If we had to name DC’s most recognizable superhero, it would have to be Batman. He is not only popular but also profitable, as evidenced by the numerous projects based on the caped crusader, ranging from films to animated shows.
Many animated shows have attempted to extract the best elements from comic book lore, while others have created their own unique storylines. Fans and critics alike have given high marks to some of these shows. Others have been fairly average, but they have all contributed to the canon of Batman and his crime-fighting exploits.
We have included clips from some of the best-animated shows based on Batman in one video. There are a few honorary mentions of episodes that featured Batman alongside other heroes, in addition to the shows dedicated completely to Batman. So buckle up as we take you on a brief tour of the animated world’s numerous interpretations of the mysterious Dark Knight.
Batman: The Animated Series (1992–95)
This series followed the grand success of Tim Burton’s ‘Batman’, and creators were looking to exploit comic book adaptations to appeal to the fans. Many people who appreciate the brilliance of Christopher Nolan’s ‘Batman’ trilogy are unaware of the fact that such budgetary allowances wouldn’t be possible without the craze that was building through the 90s.
‘Batman: The Animated Series’ had quite a successful run for three years with 85 episodes. The creators did borrow heavily from Tim Burton’s version of Batman, but the contributions of the likes of Bruce Timm and Paul Dini are unquestionable. In fact, Bruce later went on to be an icon in the animated business.
The fans loved the futuristic designs for this one and the introduction of unreal but cool stuff like the police airships made things incredibly stylish. Such details added to the uncanny ambiance of Gotham, and the storytelling was just perfect. It was appealing to kids and also had mature content to make things interesting for adults.
‘Batman: The Animated Series’ strayed from the unnecessary flamboyance and corny, educational narrative. Instead, the creators put in the effort to have interesting characters and focused entirely on the story, without making it moral responsibility.
Every important character has a solid backstory, and even the minor characters have enough screen time. For instance, we see a lot of Commissioner Gordon, which establishes his importance as Batman’s trusted ally. The same goes for the likes of Robin and Batgirl, and somewhere down the line, these characters are more than just sidekicks.
If the heroes are gallant, the villains are not much far behind. Joker, in particular, steals the show in some of the episodes. The show introduced a new villain, Harley Quinn, who became so popular that she found her way into the comics soon after. Mark Hamill nails the voice acting for Joker, and even Kevin Conroy as Batman is a nice fit.
The animation was simply fantastic, and the makers successfully perfected the dark and fluid atmosphere of the show. The show did explore some of the toughest villains that Batman had to deal with, but some of them were vastly underused. Bane is one of the lesser-used villains, and it would have been fun to see more of him.
Aside from Joker, Mr. Freeze was another baddie who entertained the fans big time. To top it all, the show also had one of the best theme tunes by Danny Elfman, and the overall background score had the finesse to compliment the narrative. We are not surprised at all that this show managed to stand the test of time, and is still as enjoyable today as it used to be back then!
Batman Beyond (1999-2001)
We love ‘Batman Beyond’ for possibly one of the most unique Batman stories of them all. For starters, the series is premised in a futuristic Gotham City in the year 2039. Bruce Wayne is an old man, who needs a walking stick to move around. It is suggested that he is around 80, but the WB network did not allow his real age to be revealed because they did not want him to be shown as old and decrepit.
Clearly, he is no longer the crime-fighter that he used to be! He lives a quiet life with his dog Ace, and someone young and enthusiastic must take up the suit. The new guy is sixteen-year-old Terry McGinnis, who has a tragic past as well. It almost seems like suffering a tragedy is a prerequisite for working with Batman!
His father was killed by a corrupt corporate guy, and the thirst for revenge drives him to take up the high-tech batsuit. After a chance encounter with Terry, Bruce decides to be his mentor and train him to be the new Batman. Terry is helped by some of his friends and Ace, the wonderful dog.
‘Batman Beyond’ ran for three seasons straight, and throughout its runtime it never ran out of steam to entertain the viewers. There was never a dearth of exciting villains, and a lot of them had never been seen before. Among the hordes of new villains, Inque was simply awesome. This shape-shifting antagonist was a great opponent, but unfortunately, her antics only lasted for a few episodes.
