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NO STORIES ABOUT BATMANS ORIGIN
December 12, 2009 6:08 PM   Subscribe

The adventures of Batman will incorporate many different elements of the Batman mythology. Our half-hour series will have a darker look and tone to it, keeping in line with the movie version and recent comic book interptretations. With a nod to the crime films and novels of the 1940s, we will combine both old and new in this "Dark Deco" visual design and create a fresh take on The Batman. - Batman: The Animated Series, the writers guidelines (pdf)
posted by Artw (53 comments total) 47 users marked this as a favorite

 
Yes. This is awesome.

Also, recommend Toonzone's fantastically comprehensive BTAS site. (Albeit not for every episode.)
posted by griphus at 6:16 PM on December 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


Dark humor and clever dialgue is great, as long as it seems to realistically refelct the character's wit, as opposed to the writers

I'd kind of like this to apply to *everything* and there's a couple of writers who'd heads I'd like to see it stapled to. Mr. Ellis, you are head of the line.
posted by Artw at 6:19 PM on December 12, 2009 [15 favorites]


This show is the reason that I developed an intense obsession and admiration of Batman. It makes sense that so much thought was put into the development of his character in the series and I can see the reactions to alternate version of Batman in this planning.

...a grim being cloaked as much in mystery as he is in shadows.
posted by bright knight at 6:22 PM on December 12, 2009


I preferred the '60s live-action Batman.

DUN DUN DUN DUN DUN DUN DUN DUN DUN DUN DUN DUN DUN DUN DUN DUN
posted by dunkadunc at 6:29 PM on December 12, 2009 [2 favorites]


Dunkadunc, you might actually really dig the latest Batman animated series, then, Brave and the Bold. A lot of outsized silly, and, hey, it's the only DC Universe show to ever get me to look forward to Aquaman.

(Full disclosure: Friends of mine are behind it.)
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 6:34 PM on December 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


> I preferred the '60s live-action Batman.

The only worthwhile thing to come out of the '60s Batman series is the Mayor of Quahog.
posted by Decimask at 6:34 PM on December 12, 2009 [4 favorites]


Yeah, the Brave and the Bold version of Aquaman is awesome.
posted by ursus_comiter at 6:35 PM on December 12, 2009


Batman with a Bomb
posted by dunkadunc at 6:37 PM on December 12, 2009


I wish this much forethought was put into most comic book movies. Seriously, enough with the origin stories. Also, this is some prescient stuff. All the admonitions to minimize pop culture references and overly ironic gags.

Definitely the best cartoon of my childhood. I would be curious to see how it holds up now. (Pretty well, I'd guess.)

Surprised that Harley Quinn seems like an afterthought.
posted by Telf at 6:42 PM on December 12, 2009


Yeah, the Brave and the Bold version of Aquaman is awesome.

I haven't seen B&tB yet, but the JLU version slapped the shit out of Zan the Wonder Twin "Downpour." (2:06 into the video if the deeplink didn't work.)
posted by griphus at 7:16 PM on December 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


That new (?) Aquaman in Griphus's link appears to be doing some kind of Namor-level asshole impression. Full circle?
posted by rokusan at 7:25 PM on December 12, 2009


rokusan - it was about fifteen years ago that DC tried to make Aquaman a little badass-er, and that's the version JLU Aquaman is based around. It's less Namor's dickishness and more of the fact that he's tasked with keeping peace on 70% of the planet, and the other 30% keeps making things difficult.
posted by griphus at 7:43 PM on December 12, 2009


(Actual link for comment above.)
posted by griphus at 7:44 PM on December 12, 2009


Aquaman was great in the Defenders-esque two parter that's the second part of the Youtube link above, but nothing on Solomon Grundy as sort-of-the-Hulk. And the indentity of the major badguy was rather fun.
posted by Artw at 7:53 PM on December 12, 2009


Artw- Yeah, I loved the resolution of the "Oh! Shit! Where's Oa?!" thing.
posted by griphus at 8:06 PM on December 12, 2009


Batman: TAS was pretty great.

