The New Adventures of Batman was the last time Batman and Robin had worked independently of the Justice League, having been in their company throughout Hanna-Barbera’s Super Friends franchise for over a decade. Four years after that show ended, Tim Burton brought Batman back to live-action with 1989’s Batman. Starring Michael Keaton in the title role and Jack Nicholson as the Joker, the movie became the top-grossing film of the year and successfully brought Batman back to his darker roots for the general public that the storylines “Year One”, The Dark Knight Returns and The Killing Joke did for the comic fans.
In 1990, Warner Bros. Animation president Jean MacCurdy announced to her staff that the studio was looking to develop other properties; principle amongst them was Batman. Bruce Timm quickly drew up several concepts of how Batman would look in animation. At the same time, background artist Eric Radomski worked on his own proposal of an animated Gotham City. Two months later, MacCurdy put the two together to work on a promo reel to show the studio what they intended to do for a proposed Batman series. They came up with a quick concept: Batman encounters a trio of jewel thieves on a Gotham rooftop and takes them down before the police arrive and he swings off into the night. The promo largely resembled what the final product eventually would, albeit a little rougher. It also ended up not being necessary as the studio greenlit the series anyway to coincide with Burton’s Batman Returns, but the promo led to Timm and Radomski being placed as producers on it.
|Batman's original Batmobile.|
Joined by producers/writers Paul Dini and Alan Burnett, their first task was to decide the overall tone of the series. What they ultimately settled on was to attempt to make each episode feel as if the audience had just watched a half-hour movie. They wanted a return to the darkness that the comics originally embodied, taking great inspiration from Fleischer Studio’s Superman theatrical shorts as well as Burton’s film. They developed a style they called “Dark Deco,” which was a combination of noir imagery and art deco design. It gave a timeless quality to the visuals with the incorporation of police blimps, tommy guns and modern technology such as televisions and computers with black and white screens. To achieve the proper mood, the animation was done in reverse by using light colors on black paper; although initially their color palette was limited to the selection they had available on Tiny Toon Adventures. They also allowed their creators the freedom they needed to create, letting storyboard artists drive action scenes instead of writers putting every little thing in the scripts.
|Kirk Langstrom transforms into Man-Bat.|
Being first time producers, Timm and Radomski received a lot of blowback over the decisions they were making in their approach to the show. Executives and their bosses grew increasingly worried and constantly breathed down their necks fearing that the show would become an expensive flop. However, after the rough footage for the first produced episode, “On Leather Wings”, arrived, all fears were laid to rest and they were allowed to continue fairly unhindered. They were also given some early access to Burton’s Batman Returns, from which further inspiration was drawn.
|Why they call him "the Dark Knight."|
In casting the show, the producers sought not to find cartoon voice actors, but actors who happened to be in a cartoon. They wanted the material treated like it was a stage or radio play, looking for serious performances and not like it was made just for Saturday morning. That made casting some roles very easy, and some extremely hard. The hardest of all was of the series’ lead: Batman. That is until Kevin Conroy came in to audition. Feeling that the character emanates from a very dark, personal place, Conroy reached down inside himself and delivered Batman’s lines in a deep, guttural voice that floored everyone in attendance. Although Batman’s dialogue was kept at a minimum, Conroy gave Batman what many consider his definitive voice. Conroy also did something no other actor had done before in Batman animation: he gave Bruce Wayne a different, higher voice in order to further distinguish the two aspects of his personality; much the way Keaton was the first to do so for live-action. Wayne was also portrayed as more of an intelligent and competent person, rather than the flippant playboy he had been before.
|Batman and Robin.|
Robin (Loren Lester) was included to lighten up the series a bit and give Batman someone to play off of. However, the producers attempted to balance the various incarnations of Robin in order to make him different enough from Batman while still adhering to the tone of the show. Dick Grayson’s origin was kept intact, but they decided to advance him to college age to explain why he wasn’t around in every episode and to allow him to access places a younger Robin couldn’t go. It was decided to give Dick an adaptation of the costume being worn at the time by the third Robin, Tim Drake, that debuted in Batman vol. 1 #457 (1990) as it was a cooler and more serious design than the bare legs and pixie boots Dick had worn originally since his inception. Batman served as both a father figure and partner for Dick, even though Dick didn’t always appreciate the former.
