landmarks we know and love from the comics including Wayne Manor, whose isolated, gloomy and mysterious aesthetic being reflective of Batman himself. 

The titular character of Bruce Wayne/Batman is as iconic as he is faithful to the original character Bob Kane and Bill Finger put together. Billionaire playboy by day, vigilante by night, the epitome of what makes Batman so simple on the surface only hides the depth and layers of the man beneath. Batman: The Animated Series has episodes not only following Batman as he fights criminals on Gotham’s sprawling rooftops, but also Bruce Wayne. A man whose mission leads him to a great deal of pain, sacrifice and personal cost. 

THE MISSION

However there is a hopefulness the series brings to the character which previous adaptations had never explored, the human side of the character. Bruce Wayne is Batman, but he is also a business CEO living up to his family name. He is a friend to those in need and the countless Gotham citizens that look up to his wealth and authority.

He is a son, attempting to fight for the memory of his parents who were taken from him, the vow he swears to war on all criminals stems from the very moment he turned into the boy orphan. He is a mentor and a father, to the young wards he brings under his wing and teaches them not how to become like him, but how they can become better than him. To not be consumed by the pain life throws at us and instead turn it into something good, something that can help and inspire others. 

The series covers all these things and more twice over, it dives into the darkness surrounding the Batman and brings out the one thing critics often overlook, the one thing people forget is at the heart and soul of the character…

Batman: The Animated Series

HOPE

The character of Batman may be often associated with ideas of justice, vengeance and the night, but he is less often linked to the idea of hope. Batman fights back against villainy and criminality again and again not because he is a dark brooding figure of eternal darkness, but because he is driven by a hope that never again will another living soul experience what he did. The hope of a brighter day, a brighter people and a brighter future for the city he loves and the city he believes in. 

Pain may be his driving force but it is not his end goal. Some may consider his fight a lost cause, an endless revolving door of maniacs and criminal masterminds in and out of Arkham Asylum to wreak havoc and beat down Batman over and over. But it’s this hope, combined with his determination and skillset that allow him to never back down, to consider his city and the people in it worth fighting for until his dying breath. 

A LASTING LEGACY

All of this is what makes Batman great. Makes him human. This is the legacy that Batman: The Animated Series leaves behind, a legacy that continues to define the character to this very day. Every modern take on the character is in one form or another identifying with one of the many themes expressed in this series. I could go on about how the dynamics between the characters are expertly written, how Mark Hamill’s Joker is the perfect balance of a clown prince of crime that is equal parts entertaining equal parts terrifying. Even Alfred’s often sarcastic sense of humour or Robin’s wisecracking jokes all contribute to breaking down the walls that Bruce puts up as Batman. 

I could talk about how great and how loved this series is all day. But a better way to end this would be to simply tell anyone who comes across this article to give the series a watch if you haven’t already. Whether you’re a fan of the caped crusader or someone who’s only experience of Batman is The Dark Knight movie by Christopher Nolan (also brilliant check that out!). 30 years on, this series is a piece of timeless pop culture history that redefined an icon and established Batman as one of the greatest heroes of all time. 

Batman: The Animated Series

Written by George Cooper

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