It seems like every few years, some creative fellow comes up with the idea to create an “original” animated Batman series.
Having said that, “The Batman” animated series which currently airs on Warner Bros.’ Kids’ WB, is nearly as good as any batman animated series I’ve ever seen – falling short of only, the highly original “Batman Beyond” – which also aired on the WB a few years back.
Although the series, which premiered in September of 2004, borrows many of the original elements from many previous Batman storylines, it does not follow the same continuity set by the comic book nor that of any previous Batman series.
The series has not been without its critics however. Many fans were upset that Batgirl was introduced into the series before Robin and many others, do not like the animation, which is described as being too similar to another former Kids’ WB animated series, Jackie Chan.
In the series, Batman meets most of his major adversaries for the first time, many with character designs that differ markedly from their comic-book counterparts.
Season one featured new interpretations of Rupert Thorne (Victor Brandt), The Joker (Kevin Michael Richardson), Catwoman (Gina Gershon), The Penguin (Tom Kenny), Mr. Freeze (Clancy Brown), Clayface (Steve Harris), Firefly (Jason Marsden), The Ventriloquist and Scarface (Dan Castellaneta), Man-Bat (Peter MacNicol), Cluemaster (Glenn Shadix), and Bane (Joaquim de Almeida). The first season also introduces two new characters, Detectives Ethan Bennett (Steve Harris) and Ellen Yin (Ming-Na), charged with capturing the vigilante Batman.
Season two introduced other fan favorites with brand new origins, including a sinister version of The Riddler (Robert Englund), Professor Hugo Strange (the late Frank Gorshin, replaced by Richard Green after Frank’s death), Ragdoll (Jeff Bennett), Spellbinder (Michael Massee) , Killer Croc (Ron Perlman), and Solomon Grundy (Kevin Grevioux), who was actually Clayface in disguise. At the end of the season, Ellen Yin is found out to have been working with Batman an the partnership ends. Comissioner Gordon (Mitch Pileggi) is introduced and changes the GCPD’s view of Batman as well as telling him to make Gotham a safe place for his daughter.
Season three introduced more new villains to the series, such as Poison Ivy (Piera Coppola), Cosmo Krank (Patton Oswalt), D.A.V.E (Jeff Bennett), Gearhead (Will Friedle), Maxie Zeus (Phil LaMarr), Prank (Michael Reisz), and Temblor (Jim Cummings). The season also features a young Barbara Gordon, who becomes Batgirl (Danielle Judovits).
Season four, premiering this fall, will introduce Robin. New villains being introduced will be Black Mask, Harley Quinn, Killer Moth,Everywhere Man and Clayface/Matt Hagen. It has been revealed that Robin (Evan Sabara) will be Dick Grayson, Riddler’s past will be explored, Penguin will have his own Injustice Gang and Batman will team-up with another JLA member.
The series received the Annie Award for Best New Animated Television Show in 2004 and in 2006, The Batman won two Daytime Emmy awards. One for Outstanding Achievement In Sound Editing and another for Outstanding Special Class Animated Program.
Now, I go all the way back to watching the original Batman television show starring Adam West and have seen nearly every Batman film or animated series to ever air and I have to say that as far as animated series’ are concerned, this series, in my estimation, is once again, topped only by Batman Beyond.
It is certainly a family favorite in the Williams household every Saturday morning and I’m sure if your children watch the show too, you may one day find yourself becoming a fan yourself.