|"No patrolling until you clean up your cave!"|
Alfred Pennyworth (Efrem Zimbalist, Jr.), however, served as a father figure for Batman. Blending elements of the Pre-Crisis and Post-Crisis incarnations of the character, Alfred was an MI-6 agent before coming to work for Thomas (Richard Moll and Conroy) and Martha Wayne (Adrienne Barbeau). He ultimately raised Bruce after their murder and helped him assume his Batman identity, as well as aided him behind the scenes on his nightly missions. Alfred was initially voiced by Clive Revill for the first three episodes produced, but had to bow out due to a previous commitment. Zimbalist assumed the role for the remainder of his appearances. Initially, Timm and Radomski didn’t want Zimbalist, desiring a less-warm and authentically British performance, but writer and frequent collaborator Tom Ruegger convinced them otherwise.
|Jim and Barbara Gordon receiving visitors.|
Commissioner James Gordon (Bob Hastings) was presented as a staunch ally of Batman who relied on him to help his department, but still came off as a competent police officer. Being the same age as his father, Batman viewed Gordon as a bit of a surrogate father. His real daughter, Barbara (Melissa Gilbert) made her debut aiding Batman by helping to rescue Gordon from the human-hating super computer H.A.R.D.A.C. (Holographic Analytical Reciprocating DigitAl Computer, voiced by Jeff Bennett). She first donned a costume to pose as Batman in “I Am the Night” to show support for Gordon after he was framed for a crime when Batman refused to do so. She redesigned the costume she wore to become Batgirl and take down the man responsible. She was depicted as being a student at the same college as Dick, and had a flirtatious relationship with him—although neither knew the other’s identity.
|Bullock and Montoya.|
Two prominent police officers had recurring roles throughout the series. Detective Harvey Bullock (Robert Costanzo) was the typical slovenly cop whose clothes were always wrinkled and manners were atrocious. While in the comics he was a dirty cop, the producers decided to make him just slightly dingy; a good cop who accomplished things just a bit outside of acceptable law-enforcement practices. Bullock also resented Batman and Gordon’s constant reliance on him. On the opposite end of the spectrum was his partner, Renee Montoya (Ingrid Oliu). Created for the show, she was a more by-the-book cop and openly supportive of Batman, and was Bullock’s conscience. She was created by Dini as a way to bring ethnic diversity to Batman’s cast.
|Villain promo image featuring Mr. Freeze, Poison Ivy, Penguin, Joker, Harley Quinn, Mad Hatter, Riddler, Catwoman and Two-Face.|
The producers tapped Batman’s extensive rogues gallery for a who’s who of Gotham villainy, updating and modifying his villains to be more of a genuine threat. Amongst his established foes were Selina Kyle, aka Catwoman (whose suit and hair were influenced by Batman Returns, voiced by Barbeau) was a socialite and animal rights activist who stole to further her goals; Oswald Cobblebot, aka Penguin (Paul Williams) was heavily based on the version that appeared in Batman Returns, but retained the refined mannerisms and personality from the comics; Edward Nygma, aka the Riddler (John Glover, who would go on to have a role in the fourth film, Batman & Robin), was reimagined as a computer programmer who was cheated by his boss and adopted his alter-ego in order to seek his revenge; Dr. Jonathan Crane, aka Scarecrow (rendered in two different designs in an attempt to make his appearance scarier, voiced by Henry Polic II), a scientist obsessed with fear who used a fear gas to bring it out of victims; Jervis Tetch, aka Mad Hatter (Roddy McDowall), a scientist who developed special mind-control technology allowing him to control others from his hat; actor Matt Hagen, aka Clayface (given a new design for the show, voiced by Ron Perlman) was transformed into the shape-shifting mud-like man after he was smothered in a special make-up that allowed someone to change their features; and The Joker, whose dark portrayal by Mark Hamill allowed the character to walk the line between his previous incarnations as both a silly clown and a murderous psychopath with tremendous effect.
