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Justice League Unlimited – Epilogue (Review)

At the time Epilogue was written, the creators didn’t know that Justice League Unlimited would get another season. The show ultimately got another year on television, but Dwayne McDuffie and Bruce Timm constructed Epilogue so that it would serve as something of a coda to the entire animated DC universe, stemming as far back as On Leather Wings. It actually works almost perfectly, bringing everything a full circle. Justice League and Justice League Unlimited consciously pushed Batman to the periphery, which made a bit of sense. After all, the character had anchored two shows already. However, Epilogue moves Batman back to the centre, re-establishing Bruce as the core of the animated DC universe and giving him a (mostly) happy ending a few years before The Dark Knight Rises would do the same thing.

One final spotlight on Batman…

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Batman: The Animated Series – Nothing to Fear (Review)

This September marks the twentieth anniversary of Batman: The Animated Series, and the birth of the shared DC animated universe that would eventually expand to present one of the most comprehensive and thorough explorations of a comic book mythology in any medium. To celebrate, we’re going back into the past and looking at some classic episodes.

In many respects, Nothing to Fear feels like more of a proper pilot and introduction to the world of Batman: The Animated Series than the first episode, On Leather Wings, actually did. It feels like something of a mission statement for the series, offering a very rough outline of what the show would learn to do very well, illustrating the approach that the series would take in handling the lead character and his world. While the finer details aren’t necessarily present, and there are more than a few missteps along the way, Nothing to Fear serves as a fitting welcome to this definitive animated Batman.

Bruce’s insecurity is cause for grave concern…

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Batman: The Animated Series – Beware the Grey Ghost (Review)

This September marks the twentieth anniversary of Batman: The Animated Series, and the birth of the shared DC animated universe that would eventually expand to present one of the most comprehensive and thorough explorations of a comic book mythology in any medium. To celebrate, we’re going back into the past and looking at some classic episodes.

Adam West’s Batman! occasionally gets a bit of a hard time. Opinion has softened somewhat in the past decade or so, as pop culture has seemed increasingly willing to embrace camp, but there was a time when the sixties television show was unfairly dismissed and mocked for its bright and cheerful portrayal of the Caped Crusader. I’ve always found that a bit unfair, as Batman owes a considerable amount of his pop culture cache to that show, as an entire generation grew up with Adam West’s ham-tastic take on the Dark Knight. Evidently, Bruce Timm and the producers of Batman: The Animated Series understood that, and Beware the Grey Ghost is an affectionate shout-out to that earlier iteration, effectively allowing Kevin Conroy’s grizzled Caped Crusader to recognise Adam West as one of his defining influences.

Shades of Grey…

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Batman: The Animated Series – Feat of Clay, Parts I & II (Review)

To celebrate the release of The Dark Knight Rises, July is “Batman month” here at the m0vie blog. Check back daily for comics, movies and television reviews and discussion of the Caped Crusader.

One thing that always impressed me about Batman: The Animated Series was the way that it didn’t just restrict itself to the truly iconic members of Batman’s impressive pool of villains. Batman’s first-stringers are all iconic and brilliant characters in their own right. It would be easy enough to build a television how around characters like the Joker, Two-Face, the Penguin, Catwoman, Ra’s Al Ghul, the Scarecrow, Poison and the Riddler. However, the show didn’t do that. It didn’t restrict its airtime to those major-league bad guys. In fact, many second-tier villains actually received more compelling origins and development. Heart of Ice is regarded as one the show’s best episodes, despite featuring an almost forgotten nobody villain by the name of Mr. Freeze. So it shouldn’t be that much of a surprise that the creative crew were able to build a tragic and moving back story for Clayface.

It’s Clayface’s time to shine!

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Non-Review Review: Batman – Mask of the Phantasm

To celebrate the release of The Dark Knight Rises, July is “Batman month” here at the m0vie blog. Check back daily for comics, movies and television reviews and discussion of the Caped Crusader.

There is a legitimate argument to be made that Batman: Mask of the Phantasm is the best Batman movie produced prior to Christopher Nolan taking over the film franchise. While I narrowly prefer Batman Returns, it’s hard to deny that this animated take on the character from the creator behind Batman: The Animated Series isn’t a superb exploration of the Caped Crusader and his world. Kevin Conroy is still, after all these years, my favourite actor to play Batman, and I can’t help but feel like the movie deserves a lavish re-release to celebrate the pending release of The Dark Knight Rises.

You’d have to finally go batty to do this in the long-term…

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Batman Beyond: Out of the Past (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. This is the last post of the week, and so I thought I should focus on where it all started, with the animated Bruce Wayne.

I don’t think Batman Beyond gets the credit that it so sorely deserves. It was really the first time that it was explicitly acknowledged that Bruce Wayne couldn’t be Batman forever – that, unlike so many other members of the DC pantheon, the character was a mere mortal who would pass away and that he couldn’t wear the cowl forever. The animated television show was the first to wonder what would happen to the concept of Batman, if Bruce couldn’t do it anymore. Would the hero die out and fade from memory? Or would he live on, somehow, enduring forever?

Batman always was a showman…

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Non-Review Review: Batman – Gotham Knight

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. This is one of the animated feature films involving the characters from the creators of the original animated shows.

Batman: Gotham Knight was somewhat misleadingly advertised as a “missing link” between Batman Begins and The Dark Knight. Released in the run-up to Christopher Nolan’s superhero sequel, the film was clearly intended to call to mind the Animatrix, with a strong sense of anime flavouring the variety of shorts on display here. Each was produced by a different studio in a different style from a different author. The result is, as you’d expect, a mixed bag. Some stories are good, some stories are bad – there are interesting stories let down by poor animation and strong stories featuring weak animation. It’s a very mixed bag, which never really seems necessary or exceptional.

Yes, that is a batarang in his hand. And yes, he is happy to see you...

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