I am vengeance! I am the night! I AM BATMAN!
October 6, 2017 7:47 AM   Subscribe

 
Totally makes sense that Mark Hamill was a huge comic-book fan who read the fan press. Also:

MH: I went in and I just let my geek flag fly. I was asking them all these questions: Are you going to do Ra’s al Ghul? Are you going to do Dr. Hugo Strange?”
posted by Foci for Analysis at 8:04 AM on October 6 [8 favorites]


I had worked on a bunch of action-adventure shows for TV before, and every single one of them, I thought, was overdesigned. They were trying to impress people with the amount of detail. On G.I. Joe, especially, it wasn’t enough just to draw a belt on a character, the belt had seams and buttons and snaps and pockets. There’s no good reason to draw every shoelace on a shoe. Just make it a simple shape.
This was also fucking true of certain comic AHEM artists who AHEM popular in the 90's.

It does underline just how thoughtful and innovative and march-to-their-own-talented-beat B:TAS was. And the stories are delightful. Mark Hamill drawing his inspiration for the Joker laugh from his role as Mozart in Amadeus! Kevin Conroy being asked to do the Batman voice on the street! The fact that Heart of Ice was in the first freaking season! The invention of Harley Quinn eight episodes after that! The decisions on how to tell Robin's backstory without showing on-screen death!

Also, I'd forgotten there were 65 episodes in the first season. That's. A lot of episodes.
posted by joyceanmachine at 8:06 AM on October 6 [8 favorites]


I wasn't going to play Arkham Asylum. Then I learned that the voice cast included Kevin Conroy, Mark Hamill, and Arleen Sorkin, and within minutes a copy magically appeared in my Steam account.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:13 AM on October 6 [10 favorites]


I remember my overwhelming outrage at the Christian Bale Batman and the horrors it entailed. I was somewhat inarticulately raging about how very much he sucked as Batman and how it was just awful all the way through. One of my friends asked me which Batman was the "right" one then, and the first thing that popped into my mind was the B: TAS Batman.

The minute I read this from Kevin Conroy, I almost yelled aloud, "YES!!"

That was the time I realized fully that you can’t fake Batman. You can’t just make a deep, husky sound with your voice. You have to base it in the pain of his childhood each time or it doesn’t sound right.

That's what Bale was missing. It's not enough to sound like you need a lozenge, but you actually have to be able to transmit the pain that is inherent to Batman. You can't fake that shit.
posted by teleri025 at 8:18 AM on October 6 [11 favorites]


The Batman TAS intro music is still my canonical Batman theme tune.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 8:23 AM on October 6 [7 favorites]


It's also a masterful intro because it completely sets up who Batman is within 60 seconds, with zero text or narration. There's a giant city. There's bank robbers. Batman has a jet-car. He can beat two armed opponents single-handed. Then he leaves them for the police and buggers off to stand on a skyscraper and look moody.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 8:26 AM on October 6 [19 favorites]


Conroy's Bat-voice was that of a Dad, a really good Dad that you trusted to know what to do. A total stranger would follow Conroy's Batman down a dark alley.

Christian Bale's Batman, not so much. (No fault to Bale, in my opinion; his Batman is just a different take on the character.)
posted by SPrintF at 8:26 AM on October 6 [2 favorites]


Conroy's explanation of Batman being the true identity and Bruce Wayne being the persona is perfect. Bale does something weird where his true persona is neither Batman nor trust fund kid Bruce Wayne. If Bale's Batman were the prime personality, then every scene in the various bat caves would be him still wearing the suit. Think of the ballistics sequence in Dark Knight which is just Bruce Wayne, smart guy, and Alfred working together.
posted by aureliobuendia at 8:34 AM on October 6 [6 favorites]