|Batman vs. Man-Bat.|
Amongst the newer included foes were Pamela Isley, aka Poison Ivy (Diane Pershing), a human with a strong affinity for and some control over plants that led her to attack anyone that threatened nature; Harvey Dent (Moll) was first introduced as the District Attorney of Gotham with a dissociative identity disorder resulting from repressed anger, until being doused with chemicals brought his other personality to light and turned him into dual-minded Two-Face; Waylon Jones, aka Killer Croc (Aron Kincaid), a pro-wrestler with a skin condition that rendered him looking almost reptile-like; Dr. Kirk Langstrom, aka Man-Bat (Marc Singer of Beastmaster fame as Kirk, Frank Welker as Man-Bat), a zoologist who accidentally transformed himself into a man-sized bat after ingesting a serum he created; the venom-powered strongman Bane (Henry Silva, initially using a strong Latin accent), whom the producers initially felt was too gimmicky; Ra’s al Ghul (David Warner), the immortal leader of the Society of Shadows (rather than the League of Assassins) who sought to make Batman his heir by pairing him up with his daughter, Talia (original live-action Supergirl Helen Slater and Olivia Hussey); and Arnold Wesker, aka the Ventriloquist, who seemed to be the unwilling thrall of his mob boss dummy Scarface (both George Dzundza, sans the depicted speech impediment featured in the comics).
|Mr. Freeze and his wife, Nora.|
The producers chose to make use of a character recently killed off in the comics: Dr. Victor Fries, aka Mr. Freeze (Michael Ansara, who initially had some difficulty with the emotionless robotic voice he was asked to use). Initially portrayed as a rogue scientist whose ice gun backfired and doused him in cryogenic chemicals resulting in his needing subzero temperatures to survive, Dini decided to give him a more tragic backstory. In his first written episode for the series, “Heart of Ice”, it was revealed Fries was caught embezzling funds from his employer to secretly work on a cure for his terminally ill wife, Nora. His boss, Ferris Boyle (Hamill, in his first role for the series until he took over the Joker role when Tim Curry had to drop out) found out and knocked Fries into a table of chemicals, turning him into Mr. Freeze. Not only did the episode win the series its first Emmy Award, it gained the series notoriety. The planned ending, which had Freeze in a cell crying snowflakes, was never done and ended up being used instead for Batman & Robin.
|Red Claw planning to skin a Catwoman.|
Along with the established characters, the production crew invented several new foes for Batman to face: Red Claw (Kate Mulgrew) was the leader of a terrorist organization that shared her name and came to odds with Batman and Catwoman; Mary Louise Dahl, aka Baby-Doll (Alison La Placa and Laraine Newman) was an actress who suffered an affliction that kept her permanently in the body of a young girl, and whose diva-like attitude cost her her acting career; Dr. Emile Dorian (Joseph Maher) was a rogue geneticist who wanted to create the ultimate being by splicing together human and animal DNA (splicing was later revisited as a fad in the world of Batman Beyond); and the Sewer King (Michael Pataki), who ran a child slavery ring from the Gotham sewers.
|Joker and Harley Quinn.|
Probably the most prominent new creation from the show was Joker’s henchwoman: Dr. Harleen Quinzel, aka Harley Quinn (Arleen Sorkin). Dini introduced her in the episode “Joker’s Favor” and considered Sorkin for the role based on her appearance in a dream sequence as a jester on Days of our Lives. Dini, friends with Sorkin since college, incorporated elements of her personality into Quinn. Quinzel was a doctor at Arkham Asylum when she fell in love with the Joker after he was captured by Batman and driven insane. She freed Joker and became his sidekick and lover (despite his horrible treatment of her).
|Batman with his childhood hero.|
The biggest guest-appearance, however, was not from a character but from an actor. Adam West, who played Batman in the 1966 Batman live-action series, was brought on to play The Gray Ghost: a character from the television show Bruce grew up watching and partially inspired his Batman alter-ego. The entire character was built around West, and had he not accepted the role the episode “Beware the Gray Ghost” would never have been made.
