Holy Bat Show

Amazon’s New Batman Show Looks Like A Perfect Bat-Blend Of Dark Knight Eras

Batman: Caped Crusader feels like a return to form.

Batman stands heroically in front of glowing red "HAHA" sign in a dark, neon-lit cityscape.
Prime Video

In 1992, when Bruce Timm helped launch Batman: The Animated Series, a new template for how we all imagined the Dark Knight was born. With its gothic aesthetic and a moody Bruce Wayne (Kevin Conroy), this take on the beloved vigilante managed to capture the goofiness and genuine darkness of Batman like no other onscreen versions before or since. And now, with the impending launch of Prime Video’s new animated series, Batman: Caped Crusader, Timm has largely brought back the vibe of the ‘90s Batman, but has expertly blended it with a few other influences, too.

Prime Video has dropped the first full-length trailer for Batman: Caped Crusader and this series looks like it's taking equal inspiration from the 1987 comic Batman: Year One, and the classic animated series too.

Set in a dreamily anachronistic 1940-ish past, Batman: Caped Crusader seems to intentionally pay homage to Frank Miller’s Batman: Year One, by introducing us to the earliest days of Batman arriving on the scene in Gotham City. The cops think of him as a criminal and the citizens seem fed up with him, too. Alfred doesn’t have grey hair yet, and Batman (Hamish Linklater) is doing a fairly close impression of what Kevin Conroy would have sounded like in some kind of prequel.

The trailer gives us pretty much every villain from Batman’s famous rogue’s gallery — from Two-Face to the Penguin — but focuses on Harley Quinn instead of the Joker. We also see Catwoman (Christina Ricci) rocking a cape, which is in line with her 1940s look in the “Golden Age” of DC comics. Batman fights with a sword at one point and is trying to stop an all-out gang takeover, populated by various mobsters. With batarangs getting wrapped around Tommy guns, the vintage elements of the trailer clearly reference past versions of Batman but also evoke the same kind of retrofuturism found in films like Sky Captain (2004) and The Rocketeer (1991). This isn’t your parents’ Batman, or even your grandparents’ Batman. This is a mash-up version of all of those past Batmans.

Catwoman gets a classic look back in Batman: Caped Crusader.

Prime Video

Because the series is produced by Bruce Timm, in collaboration with J.J. Abrams and the director of The Batman (2022), Matt Reeves, it feels like this new animated series might be a reboot the character has needed for a while. The trailer is simple, thrilling, and familiar. And yet, because of the way it all looks and feels, we can’t wait to see what happens next, even if we already have a fairly good idea of how it plays out. Not all prequels and reboots have to make a big deal of being prequels and reboots. Hopeful, Batman: Caped Crusader proves one old adage true about classic superheroes: If it ain't Bat-broke, don’t Bat-fix-it.

Batman: Caped Crusader hits Prime Video on August 1, 2024.

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