The 90’s when it came to animated series or cartoons in general, were like testers. Experiments for the creators to see how frequent their audience (children) would watch and how would the parents respond to what’s being broadcasted. Nevertheless, the imagination of these creators gave a sort of ‘Golden Age’ period for cartoons to display a certain principle for morals and messages. One animated series that tried to depict a certain set of morals and values to its audience was the extraordinary ‘Batman‘ franchise. In 1992, Batman: The Animated Series was created as it followed the adventures of Bruce Wayne and his alter-ego, Batman. If you haven’t read the comic books the animated series would closely mirror moments on the Dark Knight.
Once it was announced the Animated Series incarnation of Batman itself would be a different entity from the start as afternoon cartoons were coming off a long decade of merchandising action figures. Over the opening credits, the hero is traversing through Gotham City that has the looked as the producer described it, a 1939 World’s Fair that lasted 60 years. The animation was unbelievable and ahead of its time. Take a look a Batman himself, it was a sharp contrast to the detail-heavy suspect superheroes filing the page of ’90s comic books. He had a sharp jaw, an unhappy line for a mouth, a cowl with jutting ears, a cheekbone, and two pitiless white slits for eyes.
It’s a known story at this point what Bruce Wayne/Batman is all about. Bruce comes from one the most affluent and generous families in Gotham City. As a child, he witnesses his parents’ murder—this tragic event ultimately lead young Bruce to become Batman. As an adult (voiced by Kevin Conroy) is left carrying the responsibility of the family mansion and business, Wayne Enterprises. although he has all this responsibility in his life he’s still left carrying guilt, since he blames himself for his parents’ deaths. With that burden in his life, he created Batman, an alter-ego to get his revenge on all the criminals in Gotham. He would, later on, be joined by sidekick Robin (Loren Lester).
While there’s a strong sense of good and evil, light and dark, much of the action takes place in between; there’s a reason Batman‘s former friend turned split-personality psychopath Two-Face fits in so well. And for that it captured the viewers hearts through its run. It truly didn’t allow the stories being told stray away from who/what Batman was all about. Though never less than heroic, this Batman was a tormented mess.
The voice acting definitely pulled its weight too. Mark Hamill‘s maniacally mirthful Joker will leave Jack Nicholson in the dust. I for one respect Nicholson‘s Joker for you seen a humorous psychopath in the film but the Animated Series truly sent chills down your spine. Batman, Kevin Conroy always plays it straight and is a true standout from the others. To this day, I still picture every Batman‘s voice matching that of Conroy. Even as Bale’s voice seem to be an intimidation tactic along with Affleck’s, the one that remains to me saying “That’s Batman” is Kevin Conroy.
Despite it being a timeless series, there’s always someone who will dispute your claims. However, Batman: The Animated Series is without a doubt the best Batman series dealing with animation other than Justice League. Dark, gritty, mature and the 1930’s kind of style pushed the envelope and became a brilliant show for teens that should be introduced and re-watched.
Happy Batman Day