|Batman trying to dissuade Batgirl.|
Warner Bros. ordered 65 episodes to be produced in order to allow the series to be successfully picked up for syndication. To accomplish this feat, the series was outsourced to several different overseas animation houses: Spectrum Animation, DongYang Animation, Sunrise, Studio Junio, Blue Pencil, AKOM and TMS Entertainment. AKOM, however, was fired after numerous animation inconsistencies in the episodes they turned in. The series’ writing staff consisted of Dini, Burnett, Timm, Ruegger, David Wise, Michael Reaves, Mitch Brian, Eddie Gorodetsky, Henry T. Gilroy, Sean Catherine Derek, Carl Swenson, Jules Dennis, Richard Mueller, Ted Pedersen, Steve Hayes, Randy Rogel, Garin Wolf, Laren Bright, Martin Pasko, Dennis Marks, Samuel Warren Joseph, Judith & Garfield Reeves-Sevens, Beth Bornstein, Elliot S. Maggin, Steve Perry, Brynne Stephens, Cherie Wilkerson, Mark Saraceni, Marty Isenberg, Robert N. Skir, Mike Underwood, Diane Duane, Peter Morwood, Hilary J. Bader, Robert Goodman, Stan Berkowitz, Rusti Bjornhoel, and Rich Fogel, as well as comic book writers Marv Wolfman, Gerry Conway, Buzz Dixon, Len Wein, Joe R. Lansdale, Mike W. Barr, Steve Gerber and Dennis O’Neil. While many episodes combined various elements of stories throughout Batman’s history, some were direct adaptations of those stories.
|Accept no imitations.|
Batman: The Animated Series debuted on the FOX Network’s Fox Kids programming block on September 5, 1992, airing weekday afternoons and primetime on Saturdays. However, the Saturday airings were cut short when it performed poorly against CBS’ 60 Minutes. The opening sequence was animated by TMS and largely inspired by the original demo reel for the show. In an unusual move, the producers decided not to include a title at the end of the sequence, instead relying on Batman’s global familiarity to allow audiences to know they’re watching a Batman show. The end credits featured an image of Batman drawn by Timm that was used on many promotional items. Each episode featured a special title card with an image depicting the overall theme of the story, much like the title shot from older black and white movies.
|The forbidden romance.|
Liking the theme composed for the Batman films, Timm approached Danny Elfman to compose the series’ theme. Elfman initially refused and Timm hired Elfman’s frequent collaborator and conductor Shirley Walker to do so. Elfman changed his mind and composed a variation of his Batman theme for the intro. Walker was retained as one of twenty-four composers for the series, earning her fist Daytime Emmy, and served as the show’s music director. Amongst the primary composers were Lolita Ritmanis and Michael McCuistion. The score was largely inspired by Elfman’s and maintained many of the same elements.
|Batman faces the Phantasm.|
Impressed by the success of the first season, Warner Bros. asked the production team to produce a full-length animated film based on the series. Burnett handled the story, with Pasko writing the flashbacks that were heavily inspired by Citizen Kane, Reaves on the climax, and Dini filling in bits and pieces. Burnett decided to take the opportunity to do a love story with Bruce to really get into his head, feeling no one had done that before. The film introduced Bruce’s former lover Andrea Beaumont (Dana Delany) amidst a mystery surrounding a new murderous vigilante called The Phantasm (Stacy Keach).
Early in production, Warner Bros. decided to change the film from a direct-to-video release and put it in theaters. This change gave the production team less than a year to work on the film, which was less than half the time typically needed to make an animated film upon the completion of the story. In return, the studio granted them a large amount of control and increased the production budget to $6 million. Those funds allowed them to add more elaborate set pieces and create an introduction flying through a computer-generated Gotham City.
Batman: Mask of the Phantasm opened on December 17, 1993 in over 1,500 theaters. It earned $1,189,975 its opening weekend and accumulated $5,617,391 total, making it a financial failure. Critically, however, the movie was praised as one of the best Batman adaptations; even better than Burton’s films. It did eventually earn more than its budget through its various home video releases, and was nominated for an Annie Award for “Best Animated Feature”, losing to Disney’s The Lion King.
