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The New Batman Adventures – Over The Edge (Review)

This post is part of the DCAU fortnight, a series of articles looking at the Warner Brothers animations featuring DC’s iconic selection of characters. I’ll be looking at movies and episodes and even some of the related comic books. To tie into this morning’s review of Under the Red Hood, I thought I’d take a look at what might happen to Batman if he lost a partner.

Following the success of Superman: The Animated Series, a new bunch of Batman episodes were commissioned by Warner Brothers to compliment Batman: The Animated Series. However, this new series would be animated in the style of the Superman series – typically meaning a lighter animation and fewer lines. The transition was jarring, to say the least. Indeed, many commentators make the observation (whether fair or not) that The New Batman Adventures offered a “lighter and softer” approach to the Caped Crusader and his universe. Though I think that’s not an unfair description, it is also worth conceding that the season also gave us quite possibly the single darkest half-hour in the entire history of the DC animated universe. I refer to Over the Edge.

Those expecting a light story might want to look elsewhere…

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By Gordon! Is Commissioner Gordon the Central Character of Nolan’s Batman?

We have to save Dent! I… have to save Dent!

– Commissioner Gordon, at the climax of The Dark Knight

It was Joss Whedon himself – the man now helming The Avengers – who once argued that the problem in bringing DC adaptations to the screen was that the traditional line-up was somewhat difficult for the audience to relate to and engage with (as compared to identifying with the X-Men’s status as social outcasts or Peter Parker’s nerdy little troubles):

Because, with that one big exception (Batman), DC’s heroes are from a different era. They’re from the era when they were creating gods.

And the thing that made [rival publisher] Marvel Comics extraordinary was that they created people. Their characters didn’t living in mythical cities, they lived in New York. They absolutely were a part of the world. Peter Parker’s character (Spider-Man) was a tortured adolescent.

DC’s characters, like Wonder Woman and Superman and Green Lantern, were all very much removed from humanity. Batman was the only character they had who was so rooted in pain, that had that same gift that the Marvel characters had, which was that gift of humanity that we can relate to.

Of course, he cites Batman as the excpetion, but you can’t help but wonder just how easy it is to relate a billionaire playboy who is focused on avenging the loss of his parents to the exclusion of all else. The wonderful thing that Christopher Nolan has done with the Batman mythos is to render it so wonderfully accessible. And perhaps he’s done that by making James Gordon, as wonderfully played by Gary Oldman, the centre of his saga.

Gordon lights up the movie...

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