Think back, long ago, to Saturday mornings where school was not on the agenda, homework could obviously wait until Sunday night and there was the joy of getting up early to watch cartoons. Everyone has their favourites of course, and the old BBC vs ITV debate always has their contenders ready to do battle – but at least for me, one cartoon stood out above all others – Batman: The Animated Series.
Originally airing from 1992 to 1995, it felt to me like the best adaptation of Batman onto screen and is simply one of the greatest animated shows of all time. Despite being a children’s show, it kept true to the dark tone of Batman and maintained a high artistic quality with complex stories sometimes spanning multiple episodes.
Influenced by Tim Burton’s excellent movies Batman(1989) and Batman Returns(1992) the animated series even took a variation of the theme from the film, created by Danny Elfman. It also didn’t shy away from open, physical violence between criminals, heroes and victims and realistic firearms with some stories being driven by the core theme of gun violence and its consequences.
Coupled with the film noir aesthetics (an unusual choice at the time for a cartoon), we were gifted with the incredible voice talents of the mighty Kevin Conroy as Batman/Bruce Wayne and the delightfully despicable Mark Hamill as The Joker. Since the series, they have both become synonymous with those iconic characters – playing them in multiple spin-off series, feature films and video games.
I’ll always remember the series fondly, and recommend it to anyone as a timeless classic, a chance to see a darker Gotham and a times, a much darker Batman.