The Quarantine Stream: 'Batman: The Animated Series' is a Timeless Classic
(Welcome to The Quarantine Stream, a new series where the /Film team shares what they’ve been watching while social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.)
The Series: Batman: The Animated Series
Where You Can Stream It: HBO Max
The Pitch: So there’s this guy, see. Name’s Bruce Wayne. After his parents were murdered in front of him (you might have heard of his mother – her name was Martha), he swears to protect the streets of Gotham City and decides the best way to do that is to dress up like a bat to strike fear into the hearts of criminals.
Why It’s Essential Viewing: To me, Batman: The Animated Series is the coolest adaptation of Batman ever committed to any screen – big or small. The Dark Knight? Nope. Batman v Superman? Get outta here. Nothing can hold a candle to Bruce Timm and Eric Radomski‘s immersive, stylized, noir-infused animation masterwork, which still holds up as well today as it did when it debuted in the early 1990s. People can debate about whether this is the best Batman adaptation or not, but I think this is the rare instance where just about everyone can agree that this show is an absolute banger and an all-time classic work of television.
Like many other people in my generation, this show made a major impact on me as a kid. It was impeccably designed, with the whole thing drenched in a wonderfully evocative but still not-quite-real art deco style. The voice acting was unreal: Kevin Conroy turned in what may be the best performance of anyone who has ever played the title role (his aloof Bruce is such a stark contrast to the deep-but-not-growling take on Batman), and Mark Hamill blew my young mind with his next-level work as the Joker, creating the definitive version of that character in the process. It’s a kid’s show that didn’t talk down to its audience, it dealt with more complex topics than its contemporaries, and the animation and design work were so stunning that the show hypnotized adult audiences as well. Plus, it not only introduced the world to the Harley Quinn character, but was smart enough to understand that she deserved to be expanded upon and developed beyond her initial schtick.
“Almost Got ‘im.” “Heart of Ice.” “Beware the Gray Ghost.” Even if you haven’t seen these episodes for years, there’s a good chance that simply seeing their names will bring back a flood of memories of some of the best Batman stories ever told. And now you can finally revisit them with relative ease: the show, which was not available to stream for a long time, has been buried on the DC Universe streaming service for the past couple of years, but now it is finally available to watch on HBO Max.
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