Meanwhile, FOX ordered an additional season of 20 episodes, which were largely animated by DongYang (three were handled by Studio Junio). The producers decided to give a larger role to Robin, renaming the series The Adventures of Batman & Robin with its first on-screen title card. Walker’s unused theme was used over a new introduction that featured clips from various episodes; particularly ones that involved Robin. An alternate opening was also created, keeping the original music intact with different clip footage used. The series, now airing primarily on Saturday mornings, concluded its run on September 15, 1995. Many of the staff and crew went on to produce Superman: The Animated Series, giving the Man of Steel the same treatment they did the Dark Knight.
Several months earlier, Warner Bros. and Tribune Broadcasting entered into a joint venture to acquire their own television network. Called The WB, the network was designed around programs geared towards teenagers and young adults. However, they did create a programming block for a younger audience. Known as Kids’ WB, the block began on September 9, 1995, airing principally on Saturday mornings and weekday afternoons. Warner Bros. began steadily moving their programs from other networks onto The WB, including Batman when FOX’s exclusive contract ran out.
|Comparison of the characters between the original run and the revival series.|
With Superman: The Animated Series doing so well, Warner Bros. decided to bring back Batman and ordered 24 more episodes. Working with a reduced budget, the producers weren’t able to give the series the same cinematic flourishes as they had before. Instead, the series was rendered in the same simplistic style as Superman, necessitating a massive redesign to the majority of the characters.
|The new Batman, Batgirl, Robin and Nightwing.|
Batman was given a pouch-laden utility belt, gray highlights on his black accessories, and the yellow oval was removed from his logo. Bruce Wayne was given a neatly-pressed black suit and slick black hair, as well as blue eyes instead of black. Batgirl’s costume was redesigned and recolored to better resemble the original outfit she wore in Detective Comics #359 (1967). The only ones to remain virtually unchanged were Harley Quinn, Clayface, Two-Face, Ra’s and Talia. Gotham City was also given a makeover: always seen under an orange sky with more modern architecture and technology. Most of the original cast returned as well, with Tara Strong taking over Batgirl, Liane Schirmer as Montoya, and Brooks Gardner as Killer Croc. Conroy’s performance changed slightly, as his voice for Bruce was no longer distinguishable from Batman’s.
|Tim Drake's got a little captain in him.|
It was decided to introduce a new Robin to the series for greater youth appeal. The producers brought in the younger Tim Drake (Matthew Valencia), with Dick having a falling out with Batman between the seasons and adopting his independent Nightwing persona. Drake was actually an amalgamation of his character from the comics and the second Robin, Jason Todd. They felt Drake having parents living in close vicinity to Wayne Manor made little sense, so Drake was made an orphan surviving on the street until Batman took him in. His suit was given a basic black and red color scheme with yellow on the inside of his cape, eliminating green altogether.
Officially, the show was known as The New Batman Adventures (Dini actually wanted to call it Gotham Knights, but that title ended up getting used for a 2008 direct-to-video movie). It had a different focus from the earlier episodes, giving more screen time to Batman’s supporting characters than Batman himself. Batgirl especially was featured more prominently as the producers wanted to take advantage of the character being in the then-upcoming Batman & Robin and because Kenner, manufacturer of DC Comics-based toys, wanted to do a full line of toys around the characters. To contrast the lighter, more optimistic co-stars, the writers consciously made an effort to keep Batman’s dialogue as terse and grim as possible.
The new episodes debuted on September 13, 1997 on Kids’ WB as part of the hour-long programming block The New Batman/Superman Adventures alongside a rerun or new episode of Superman: The Animated Series. The new episodes played out their entire run as part of that block with the shared opening titles, never getting an opening sequence of its own. When aired in syndication, The New Batman Adventures episodes were shown with the original Batman intro. The title cards prominent in the original run were also done away with in favor of superimposing the episode’s title over the first scene, the same way Superman’s was done.
