Batman: The Animated Series is a landmark accomplishment in cartoon television. Twenty-five years ago, this superhero show took audiences by surprise and became one of the most beloved iterations of the Caped Crusader.
We got to talk to the cast and creators of the legendary series at New York Comic Con. There was one question that I felt needed their perspective: why does the show persevere and find new fans a quarter of a century later?
Faithful to the Comics
“We kind of looked back over the history of Batman… in the comics, movies, and the TV shows, and kind of picked things we liked about them,” said executive producer and showrunner Bruce Timm. He went on to talk about the team’s reverence for the entire history of Batman. “We tried to honor it. We tried to do it as faithfully but with a certain amount of freshness.” That sense of fealty to what was true about the character’s essence was integral to the entire creative team.
Producer Alan Burnett even simplified the answer. “We wanted the feel of a good comic book story on screen,” said Burnett. And considering that the show has lasted for twenty-five years, it looks like that attempt was a resounding success.
Doesn’t Pander to Kids
Another element that the creators feel is important is the show’s commitment to being a serious drama. “…the original team didn’t talk down to the audience. They tried to elevate the audience. They dealt with the audience as if they were intelligent adults,” said Batman/Bruce Wayne voice actor Kevin Conroy.
“I think… people were craving an animated series that was serious,” said Alan Burnett. And that serious approach has not aged a single day in twenty-five years.
A Prestige Production
More than anything, Batman: The Animated Series is still one of the most prestigious animated series in history. “It’s beautiful animation, it’s amazing acting and storytelling, and like anything that’s done really well, it just holds up,” said Batgirl voice actor Tara Strong.
Kevin Conroy echoed her sentiments. “The studio allowed them to spend a lot of money on animation, on a full symphony score… on hiring really interesting actors who weren’t the normal voice actors. They hired film actors [and] stage people.”
It’s clear that Batman: The Animated Series is going to still find audiences for decades to come. As it stands, no one can argue that it isn’t one of the best versions of Batman ever. And in this writer’s opinion, it IS the best.
Batman: The Animated Series will finally be coming to Blu-ray in 2018. We’ll keep you posted as soon as the exact release date is announced.