Everyone’s favourite Caped Crusader has continued his animated film outings recently with Batman: Gotham by Gaslight, which was pretty cool and I did a Stardust review for (you can find me at Movievillett), and Batman Ninja which I have not seen yet but looks interesting.
All this animated Batman action got me thinking about the various Batman animated series we have had over the years. And you know what that means? It’s ranking time! Now the 1960s and 1970s series The Batman/Superman Hour and The New Adventures of Batman were before my time and I ain’t going back and watching them. What? I’m a busy dude. So my ranking will begin in the 90s and move up to the present. With that out tof he way let’s strap on our utility belts, slide down a pole and do this thang:
#6 Beware the Batman (2013-2014)
Firstly, what is up with that name? Beware the Batman? Is this a 50s popcorn horror film? Seriously? Secondly while I appreciate the attempt to go the computer-animated route the look of the characters was just blocky and unattractive. Thirdly, ditching Robin for Katana and focusing on lesser known villains like Professor Pyg and Magpie did the show no favours. Three strikes, one season and you’re outta here!
#5 The New Batman Adventures (1997-1999)
This follow up to the stellar Batman: The Animated Series tried to recapture the magic of the original but never could. It always felt like a watered down, lighter, more sanitised version. All it really did was make you want to watch its far superior predecessor. Sorry The New Batman Adventures, you just could not step out of that massive shadow.
#4 The Batman (2004-2008)
Unlike our previous entry The Batman really tried to do its own thing. A different art style, an edgy feel and the action was decent overall. They even had a wild, almost animal-like interpretation of the Joker which actually worked for the show and was the most memorable aspect. Not bad The Batman. Not bad at all.
#3 Batman The Brave and the Bold (2008-2011)
Okay, okay put down your bat pitchforks and your bat torches. Let me explain why Batman: The Brave and the Bold is at number three. Sure the show trades the darker tones and subject matter of other Batman animated series for lighter, more comedic fare but Holy Twisty Tone Change they did it so well.
Comedian Diedrich Bader as Bats is downright hilarious and John DiMaggio (aka Bender from Futurama and Jake the Dog from Adventure Time) is a laugh riot as the boastful Aquaman. And via the team-up aspect the show features a panoply of DC characters from the well known to the obscure. Once you get on board with the tone you are in for a colourful, wild and highly entertaining ride.
#2 Batman Beyond (1999-2001)
Can we take a moment to feast on the visual and audio awesomeness of that techno opening theme? Please? Okay here we go:
And everything just went uphill from there. The series continued in the DC Animated Universe and was a spin off of Batman: The Animated Series. It is set in future Gotham and Bruce Wayne (still voiced by the iconic Kevin Conroy) is now a grizzled old man and mentor to a new, young, high tech bat-suit wearing Batman in Terry McGinnis.
Some fantastic animation, great new baddies and allies, and some sweet action and strong plotting all combined for a spectacular series. Something old, something new, a whole lot of awesome. And it also gave us the 12 flavours of awesome sauce that is the animated movie Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker. With all the DCEU movies in the works how about a Batman Beyond live action film. Get on it people!
#1 Batman: The Animated Series (1992-1995)
Fine, this choice has surprised absolutely no one. And if you have never heard of the series I am sure you have heard of people talking about how mind blowing it was. But this is one case where a series actually lives up to the hype. If the 1989 Batman film made the character relevant and serious again then this is the series that helped cement The Dark Knight’s place in pop culture. Batman: TAS gave us the best Batman voice actor in Conroy, the best Joker ever in Mark Hamill and even introduced Harley Quinn who went on to become a comic book darling.
Here was ostensibly a children’s show that mixed noir and Gothic themes with superhero action and deep storytelling. It is not only the best Batman animated series but one of the best incarnations of the Caped Crusader. Man I feel like going to watch it right now!
To start your Batman: The Animated Series collection you can Buy it on Amazon.
And for more 90s cartoon nostalgia you can check out my Top 20 Cartoons from the 90s here.