|The past and the present: Batman with The Gray Ghost.|
A few other DC heroes made appearances on the show. The scarred Western bounty hunter Jonah Hex (Bill McKinney) appeared in a flashback dealing with Ra’s al Ghul; the backwards-speaking magician Zatanna Zatara (Julie Brown) was presented as a magicless illusionist that Batman had a relationship with during his training years; reporter Jack Ryder (Jeff Bennet) who became The Creeper when exposed to the Joker’s laughing gas and the same chemicals that created him; Jason Blood, who was bonded to the rhyming demon Etrigan (Billy Zane) and was a friend of Bruce’s; and Supergirl (Nicholle Tom) from Superman: the Animated Series, who partnered up with Batgirl and appeared to be friends with her. Likewise, Batman and Robin would appear in three different stories on Superman.
In 1998, a direct-to-video standalone sequel to Mask of the Phantasm was released called Batman & Mr. Freeze: SubZero. The movie featured the original Batman animation style and was intended for a summer 1997 release; however, it was delayed due to the negative reception to Batman & Robin which also featured Mr. Freeze as a villain. The movie, written and directed by Boyd Kirkland, dealt with Mr. Freeze needing to find suitable replacement organs for his wife and kidnapping Barbara Gordon (Mary Kay Bergman) who was a perfect match. The film was well-received by fans and critics and won an Annie Award for “Best Animated Home Entertainment Production.” It was also nominated for a Golden Reel Award in 1999, but lost to Young Hercules.
Four years after the end of the series, a new movie was produced from the same universe. Written by Reaves from a story by Burnett, Batman: Mystery of the Batwoman featured Batman investigating the appearance of Batwoman (Kyra Sedgwick) who targeted the operations of Penguin (David Ogden Stiers, the only time Williams didn’t voice the character), Rupert Thorne (John Vernon in his final performance of the role) and Carlton Duquesne (Richardson). It was the first time Thorne was rendered in the updated style of the show, necessitating a new character model to be created for him. Batwoman’s costume largely resembled the suit from Batman Beyond colored gray instead of black. While most of the original cast returned, Eli Marienthal was cast as Robin and Hector Elizondo took over as Bane. A bonus silent film, Chase Me by Dini and Burnett, was included that showed Batman chasing Catwoman around Gotham.
|The first issue of the comic series.|
DC Comics published several comic series based on the show. The Batman Adventures was primarily written by Kelley Puckett and drawn by Mike Parobeck and Rick Burchett. It ran for 36 issues, 2 annuals and 3 specials. The first annual introduced new character Roxy Rocket, who was adapted into a character for the revival series played by Charity James. One special was an adaptation of Mask of the Phantasm, one was Mad Love by Dini and Timm, which focused on Harley trying to win Joker’s favor by eliminating Batman, and the other was Holiday Special done by a number of creative people who worked on the show. The latter two were both adapted into episodes of the revival series. In 2020, DC began publishing cheap issue-by-issue reprints of The Batman Adventures under the banner DC Classics.
|Batman confronts Joe Chill.|
Along with the show’s name change, the comic was rebranded and restarted as The Batman & Robin Adventures. Mostly written by Ty Templeton with Burchett on art, it ran for 25 issues, 2 annuals and 1 special that was an adaptation of SubZero. The Batman Adventures: The Lost Years was a mini-series that explored the gap between both versions of the show, with the first two issues adapted into the episode “Old Wounds” and the fourth being an adaptation of “Sins of the Father.” In 1998, Batman: Gotham Adventures replaced the previous series and was the longest-running, clocking in at 60 issues. Also in 1998, Dini and Burchett produced the special Batgirl Adventures which gave the animated heroine her own spotlight. In 2003, the original title was revived for a second volume running 17 issues. Every issue had two stories; one by Dan Slott and Templeton, and the other by Templeton and Burchett. #15 by Jason Hall bridged the time gap between Mr. Freeze’s last appearance on Batman and his appearance on Batman Beyond. #17 featured Batman confronting Joe Chill, the man who killed his parents. Each series included additional characters that never appeared on the show.