I'm looking through the list of B:TAS episodes now, and it's kinda remarkable how many of the major, world-shaping narratives of my teenage years were B:TAS episodes -- the one where Harley gets tired of Mr. J's abuse and teams up with Poison Ivy, and they're the crime queens of Gotham until Harley goes back to Mr. J. The story where a Nice Man (tm) feels entitled to the love of a pretty girl because he has put in enough niceness coins, and when she's horrified by his creepiness, he kidnaps her and brainwashes her. The story about how Poison Ivy both wants to go straight, and doesn't, and how hard redemption can be. The weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeird story about how Selina Kyle getting turned into an actual cat woman by a mad scientist, so that she can be the mate for his tiger-human hybrid, and how that tiger-human hybrid lets Selina walk away at the end, giving her the antidote, even though it means loneliness for him.

That last was my introduction to William Blake. The title of the episode, after all, is Tyger, Tyger. And years later, I was at Yale, looking at actual, original, painted-by-Blake-himself watercolors for the Songs of Innocence.

I mean, it sounds silly, but shit, those episodes were fundamental in reshaping what a story could be for me. What they could be. The things they could do. The emotions they could make people feel.

They've certainly held up a lot better than Anne McCaffrey.
posted by joyceanmachine at 8:40 AM on October 6 [21 favorites]


Bruce Wayne: [presenting a "Gray Ghost" video to Trent] Could you make it out to Bruce?
Simon Trent: [signing the video] Here you go, Bruce!
[Wayne starts to leaves, then turns and looks at Trent]
Bruce Wayne: You know, as a child I used to watch it with my father. The Gray Ghost was my hero.
Simon Trent: Really?
Bruce Wayne: [quietly to Trent, in a familiar tone] ... and he still is.
I always get choked up at this episode. Even Batman had a Batman in his childhood.
posted by Fizz at 8:43 AM on October 6 [20 favorites]


It's also a masterful intro because it completely sets up who Batman is within 60 seconds, with zero text or narration. There's a giant city. There's bank robbers. Batman has a jet-car. He can beat two armed opponents single-handed. Then he leaves them for the police and buggers off to stand on a skyscraper and look moody.

It also breaks a cardinal rule of intros (tell people the title of the show) and yet you never notice, because it does its job very well.
posted by NoxAeternum at 8:44 AM on October 6 [9 favorites]


Conroy's explanation of Batman being the true identity and Bruce Wayne being the persona is perfect.

Or to phrase it like in The Lego Batman Movie, Batman doesn't live in Bruce Wayne's basement, Bruce Wayne lives in Batman's attic.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 8:56 AM on October 6 [18 favorites]


> It also breaks a cardinal rule of intros (tell people the title of the show) and yet you never notice, because it does its job very well.

Also because it's Batman.
posted by ardgedee at 9:11 AM on October 6 [2 favorites]


Even Batman had a Batman in his childhood.

Whoever first thought of Adam West (who for all I know was Conroy's Batman as well) for the part is a goddamned genius.
posted by zombieflanders at 9:13 AM on October 6 [12 favorites]


Conroy's explanation of Batman being the true identity and Bruce Wayne being the persona is perfect. Bale does something weird where his true persona is neither Batman nor trust fund kid Bruce Wayne. If Bale's Batman were the prime personality, then every scene in the various bat caves would be him still wearing the suit. Think of the ballistics sequence in Dark Knight which is just Bruce Wayne, smart guy, and Alfred working together.

The same is true in the Michael Keaton Batman films. That's because the Burton/Nolan movies were made to suit a film industry that was still laboring under the delusion that audiences want to see the lead actor's face as much as possible. But in animation, the only stars are the voice talents, so the filmmakers can leave that mask on as long as they want.
posted by Strange Interlude at 9:20 AM on October 6 [1 favorite]


That's because the Burton/Nolan movies were made to suit a film industry that was still laboring under the delusion that audiences want to see the lead actor's face as much as possible.