Stalker was another charismatic villain, who eventually transformed into a good guy. We also had some tragic villains like Charlie, who was a friend of Terry’s before he became Batman. Besides the new lot, there are also some old foes who appear on this show. There is an excellent story involving Mr. Freeze that you simply cannot miss out on. We get to see an old Bane, and while Joker is not in the mix of things, his twisted legacy lives on. There is also a biker gang that calls themselves the Jokerz.
‘Batman Beyond’ is easily one of the most ambitious Batman projects, and the intelligent work with the script made the idea take off. There are some unforgettable fight sequences and the animation work is brilliant as usual. Kevin Conroy continues to amaze as Batman, and the new crop of voice-actors filling in for the new roles are equally impressive. For many, this is the best Batman show ever! But even if you debate that, you have to agree that this is the most innovative one!
The New Batman Adventures (1997-99)
This series is a continuation of the 90s ‘Batman: The Animated Series and it was also created by Bruce Timm and Paul Dini, the duo associated with the previous one. Bruce Wayne still continues his fight against the scum of Gotham City.
In his crime-fighting mission, he is aided by the likes of Jim Gordon, Alfred, and Batgirl. Robin has quit the services, and Bruce recruits a young boy named Tim Drake to be the new Robin. Even the old Robin returns as the Nightwing, and now, the crime-fighting team is larger than ever. Batman has to fight some terrific villains like Joker, Harley Quinn, Riddler, Mr. Freeze, and many others.
You can tell from the looks of it that this is an incredibly action-packed Batman series. However, it has to be said that this series doesn’t quite live up to the standards of its predecessor. That being said, it is still a worthy addition to the DC Animated Universe, and it does retain the blend of action, comedy, and drama, that we enjoyed in the original series.
There are some intense action sequences, and the quality of the animation does not disappoint. The writing is still very impressive, and we loved how they explored the various characters in the show. The sidekicks get a lot more important, and Batman often takes a sidestep to allow the focus on these characters.
The introduction of some new villains like Roxy Rocket, the Judge, etc. is an interesting move and adds more crooks for Batman to fight. Dick Grayson’s reborn identity as the Nightwing is a refreshing change, and it makes up for the disappointment that some might feel because of the new version of Robin.
There are moments of comic relief that will be appreciated by the viewers in the middle of such serious storytelling. One of the greatest strengths of ‘Batman: The Animated Series, was the amazing voice-acting quality. They keep up with the good work because the likes of Kevin Conroy, Mark Hamill, and Bob Hastings are remarkable as always.
If we could change one thing about this series, or rather not change it, it would be the new designs for Joker, Riddler, and a few others. Personally, we liked the old designs better! The brightness of the show sometimes disturbs the dark and haunting atmosphere that we usually associate with Gotham City. Despite such minor shortcomings, the series is still a must-watch, and some of the episodes will certainly make it worth your time!
The Batman (2004-08)
You all remember ‘Batman: The Animated Series for the gritty and intelligent storytelling. ‘The Batman’ tried to include some fun bits as well while maintaining the darker aspects of the narrative. It would be unfair to say that they never struck the right balance, but at times they end result did not end up as pleasant as expected.
The story traces the journey of a young Bruce Wayne, who struggles to balance his carefree life as a billionaire and a crime-fighting crusader. The Caped Crusader is joined by the likes of Robin and Batgirl as they confront some familiar villains and some new ones!
The standards of the show kept falling with each season and that wasn’t a pretty sight. The first season was decent and the second one got better, but since the third season, the show entered a freefall. The show is very different from the usual Batman series that you have seen so far, and many of the die-hard fans will not be too happy with that. The show could have been a lot better with better storylines.
The clichés certainly don’t help, and we don’t know a single person who liked the way Joker was presented. Joker looked more like an alien than a crazy clown, and the designs are to be blamed for that. The voice acting is not very convincing, and Rino Romano as Batman is a pale shadow of the dark and brooding persona that Kevin Conroy captured. There are some things that ‘The Batman’ successfully achieved and one of them would have to be the clever usage of some forgotten characters.
The portrayal of Firefly in ‘The Batman’ for instance, was something we loved, and there were some excellent action scenes to add to his presence. Catwoman, in this series, was alluring and manipulative like she should be, and Poison Ivy was an interesting addition in the mix of things.
The animation quality is up to the mark, and the show has been purposely made bright and colorful. We may not have liked the radical makeover given to Riddler and Joker, but some new villains like Black Mask and Dr. Hugo Strange did not disappoint. If you keep the criticisms and comparisons aside, this is still an enjoyable and complicated Batman show that you might acquire a taste for!