|The animated series' return to comics.|
In 2004, Dini and Timm let their version of Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy have some fun together in the mini-series Batman: Harley and Ivy. The animated universe made a return to comics in 2016’s Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures by DC and IDW, which featured Batman teaming up with Nickelodeon’s Ninja Turtles from the 2012 computer animated series. It was in this book that the explanation for Scarecrow’s extreme makeover in the revival was explained (with the real-world explanation being Timm hated the original design and wanted him to look even scarier). Beginning in 2020, DC would reprint various issues of the comics in digest-sized character-centric collections starting with Batman Adventures Batgirl: A League of Her Own. That year also saw Dini, Burnett and Templeton return to the world of the show with the all-new mini-series The Adventures Continue, which began digitally but later saw physical print and two follow-ups.
|Super Nintendo version packaging.|
Several video games were released tying into both versions of the series. The first game to land was 1992’s Tiger handheld. In 1993, Konami released Batman: The Animated Series on Nintendo Game Boy. An action-adventure platformer, players could switch between Batman and Robin, each with a specific ability. The Adventures of Batman & Robin was the title of different games produced by different companies for various systems between 1994 and 1995. The Super Nintendo version was released by Konami as an action-adventure platformer where the player guided Batman through levels loosely based on various episodes. The Sega Genesis and Sega CD versions were released by Clockwork Tortoise, the Genesis version featuring a two-player mode as Batman and Robin worked through four different levels and the CD version was a driving game where levels were advanced by piloting either the Batmobile or the Batplane. The CD version also contained 16 minutes of original animation by TMS for the cutscenes, dubbed the “lost episode,” with all the actors reprising their respective roles. The Sega Game Gear version was released by Novotrade Software and featured Batman in another platformer adventure having to rescue Robin from the Joker. In 1996, Gryphon Software Corp released The Adventures of Batman & Robin Activity Center for the home computer, which was a puzzle-solving game.
|Xbox version packaging.|
In 2001, Ubisoft Entertainment released several different games. Batman: Chaos in Gotham for the Game Boy Color was based on the revamped version of the show. Players controlled either Batman or Robin in dealing with escapees from Arkham Asylum. Gotham City Racer for the Sony PlayStation was a racing game that included clips from the show and 6 music tracks by Ray Fabi. Batman: Vengeance for PlayStation 2, Game Boy Advance, GameCube, Xbox and Windows seemed to take place in between the two versions of the show as Batgirl aided Batman on his missions. Most of the series’ voice cast was featured in the game as their respective characters. Batman: Rise of Sin Tzu pit Batman, Robin, Batgirl and Nightwing against original villain Sin Tzu (Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa) created by Jim Lee.
|The complete series box set.|
Warner Home Video released VHS collections containing two to four episodes between 1995 and 1997, four of which were combined into two DVDs and re-released in 2004. Between 2002 and 2004, four multi-episode collections were released to both VHS and DVD: The Legend Begins, Tales of the Dark Knight, Out of the Shadows and Secrets of the Caped Crusader. The entire series was released to DVD between four volumes in 2004 and 2005 (2006 for China and Bulgaria). In 2008, the complete series was packaged together in a special box that came with a 40-page collector’s book containing a guide to the disc contents, character sketches and background paintings. In 2018, the complete series was re-released on Blu-ray in both a limited edition collection with assorted extras and the discs alone.
|Batman Happy Meal toys.|
Kenner produced a line of action figures, vehicles and playsets under the various show titles from 1992 until 1999, when Hasbro assumed production of the line with the series Mission Masters 2. In 2003, Mattel acquired the license and released several waves of figures and playsets under the Batman Animated Classics banner until 2010. After acquiring the DC rights in 2019, McFarlane Toys began releasing all-new action figures modeled after the show’s designs in 2020. In 1992 Parker Brothers produced a 3-D board game and the following year Ertl released a set of die-cast figures and vehicles. McDonald’s also got in on the action with a set of 8 toys based on the original version, while the new version was represented in Jack In the Box’s 2001 Kids’ Meal toys. In 2015, Diamond Select began releasing a series of mini-busts, statues and vinyl banks based on the various characters, and DC Collectibles released action figures and vehicles from both versions of the show reminiscent of the original Kenner line.
