No one needs an introduction to Batman. The DC Comics icon has been a mainstay in pop culture since 1939. But ahead of the character's reboot in the 2021 movie The Batman starring Robert Pattinson, the film's screenwriter revealed that they were inspired by one of the most popular and beloved versions of the Caped Crusader, and he may have spilled a few details in the process.
On April 25, The Batman screenwriter Mattson Tomlin responded to a fan who asked the writer about his creative inspirations for the movie. Tomlin replied, "I can’t safely add much other than what Matt has already put out there, but I will say that it gave me a great excuse to rewatch The Animated Series and literally triple my already heavy comic book collection."
The Animated Series Tomlin is talking about is the animated shows to end all animated shows: Batman: The Animated Series, the Emmy Award-winning TV series that aired on FOX Kids in the early 1990s.
The show, which eschewed children's cartoon trends at the time for darker stories that relished Batman's noir roots, starred Kevin Conroy as the voice of Bruce Wayne/Batman and Star Wars icon Mark Hamill as his nemesis, the Joker. The show adapted a number of Batman comic book stories while also inventing new lore that's become everlasting to Bat-canon, such as the origins of Mr. Freeze and the introduction of Harley Quinn.
To this day, years after it was pulled from the airwaves, The Animated Series is still remembered as one of "the best Batman ever" and regularly ranks as one of the best animated shows of all time. The cult popularity of The Animated Series enabled the casting of Conroy and Hamill for the best-selling Batman: Arkham video games, further cementing the unending legacy of the series.
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What this means for The Batman (2021)
While so much of The Batman is still under wraps, we know enough that the film will feature a noir version of Batman more pronounced than previous iterations.
While actor Jeffrey Wright reads comics from the 1930s, Matt Reeves dresses Robert Pattinson in Batman: Year One cosplay, the fact that the movie's screenwriter had an "excuse" to rewatch Batman: The Animated Series hints The Batman won't shy away from Batman's sillier elements just as much as it won't make a farce out of them. Colin Farrell may look like a grotesque human penguin, but that doesn't mean Penguin is to be dismissed as cartoonish.
The Inverse Analysis — Of all the Batman media out there for Tomlin to research, Batman: The Animated Series is easily one of the best resources. The cartoon, which was still made for kids and had an appropriate amount of merchandise marketing within its episodes, is one of the rare examples of an intriguing Batman made for all ages. The show appealed to kids just as much as it did to adults, who appreciated the very human dimensions The Animated Series afforded its characters.
Batman: The Animated Series really had it all, from style (its distinct art deco style is a character in its own right) to story (some of the character's most memorable moments come from this show). Whether The Batman takes a little or a lot from Batman: The Animated Series, that it's taking after it at all is something to be celebrated.
The Batman will be released in theaters on October 5, 2021.