Batman: The Brave and The Bold (2008-11)
The Dark Knight finally gets a reprieve and he doesn’t have to be so darn serious anymore! Well, if you have been following a vast majority of Batman stories, they all show him as a troubled vigilante who is struggling with his own inner demons. There is an air of seriousness surrounding the narrative and more often than not you have a dark theme presiding over the movie or show.
This time, however, Batman is a more colorful character, who resorts to puns just as much as his best fighting tools. While the show portrays a lighter side of Batman, it also takes away some of his solitary working methods. For instance, on many occasions, he gets help from other superheroes, and there is a constant supply of baddies for him to take down. The likes of Green Arrow, Blue Beetle, and Aquaman help him uphold justice in Gotham and that certainly makes things easier.
This Batman series was intended to be more kid-friendly than some of the others, and it does succeed in its quest. There is some cartoonish violence, but nothing that makes you sit back and introspect all the things you did wrong in your life! Even though it lacks the usual darkness and sophistication of Batman, the fun and colorful representation is refreshing.
There are some interesting plots and this series is a fitting tribute to the Silver Age of comics. It embraces the campy silliness but also infuses that with some clever scripts. ‘The Brave and the Bold’ does go retro in many ways – you get to see the Flash and Green Arrow of the earlier days. The voice-acting is vibrant and quite suited for the overall nature of this show. There are way too many characters, but that can be fun for the viewers.
In almost every episode, Batman teams up with some new guy from the DC Comics universe, and most of them are exciting to watch. We did not like the interpretation of the Joker or Martian Manhunter, but these opinions can vary from one person to another. Our final verdict would be to try it out if you are game for a change. Somewhere, we love the dark and serious nature of Batman, and if you want it preserved, this is not the show for you!
The Adventures Of Batman (1968-69)
We have to turn back the clock a bit longer for this one because this is probably the oldest animated stint with Batman. ‘The Adventures of Batman’ embraces the campy and fun bits of the Batman universe, and the nearest parallel that we can draw would be ‘Batman: The Brave and the Bold’.
The funny cast syncs nicely with the overall idea, but the animation techniques couldn’t quite handle the responsibility. As a result, we ended up with a somewhat bland series of Batman’s adventures that aren’t remembered by many. It takes the usual plot of billionaire Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson as they fight crime as Batman and Robin. They are assisted by the likes of Alfred, Commissioner Gordon, and his daughter Barbara, who is secretly Batgirl.
The show could have turned out very differently with the better portrayal of the villains. The story largely focuses on four baddies, the Joker, Riddler, Penguin, and Catwoman, and they simply do not have enough spunk to intimidate the audience. There are brief appearances of Mr. Freeze and Dollman, but they hardly make much of a difference.
The Riddler’s riddles simply weren’t tricky enough, and the Joker surrendered a bit too easily at times. We have already spoken about the poor animation quality, but that can hardly be blamed given that we are talking about the 60s! This is not Filmation’s best work by any standards, and the work seems awfully dated as of today. With all due respect, we would have to advise you against this one unless you are a hardcore fan or have some good old memories associated with this relic!
Beware The Batman (2013)
It would be wrong of us to suggest that this is one of the darkest and most definitive representations of Batman stories because that title is kind of reserved for ‘Batman: The Animated Series. However, ‘Beware the Batman’ is undoubtedly very mature for a children’s cartoon show.
Many important characters are killed off, and we often get a close glimpse of Batman’s shattered psyche. For the first half of the show, the makers set up the character dynamics quite well, and several villains are introduced, including the League of Assassins. The die-hard fans of Batman will love the approach that has been adopted to portray the vigilante hero.
He is shown to be cold and calculative, someone who always anticipates the enemy’s next move. Alfred is an ex-CIA agent, and his help is more substantial than a mere butler. Batman is also helped by a lethal swordswoman Katana. The main villains encountered in this series are Anarky, Professor Pyg, Magpie, and Mister Toad.
This show will be remembered for its stunning aesthetics. It is animated in 3D and the computer-generated graphics are quite impressive. The shots feel somewhat cinematic and the dynamic lighting makes for an enhanced experience. There is a nice play of light and shadows that adds to the mystical appearance of Batman.