DUN DUN DUN DUN DUN DUN DUN DUN DUN DUN DUN DUN DUN DUN DUN DUN

LEADER!
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:12 PM on December 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


Roughly the first season of TAS (more or less by airdate) is available streaming online at KidsWB, if you can handle watching the same toy commercials four or five times an episode. Other than the aforementioned repetition of commercials, it's actually decent quality. Not to mention that it holds up to my nostalgic memory pretty well.
posted by jdherg at 8:22 PM on December 12, 2009 [6 favorites]


Aquaman's been sort of like a thinking man's Namor since Peter David re-vamp in the '90s. To tell the truth, I like the Brave & The Bold's version better - "I shall call you Platelet!"

Also, the comic book series tied to Batman: The Animated Series, Batman Adventures, was easily one of the best comic book runs of all time, consistently better than the mainstream Bat-titles alongside it on the shelves. (Knightfall? Come on, really?)

Imagine a comic book where the insides were as good as the covers... and the covers were fantastic.
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:49 PM on December 12, 2009 [3 favorites]


Thank you Artw, and thank you jdherg for the KidsWB link. Batman TAS was the show of my childhood. My English wasn't very good when I started watching, but the visuals were just so beautiful (I think the intro perfectly demonstrates that it didn't need dialogue to be exciting) that I never missed an episode.
posted by Partario at 9:06 PM on December 12, 2009


Surprised that Harley Quinn seems like an afterthought.

From what I understand she kind of was an afterthought. They needed some kind of villainess foil for the Joker, and the next thing you know you've got the most compelling character the Batman mythos has come up with in years. I think that people are still working with how to properly deal with her as a character. I think that she'd be a convenient way out of the Joker problem that Heath Ledger's death caused 'cause you could basically make her the Joker. In fact, for a ton of people turning the Joker into a woman would only make the menace even worse.

What I'm trying to say is that Harley Quinn is a kick-ass character whose main drawback is her recent birth. I mean, she's competing with Firebug...fucking Firebug I'd call the lameness of that villain racist if I had half a mind to.

Also, Harley Quinn could have brought the house down on the 60's Batman. That's probably why she works so well as a character.
posted by Doublewhiskeycokenoice at 9:09 PM on December 12, 2009 [7 favorites]


Knightfall? Come on, really?

"Batman isn't cool enough for kids these days! Let's replace him with a Wolverine knockoff, it'll be awesome! While we're at it, we could give Superman a mullet!"
posted by Artw at 9:14 PM on December 12, 2009 [3 favorites]


I was not a kid when this show came out, but it makes me feel like a kid again even now. Thanks for posting this. It's reminded me that I want to start adding it to my Netflix queue.
posted by immlass at 9:35 PM on December 12, 2009


Dark humor and clever dialgue is great, as long as it seems to realistically refelct the character's wit, as opposed to the writer's.

Like every character in every Tarantino movie?

The ones who all talk the same?
posted by rokusan at 10:01 PM on December 12, 2009 [3 favorites]


This is interesting, but a lot of the things in it weren't exactly followed to the letter. While I don't remember any straight-up origin story episode, there were plenty of references to how his parents died, although I can't recall if there's any reference to Zorro or anything like that. And I'm fairly certain there was a Bat-Signal, though I don't remember it being used very often; and he did work with the police, though he wasn't deputized or anything. And Robin did get a lot of face time, especially in the later seasons when they changed the title to The Adventures of Batman and Robin.

It was still a great show, though; especially compared to most of the schlock peddled to kids.
posted by Target Practice at 10:03 PM on December 12, 2009


The only worthwhile thing to come out of the '60s Batman series is the Mayor of Quahog.

I disagree. Frank Gorshin's Riddler is one of the best villains ever.
posted by MrBadExample at 10:25 PM on December 12, 2009 [3 favorites]


The closest that TAS ever got to a Zorro shout-out was the episode with the Grey Ghost, a Shadow/Spirit-type character (voiced by Adam West!) from Bruce Wayne's favorite TV show as a child. In TAS's retcon, it was the Grey Ghost that gave Bruce the inspiration to become a costumed adventurer. Even though Zorro-the-character is technically public domain (having been initially published in 1919), I think the TAS writers might have been gunshy about using the character for some reason. Were the Sony Zorro pictures in already in development around that time?
posted by Strange Interlude at 10:33 PM on December 12, 2009


I loved this series. The stories they told were quite mature, I thought, for a kids show, and really gave a humanity to some of the villains, especially Mr. Freeze and Clayface, who were badguys, yes, but they were portrayed as victims of circumstance, to some extent. The episode His Iron Soul (I think that's it) was fascinating, since the robot version of Batman, being a duplicate, was unable to kill Bruce Wayne because Batman doesn't kill.

