I’ve been reminded by a couple of different outlets on the internet that on this day, 27 years ago, Batman: The Animated Series made its debut on the Fox television network.
Yes, I have always been a shameless fan of all things Superman. But at this time, late summer of 1992, we were riding a wave of Batman popularity. 1989 saw Batman on the big screen and 1992 brought a sequel in Batman Returns.
The dark tone of Tim Burton’s films likely helped to influence the tone that the new animated show would adopt. While, yes, a cartoon that airs five days a week in an after school time slot is aimed at kids, it didn’t dumb down the Dark Knight in a way that made the character ridiculous.
The show was developed by Bruce Timm and Eric Radomski and marked the beginning of a shared DC animated universe that would eventually introduce Superman and the rest of the Justice League.
Bruce Wayne/Batman was given voice by Kevin Conroy. Ask any kid who grew up in the 90s and they’ll likely tell you that the voice of Batman that they hear in their head is the voice of Kevin Conroy. His take on the Caped Crusader is so popular that he has continued to lend his voice to the role off and on for the entirety of the past 27 years.
In fact, he will finally play Bruce Wayne in a live action capacity in the upcoming Arrowverse crossover, “Crisis on Infinite Earths.”
Another popular vocal that spun out of this show is Mark Hamill’s Joker. Again… whenever I hear the voice of the Joker in my head, it’s Mark Hamill that’s doing the talking.
Calm down. When I say I hear Batman or the Joker’s voices in my head, it’s not a schizophrenic thing. I mean when I pick up a comic book and read those little speech bubbles.
Batman: The Animated Series also introduced the world to Harley Quinn, the Joker’s special lady friend whose popularity has been steadily growing ever since her introduction in an episode titled “Joker’s Favor.”
This is a show that I never missed when I got home from school. As I stated earlier, the writers did not dumb down the content just because it was aimed at kids. They took the Batman’s adventures seriously and gave weight to the things that happened in each 30 minute episode. Between Batman’s choices and his adversaries’ actions, a kid could easily grasp that there are always consequences, both positive and negative, to the things we do.
Unlike a lot of cartoons that I used to watch as a kid (He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, ThunderCats, etc.), I can still watch Batman: The Animated Series as an adult and respect the show. Watching some of those other old cartoons makes me question my ability to judge quality entertainment as a child. Batman is different. It’s a cartoon that remains timeless and relevant, all these years later.
If you’ve never had a chance to experience Batman: The Animated Series, find a way to check it out. It’s available to watch on the DC Universe streaming platform, but can also be found on Blu Ray and DVD. Maybe even VHS if you look hard enough. It’s a show that’s gone down in history as one of the best (if not the best) animated shows of all time.