|Batman: the music.|
Skylark Publishing published an adaptation of Phantasm in 1994 and Little Brown & Co. an adaptation of SubZero in 1997. Golden Books published two Mr. Freeze books in 1997, while Walter Foster Publishing released How to Draw Batman in 1998. In 1999, Dini and Chip Kidd published Batman: Animated through Harper Entertainment featuring the behind-the-scenes story of the show. In 2003, DK Children released Batman: The Animated Series Guide by Scott Beatty. Beginning in 2009, Stone Arch Books published a series of easy reader storybooks utilizing the same art style and character designs from Batman. The original soundtrack for Phantasm was released by Warner Bros. in 1993, with an expanded edition released in 2009. La-La Land Records released three volumes of the series’ music between 2012 and 2014, and in 2015 Mondo released a die-cut vinyl single in the shape of a bat and a collectible vinyl box set.
|Harley's first ongoing series.|
Batman: The Animated Series is often considered THE definitive version of Batman, marked by fans and comic creators as their go-to whenever they think of the character and the franchise. Many things the show introduced were integrated into the actual comics over the years. Chief amongst them was the popular character Harley Quinn, who made her official regular DC debut in 1999’s Batman: Harley Quinn #1 (her actual first comic appearance was in The Batman Adventures #12). Harley was the star of several of her own series, amongst other numerous appearances in various comics, and eventually grew from a psychotic criminal to something of a psychotic anti-hero. Her budding (no pun intended) friendship with Poison Ivy was also featured and eventually blossomed (okay, maybe a little pun) into an on-again, off-again romance previously alluded to. Other notable carryovers included the new backstory for Mr. Freeze, which led to the character being resurrected in the comics, and the new appearance for Clayface.
|Montoya as The Question.|
Montoya actually appeared in the comics just before her appearance on the show, debuting in Batman #475 (1992). Hearing about the new character, the Batman staff were intrigued by her and wanted to include her in the comics, and since the lead time to produce a comic is shorter than to produce an animated series her official debut was able to beat her intended debut by several months. Over her career, she had quit the police force and become the second faceless hero The Question, as well as had a romantic relationship with the Kate Kane version of Batwoman that was introduced in 52 #7 (2006). The New 52 reboot, however, retconned her costumed career and she was re-presented as just Bullock’s partner in Detective Comics vol. 2 #41 (2015) before Rebirth reinstated that part of her life. Eventually, she would again give up being The Question and would become the new commissioner of the Gotham PD in The Next Batman: Second Son #1 (2021).
|Animated Batwoman and Kate Kane Batwoman, as drawn by Bruce Timm.|
Speaking of Batwoman, the current incarnation’s costume shared a similar design to the Batwoman featured in Mystery of the Batwoman; however, her suit was black, her mask didn’t cover her whole face and included a wig of long red hair, and she had a cape. The brutal vigilante Lock-Up (Bruce Weitz) was adapted in Robin #24 (1996). Paul Dini adapted Roxy Rocket during his run on Detective Comics in issue #822. Sewer King made his delayed debut in 52 #25 (2006). Simon Trent, aka the Gray Ghost, was split between two characters: a teacher at Gotham Academy in Gotham Academy #4 (2015) and anarchist-turned-hero Clancy Johnson in Batgirl vol. 3 #9 (2010).
|The culmination of the DC Animated Universe: the Justice League.|
Probably the biggest legacy of the show was that it kicked off what would become known as the DC Animated Universe; alternatively known as the Timmverse. Batman became the first in a series of programs that all existed within the same relative universe, including Superman: The Animated Series, Batman Beyond, Static Shock, The Zeta Project, Justice League and Justice League Unlimited, as well as the web-series Gotham Girls. Most of the series’ cast, notably Conroy (until his death with the posthumously-released Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League) and Hamill (retiring multiple times, with the final time coming after Conroy’s death), continued on in their respective roles since the series ended in other shows, video games and direct-to-video movies. Sorkin would end her run as Harley Quinn with 2012’s DC Universe Online: The Last Laugh and Strong would become her primary voice in most appearances afterward while also reprising Batgirl often.
Originally published in 2016. Updated in 2023.