The look, though, was the best part. I remember reading somewhere that they achieved the look by using black paper/background for their drawings, rather than white, so that the whole page was simply darker than what they could otherwise do.

It's nice when kids tv doesn't suck.
posted by Ghidorah at 10:36 PM on December 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


Thank you for this post. Finds like this and the ensuing discussion are what makes me love MetaFilter.

The only worthwhile thing to come out of the '60s Batman series is the Mayor of Quahog.

vs.

I disagree. Frank Gorshin's Riddler is one of the best villains ever.

I reckon Mayor Adam West is the best thing, but that Riddler was might fine.

Batman: The Animated Series
is one of my favorite pieces of media, and it taught me that animation could be a serious art form. This writer's guide is awesome.
posted by solipsophistocracy at 10:45 PM on December 12, 2009


In fact, for a ton of people turning the Joker into a woman would only make the menace even worse.

Poison Ivy and Catwoman feed the heterosexual undercurrent there. Adding Quinn would just get in the way. The Joker has to be male because of the dare-not-be-spoken homoerotic subtext written between himself and Batman.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:11 AM on December 13, 2009 [3 favorites]


Dark humor and clever dialgue is great, as long as it seems to realistically refelct the character's wit, as opposed to the writer's.

Like every character in every Tarantino movie?


Certainly an extension of that problem, but somehow it's much much worse when say Kevin Smith or Joss Whedon start putting their dialogue in the mouth of some character they didn't create.
posted by Artw at 12:52 AM on December 13, 2009


BP--

Oh come on. Not everything is gender studies. Batman vs. Joker is Order vs. Chaos, with a bit of yin and yang going on (Batman rides the edge of mental breakdown by sheer willpower, Joker always has a method to his madness).
posted by effugas at 3:58 AM on December 13, 2009 [2 favorites]


Yin and Yang relationships are, by definition, sexual. The intriguing part is that Batman embraces and symbolizes the darkness - which is also the female half of the Yin/Yang.
posted by Slap*Happy at 5:06 AM on December 13, 2009


I always thought the Joker was kind of a flamer.
posted by RussHy at 5:11 AM on December 13, 2009


Snark Mode Engage!

A cop arresting a murderer, that's clearly a dare-not-be-spoken homoerotic subtext, see the cop represents order but maybe isn't entirely above board, while the murderer represents chaos but was just trying to get by in a cruel cruel world. Yin and yang, by definition sexual. By definition.

And I haven't even brought up batons. Or TASERS. Oh my god, Tasers.

Look. Just because you can sexualize anything -- Rule 34, natch -- doesn't mean it's particularly meaningful to do so. World War II can be analyzed as the interaction of a great many number of quarks, after all, but that wouldn't make for particularly insightful analysis.
posted by effugas at 5:22 AM on December 13, 2009 [6 favorites]


And the Riddler, he is clearly gay.
posted by RussHy at 5:37 AM on December 13, 2009


Well, if you're going to get into the gender dynamics of Batman and the Joker while discussing Harley Quinn, what about the creepy abusive relationship between Harley and the Joker? Quinn's perpetual 'battered wife' routine makes me wince more and more as the years go on. The way most of her schtick is about trying to please Mistah J. who really has no time for her due to his obsessive pursuit of Batman is pretty fucked up. (See the "Mad Love" graphic novel, which is pretty much all about the B/J/HQ emotional triangle.)

A Harley Quinn out for vengeance on Bats because she thought he'd killed the Joker would indeed be pretty scary, though digging through my memories of HQ and J's relationship makes me feel like "Bats hunting down the Joker because he took his frustration out on Harley Quinn and killed her" seems much more likely.

and admittedly the series always made it pretty clear that both the Joker and Harley are dangerously insane and are not a relationship to be emulated.
posted by egypturnash at 6:16 AM on December 13, 2009 [2 favorites]


Wow, this is fascinating, thanks so much for sharing.

