Remembering the Past: A Batman Retrospective

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The first episode of Beware The Batman premiered last Saturday, and it got me excited. The static computer graphics of Green Lantern never caught on with me, but here, the designs are stepped up. We get an interesting approach to Batman struggling with his life as Bruce Wayne, Alfred has now been replaced with Jason Statham playing Alfred in 20 years, there are a number of larger universe references (Michael Holt aka Mister Terrific and Metamorpho supporting character Simon Stagg both appear), all while also preparing for the introduction of a new version of Katana, who seems to be taking a Kato style approach to help Batman with his fight on crime. Plus Professor Pyg and Mr. Toad show up, and that is pretty fun.

But the series definitely returned to its darker roots, a big departure from some of the other shows. So if you don’t want to give Beware the Batman a try — or if you want a history of Batmanology (TV Shows), I’m here with my illegally swiped degree on the topic from ISB Tech to talk Batman and cartoons – in reverse history!

For the TV shows, the most recent and possibly most all ages friendly Batman cartoon was Batman: The Brave and The Bold.

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Taking several pages and the premise from the Silver Age series, Brave and the Bold teamed Batman up with friends to fight crime in a fun, funny and action-packed series. Anywhere that you can have Batman turned into a gorilla during the first episode gets my vote.

The main series is currently on Netflix Instant (with seasons 1 and half of 2), and it is incredibly kid friendly. Alternately, if a new Batman movie is coming out in stores, Best Buy and other DVD retailers will normally lower the price on the series DVDs. I picked up both volumes of Season 2 for about $8 (normally $20) when The Dark Knight Rises was released on DVD. And personally, I loved Diedrich Bader’s Batman voice to the point where he is my canon Batman voice. It’s hard to get depressed reading Batman comics when he sounds really excited about everything.

Young Justice, while definitely not being Batman focused, had the Caped Crusader as the inspiration for a good quarter of the team by the end of the unfortunately short lived series. Batman acts as a surrogate father for most of the team during season 1, but disappears. With that said, the series is darker than many shows and has some intense moments and long-running plot lines that may be too much for younger readers. Shoot for age 10 and up for Young Justice.

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The Batman, short title, fell by the wayside and annoyed a lot of fans with the redesigns of a lot of characters but from what I saw, despite the choices made design-wise, the series still had a lot going for it. If you are looking for a good trial experience, The Batman Vs Dracula is a solid testing ground for whether or not the series is something you’d be into. The film itself is very well done and occasionally pops up online, or you can find it on DVD paired with Batman/Superman World’s Finest. The film is definitely intense and scary at moments though, so shooting for ages 10 and up would be a safe bet. Of course, this is subjective. Better to judge for yourself.

And finally, we come to the amazing time that was the DC Animated Universe. Starting with Batman: The Animated Series, partially crossing over with Superman The Animated Series (in the aforementioned Batman/Superman World’s Finest), spinning off Batman Beyond before coming back to Justice League and Justice League Unlimited (and a few cameos elsewhere in the DCAU).

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Batman: TAS is the highly regarded cartoon that broke away from the poor Saturday morning animation while attempting more adult stories. It has a very high record of excellent episodes with only a half dozen bad ones. Well, bad is going lightly because when the show faltered, it nose dived. The series is definitely intense though, and the rule of ages 10 and up still applies.

The two Justice League series ended up dropping the more overtly art deco approach and in return beefed up the fun throughout while still tackling questions of nationalism, mortality and the general point of superheroes. The show can skew younger towards 8 and up comparatively.

With all of the intensity found in Batman though, for kids looking for a Bat-fix, they can check out the new Teen Titans Go! which is energetic and candy colored fun for Bat-fans of all ages with Batman making cameos and Robin leading the team.

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Of course, there are numerous direct-to-DVD Batman films, but those are for another day.

What was your favorite modern Batman cartoon? Who is your favorite Batman voice and do you like your Batman fun or furious? Let us know in the comments.

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