We were also in love with some stunning technical effects; the smoke and fire seemed so real that the show stands out among the other animated projects on Batman. If the animation quality wasn’t positive enough, the makers also focused on world-building to make things visually appealing.
There are some unforgettable action-packed moments, and after the first few episodes they also bring in the set pieces so that it doesn’t look like Batman is defending an empty Gotham City. A true series never lacks continuity, and this Batman show does a fabulous job of carrying forward stories that emerge from an episode. Another shining moment for this Batman series is the sound quality and voice acting.
Anthony Ruivivar may be no Kevin Conroy, but his version of Batman is no less impressive. Alfred has a greater role in this narrative and Alfred’s voice actor J.B Blanc is another instance of good casting. ‘Beware the Batman’ is criminally underrated, and if you love Batman you owe it to yourself to give this a try!
The New Adventures Of Batman (1977-78)
The show premiered on CBS and had a brief run of only sixteen episodes. If we are being brutally honest, this show doesn’t stand a chance in comparison with some of the others in the list. It never had a significant fan following and given the quality of the content, it is only fair. What made things worse was the introduction of some really stupid characters, such as Bat-Mite.
This tiny entity from a magical dimension is obsessed with Batman and acts as his sidekick. The story lacks proper balance, and there are times when Bat-Mite becomes the focus as the lead character.
It was a character that was intended to appeal to children, but it pleased neither them nor the adults watching the show. They used Batgirl sparingly, and the ridiculous storylines did not help the misuse of characters. Most of the episodes featured battles with the usual villains of Gotham City, such as the Joker, Penguin, Catwoman, and Mr. Freeze.
Throughout the sixteen episodes, the show suffered from lame scripts and cheap animation. It was an awful representation of the glorious Batman lore and even the hardened fans look past this one.
Filmation worked on this series, but it is certainly not one of their proud moments. The only shining bits in the show were Adam West as Batman, and the other voice actors were not too far behind. The idea of providing comic relief through Bat-Mite clearly did not strike a chord with the audience. The Joker is almost irritating after a point because his ridiculous laughter can be heard after almost every sentence he speaks. It doesn’t help that Robin has been presented as a complete dork.
The fast-paced stories could have been a lot better if they did not plunge it into such meaninglessness! Unless you are compelled by some pathetic sense of fanboy obligation, it is best that you forget this show even exists!
There are a few shows that did not solely revolve around Batman, but the Caped Crusader played an important role nonetheless. Batman fans out there will certainly enjoy the following shows that usually put him alongside other DC superheroes to take down villainous forces.
DC fans did not miss out on this gem of a show, that had the team of the most formidable heroes fight evil together. Batman had a crucial role to play, and what made things even better was Kevin Conroy as the voice behind the masked vigilante. His equation with Superman, his reluctance to work in a group, and his overall arrogance made it a perfect Batman. There were moments when Batman saved the day with his brilliance, and there were several instances where he was the only one who could see through conspiracies hatched against them.
Bruce Timm and his team of experts helped in developing the show, and it is no surprise that the show was loved and appreciated widely. The production values are impeccable and besides the amazing Batman, there were some other kickass heroes to help the cause. We liked Superman, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, and even J’onn J’onzz was surprisingly good. There are lots of fights, drama, and suspense throughout the narrative, and the good dose of Batman will make this a favorite for all the Batman fans out there.
Young Justice, just like the name suggests, is a young team of teenage superheroes, who help out the Justice League. It ran for four seasons and it was fun to see the young sidekicks push for permanent membership.
They are always working to prove their credentials as valuable members of the organization, and very soon, they would have to fight their own battles against the forces of evil. This show is not about Batman, but he does have a few important appearances. Bruce Greenwood did a decent job with the responsibility, and he is sufficiently dark and brooding.
‘Young Justice’ scores a few points in terms of writing, and the dialogues are particularly thought-provoking. It is a character-driven show, and there is plenty to save the day. It might feature second-tier DC heroes, but it still works wonders. Each episode adds something unique to every character, and it is packed with engaging stories that keep up your interest.
If we could change one thing about this amazing show, it would be the third season that ended up being somewhat boring for our taste. If you want a taste of a decent show with Batman in it, but one that is not entirely about him, ‘Young Justice’ might be a pleasant surprise for you!
Batman has entertained millions, and we are certain that the future holds some more promising projects that will thrill and entertain us yet again. Till then, there is always a vast wealth of largely untapped Batman content that you can enjoy!