It's amazing how much different the description of Mr. Freeze is from the rather sophisticated tragic figure we see in the actual episode "Heart of Ice." That was such a well-done episode that I still find it to be top-notch entertainment and one of the all-time great Batman stories.

Having watched a bunch of episodes recently and seen that they really hold up from back when I was a comics-loving kid amazed just to see a Batman show, it's gratifying to know that they really had the intelligent and sophisticated approach it seemed to take, and that they even had long-term posterity in mind (jokes holding up in 10-20 years). For me, the animated series pulled out a consistently excellent Batman that has only ever been spottily present in the comics.
posted by graymouser at 6:18 AM on December 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


egypturnash

If it makes you feel any better, in the comics Harley has been cured of her delusions and obsession with the Joker and has, at least for the time being, gone straight.
posted by Target Practice at 6:29 AM on December 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


I like the way Clay Face's origin changed from the original doc (Mob dude can change into anyone via 'elixir') to something more tragic (Man's quest for ideal beauty creates a monster). God, what an absolutely fantastic show.
posted by GilloD at 6:42 AM on December 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


egypturnash - the battered wife thing is the best part. For one, it's one of the most "plausible" super-villain explanations I've ever seen, much more sensible than the bonnie-and-clyde "hey this looks like fun" stereotype behind most villainous pairings. I'm pretty sure
the writers are making it as CREEPY AS POSSIBLE for exactly that reason.

Also, Heart of Ice won an emmy.
http://www.toonzone.net/shows/awards/batman-superman.html

Hoorah for recognition of quality!
posted by ®@ at 6:45 AM on December 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


Effugas - you never even once questioned the symbolism of the policeman's night-stick? It's not just an Anglo-American symbol, either: the ancient Romans had the fasces, the medieval Japanese had the jitte, and the sub-saharan Africans have the sjambok. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, and sometimes it is not.
posted by Slap*Happy at 6:49 AM on December 13, 2009


Timm and Dini made this from thing so damn good from 92 to 95, that Joel "May He Burn In Hell, Forever" Schumacher's "Batman Forever" in 95 and then "Batman and Robin" in 97 couldn't destroy the franchise.

It put the movie franchise on hold, sure, but the DCAU rocked and rolled, with Superman TAS (1996 - 2000 ); The New Batman Adventures ( 1997 - 1999 ), Justice League ( 2001 - 2004 ) and JLU ( 2004 - 2006 ).
posted by mikelieman at 7:02 AM on December 13, 2009


Harley's gone straight? What, has she gone back to being a psychiatrist?

Wikipedia tells me that:
...Harley appears to have reformed and is shown to be residing in an Amazon-run women's shelter. Having abandoned her jester costume and clown make-up, she now only wears an Amazonian stola or chiton. She befriends the former Catwoman replacement Holly Robinson, and then succeeds in persuading her to join her at the shelter, where she is working as an assistant. They are both brought to Themiscyra by "Athena" (really Granny Goodness) and begin Amazon training. […]
wtf. comics. *shakes her head and goes to re-read the new Beanworld book instead*

The Batman series was one of the last cartoons I gave a damn about before I went into the animation industry and learnt entirely too much about how the sausage is made.
posted by egypturnash at 7:12 AM on December 13, 2009


They are both brought to Themiscyra by "Athena" (really Granny Goodness) and begin Amazon training

Dini's "Countdown" run. I liked it a lot. Mileage varies.
posted by mikelieman at 7:28 AM on December 13, 2009


Oh, yeah, the casting of Mark Hamill as the Joker was inspired.
posted by mikelieman at 8:05 AM on December 13, 2009


Fantastic post! Thanks in advance to griphus for the links I'm about to use...

I especially admire BTAS for making the villains so complete and compelling. A lot of my favorite episodes were almost entirely villain-based: The Man Who Killed Batman, Joker's Favor, Almost Got 'Im. Each one as good, or nearly, as Gaiman's "When Is A Door" Riddler piece or any of the best Two-Face stories (many of which were also BTAS).