And I'm not imaging a Gollum/Andy-Serkis style Batman and how wonderful that would be.
posted by Fizz at 9:28 AM on October 6 [1 favorite]


*now
posted by Fizz at 9:38 AM on October 6


That's what's so infuriating about Warner Bros.'s approach to its DC films. Well, when of the many, many infuriating things: the DCAU started by B:TAS is nearly universally beloved and praised. A generation + was raised on it and know it intimately. WB had the perfect template for making amazing DC movies, yet decided to go with All The Problems of Early 90s Comics: The Movie.

Conroy's explanation of Batman being the true identity and Bruce Wayne being the persona is perfect. Bale does something weird where his true persona is neither Batman nor trust fund kid Bruce Wayne. If Bale's Batman were the prime personality, then every scene in the various bat caves would be him still wearing the suit.

There's a great scene in Batman Beyond about this
. (If you're not familiar, Batman Beyond is set in a future Gotham where an elderly Bruce Wayne mentors a new Batman). The set-up here is that a villain who can manipulate sound tried to drive Bruce insane by making him hear voices; this clip is from the end after they've stopped the bad guy.
posted by Sangermaine at 10:02 AM on October 6 [13 favorites]


I introduced my son to the series in August. He complained that the animation looked strange and said he didn't want to watch. I replied, "just watch the first episode with me." We binge-watched 4 episodes at once. It's a fantastic show. When we're done with TAS, I'll start him on Batman Beyond, and see what he thinks of it.

Andrea Romano (voice director): The backgrounds were created very differently: They were done on black paper, which gave it that very dark style. Nothing had been that dark.

The Superman cartoon was done on white paper. The contrast between them (no pun intended) was wonderful. Superman is a hopeful, fun and almost uplifting show, shown in bright sunny days. Batman is dark, grim and moody. All blacks, grays, reds, dark blues and oranges.
posted by zarq at 10:07 AM on October 6 [4 favorites]


The art redesign ruined the show. They had three assets going for them- gorgeous art, strong cast, and good writing. I will never understand the decision to throw one of those away.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:10 AM on October 6 [1 favorite]


How Mark Hamill got the role: PD: I remember listening to his audition, and when he did the laugh, I said, “That’s it. That’s just it.” The laugh was cruel, it was funny, there was an undercurrent of terrible sadness to it. It was a laugh from a destroyed soul.

Yes. Yes, exactly!

And this:

KC: Luke Skywalker is the nice, young leading man, and most times in films, that’s probably the least interesting character in a film. Well, Mark Hamill could not be further from that. This madman came into the recording studio and he was totally eccentric and he goes a million miles an hour. He talks a million miles an hour. His imagination never stops jumping from topic to topic. He’s a very intellectually alive person, and if you get Mark on a topic, you can’t shut him up for an hour.

Ahahahahahahahaha!
posted by zarq at 10:18 AM on October 6 [5 favorites]


Conroy's explanation of Batman being the true identity and Bruce Wayne being the persona is perfect.

See also
posted by solotoro at 10:25 AM on October 6 [4 favorites]


This is hilarious:
KC: We must have been halfway through the second season and I went to the Hollywood post office early in the morning, before the sun was even up. This homeless guy says, “Hey, buddy, you got a dollar?” I just had my mail and I said, “I’m sorry, honestly, I have nothing.” And he said, “Oh my god, you’re Kevin Conroy! You’re Batman!” I said, “How do you know that?” He said, “There’s a Circuit City on Hollywood Boulevard and they have all the monitors facing the street and I watch your show every day. Oh, please do it!” I said, “Do what?” He said, “You know what I want you to do! I am vengeance …” I said, “Okay. I am vengeance …” He said, “Oh, yeah, this is so cool! Come on, keep going, keep going! I am the night …” I said, “I am the night …” He said, “Bring it home, Batman! Bring it home!” I said, “I am Batman!” And just then someone screams out of their window, “Hey, Batman, shut the fuck up!” [Laughs.] I got home and I called Andrea and I said, “I think our show is really, really going to be successful: When the homeless people are quoting the show to me in the dark, I think we’ve got a home run here.” That was the day I realized that we maybe had a cultural phenomenon going on.
posted by zarq at 10:28 AM on October 6 [25 favorites]


The Batman: Animated book goes into detail on the art for the series, and contains most of the title cards that were so iconic.

