Batman: The Animated Series marks its 25th anniversary in September 2017. It’s time to pay homage to this classic that inspired a generation of cartoons.
I have really cool parents who let me see Tim Burton’s Batman (1989) in theaters when I was 9 years old. It was a lot darker than they expected, considering that they had been raised on the campy 1960s Batman with Adam West’s incarnation of the Bright Knight in the titular role and Cesar Romero’ s gleeful portrayal of Batman’s arch-nemesis the Joker. They certainly didn’t expect the gritty and, well, dark version of the Dark Knight that we saw in Tim Burton’s vision of Gotham City, but unbeknownst to them, Michael Keaton became my Batman and Jack Nicholson shall forever be my gold standard Joker.
Three years later, in 1992, Tim Burton’s Gotham City came to life on the small screen with the debut of Batman: The Animated Series. This time it was an animated incarnation with the incomparable Kevin Conroy voicing the Bat and the legendary Mark Hamill bringing the Joker to life.
Now I have two Batmans – the live action and the animated version. The cartoon was a lot like the movie – dark, with most scenes set against black backgrounds, giving the cartoon a Film Noir feel. Though I was 12 at the time it debuted, the cartoon wasn’t meant only for kids, and it has remained popular with people of all ages since it began.
One of the best things about Batman: The Animated Series is the presence of all of Batman’s female enemies. Catwoman. Poison Ivy. Harley Quinn. They were all a major part of the show and they were portrayed to be strong, badass and complicated villains. In fact, Harley Quinn made her debut on Batman: The Animated Series and she shot to instant stardom. 25 years later she’s still going strong and she’s also celebrating her 25th anniversary this month.
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It’s no wonder that with the universal appeal of Batman: The Animated Series there have been so many spinoffs that use the same look of Tim Burton’s classic, including full length animated features like the recently released Batman and Harley Quinn. Batman: The Animated Series is the benchmark for animated entries in the DC universe, and now that it’s available on streaming services like Netflix the show is finding a whole new audience with younger generations of fans.