Plus there were great one-shot episodes on really D-list supervillains of the classic Gotham City modus operandi non compos mentis: Clock King, Maxie Zeus...love that stuff, very 60's-era Batman with an updated psychodramatic edge.

Furthermore, this was the series that got me to care at all when it came to Batman vs. non-gimmick, no-shit crime bosses and corporate a-holes. Clayface's story (improved as it was from the original doc as GilloD points out) wouldn't have been as compelling without the untouchable Roland Daggett; nor would Freeze's without GothCorp. The early episode about Thorne and Stromwell, the one that ends in the trainyard, was a revelation in that department for me. After that, I was finally interested in these guys, colorful costumes & wonderful toys be damned. I never could've gotten through frickin' Year One without this primer (although now I love it, thanks further to Long Halloween and Dark Victory).

One more shout-out, then maybe I'll go get my own bat-blog: Strange Interlude, I loved that Grey Ghost episode. That's what I picture every time I hear Mike Doughty's song of the same name. I actually prefer the version with the fake-lyric bridge, but I'm a sucker for seeing creative works in progress (part of why I love this post, full circle).
posted by unregistered_animagus at 8:32 AM on December 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


Oh god. My students got me to go off on a 20-minute tangent by poking at me to talk about Batman, and specifically this show. This document pairs very well with the commentary tracks available on the DVDs of this show, which are really great and show people with a lot of love and care for the craft, down to the small details.

But I'm glad they changed "Slugger Sprang" to "Matches Malone" for the final version. I love Matches Malone.
posted by Tesseractive at 9:08 AM on December 13, 2009


Oh my god, I loved BTAS. If you're a fan of the show, you need to find a copy of Batman Animated. I have the hardcover version, which seems to be out of print, but I assume the paperback is identical. It's mainly an art book, but there are also lots of anecdotes about making the show - including fights with Fox and the censors.
posted by Sibrax at 11:12 AM on December 13, 2009


This is easily one of my favorite MeFi posts ever.
posted by toekneebullard at 7:23 PM on December 13, 2009


I will say this about Batman the Animated Series: it was one of the only shows I ever watched as a kid that occasionally had a sympathetic villian (and it seems I am not the first person in this thread to point that out). It actually presented a few characters that were more than one-dimensional. These were characters that tried, that had wanted to be good, that had been beaten down and twisted by life into something less than human. And you know what? I noticed. As a ten-year-old, I caught that. I understood. I can count on one hand the instances in which a form of media targeted to my childhood demographic didn't completely talk down to me. And those were the ones that stuck with me, after all these years. That's the sort of thing we need to encourage.
posted by dephlogisticated at 7:34 PM on December 13, 2009 [3 favorites]


dephlogisticated

Though it came later, Gargoyles did this pretty well too. Xanatos isn't really evil so much as interested in his own advancement at the expense of others; and as the show goes on you see him gradually soften and sometimes ally himself with the Gargoyles against something worse. Demona is more like the Batman villains in that she starts off good but becomes hardened and embittered by her experiences. MacBeth mostly just wants to die and is willing to hurt other people to get to Demona (since the only way he can die is if he kills her, or vice versa), but he does adhere to a strict code of honor. Fox and Dingo both start off as pretty standard thugs but reform.

That's one of the reasons it's my favorite cartoon from my childhood years.
posted by Target Practice at 9:45 PM on December 13, 2009


Not everything is gender studies. Batman vs. Joker is Order vs. Chaos

The Joker is always presented as a camp degenerate. Batman is hyper-masculine. The relationship is similar to that of the two men in Strangers on a Train. If nothing else, the Joker's colourful clothes and makeup mark him out as effeminate. In The Dark Knight he spends one of his biggest scenes in full drag.
posted by stammer at 2:14 AM on December 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


Ha! I was about to post this when I realized I actually GOT THE LINK from Metafilter. Strange that.

So, on this Xmas afternoon, why not relax with some classic Batman: The Animated Series Episodes

Baby Doll (2)

Harley's Holiday
(2)

Almost Got Em (2)

If You're So Smart How Come You're Not Rich (2)
posted by The Whelk at 9:43 AM on December 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


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