But the printed copy doesn't really do justice to how Hamill and Conroy ARE Joker and Batman. Sure, Heath Ledger was great and menacing, but he could never top MH's Joker muttering "Can't be too careful with all those weirdos around" in Mask of the Phantasm. Or Batman growling "That's three!" in the R'as Al-Ghul 2-part epic.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 10:52 AM on October 6 [6 favorites]


There's a giant city. There's bank robbers. Batman has a jet-car. He can beat two armed opponents single-handed. Then he leaves them for the police and buggers off to stand on a skyscraper and look moody.

You missed the most important part: Batman hates guns. HATES them.
posted by 1970s Antihero at 11:17 AM on October 6 [13 favorites]


> the Burton/Nolan movies were made to suit a film industry that was still laboring under the delusion that audiences want to see the lead actor's face as much as possible.

Years ago, I was visiting friends and we somehow got onto a conversation about Judge Dredd being something that could never have a worthwhile movie adaptation because no-one would consider leaving his face hidden the entire time. And then they told me that's exactly what happens in Dredd. So we went back to their place and watched it.

There's more to discuss about that movie, good and bad, but it still surprises me the face-hiding choice was made and stuck to.
posted by cardioid at 11:40 AM on October 6 [5 favorites]


zarq, there's a story that Conroy recounted on the Batman: Gotham Knight directors' commentary, where he was discussing going down to help after 9/11 by helping feed the first responders (he joked that being an actor, he knew how to wait tables.) Needless to say, he gets recognized, and someone asks him to do the "I am vengeance" line. So he does, and he gets pretty much mobbed by the first responders, who point out that they either watched the show growing up, or with their kids, and getting to hear that line and meet him was a bright spot in a sea of horrible they were dealing with.
posted by NoxAeternum at 12:05 PM on October 6 [13 favorites]




You missed the most important part: Batman hates guns. HATES them.

It goes beyond that. At the end of one of the stories in Gotham Knight (and seriously, if you haven't seen it, you should - it's basically BTAS meets The Animatrix), he winds up in a storm drain, where he finds guns thrown away by criminals. The final scene has him looking up at Alfred, whom he asks tor help getting out of the drain - because he's cradling all the guns he found in the drain, and he just can't let go.
posted by NoxAeternum at 2:31 PM on October 6 [2 favorites]


The art redesign ruined the show. They had three assets going for them- gorgeous art, strong cast, and good writing. I will never understand the decision to throw one of those away.

This was done, primarily, to make it congruent with Superman TAS, and as a side benefit, the simplified character designs would make the show far easier to animate. And while I share your strong preference for the earlier character designs, it's worth pointing out that the quality of the animation itself DOES noticeably improve... For whatever that's worth.
posted by incomple at 2:47 PM on October 6 [2 favorites]


I was visiting friends and we somehow got onto a conversation about Judge Dredd being something that could never have a worthwhile movie adaptation because no-one would consider leaving his face hidden the entire time. And then they told me that's exactly what happens in Dredd.

Here's the deal, tho - Karl Urban could have had the helmet ripped off of him at some point in the movie, and he would still be recognizably Dredd. Those cold eyes, closed-off, judgement already rendered and with no appeal... that is what was actually happening behind Dredd's visor through the film, even though we are never allowed to see it, and it's kind of worse than the inhuman erasure of expression of the Judge's Helm.
posted by Slap*Happy at 4:15 PM on October 6 [6 favorites]


Yeah, Dread 2012 was pretty much perfect.
posted by mikelieman at 4:27 PM on October 6 [5 favorites]


And Warner has announced a Blu-ray release for the series in 2018.
posted by NoxAeternum at 11:48 AM on October 9 [3 favorites]


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