DC Comics has dubbed today Batman Day. The Dark Knight has been fighting crime and serving justice for his 75th year since the 1939 debut of Detective Comics #27. Batman has been a big part of our lives, and was responsible for making me in the comic book fanatics we are today, whether it be through comic books and toys or television and movies. To show our appreciation for the man, the myth and the legend, we have compiled a plethora of Bat-themed lists. We hope that we can inspire you to read more about Batman and his legacy, or even give us some feedback if you agree or disagree with the lists. Sound off below! Or click on the picture below to take you to all of our Batman Day articles.
Top 10 Episodes
If you’re like us, you grew up watching Batman in animated form take over the TV in animated form on Saturday mornings, or syndicated after school. For almost a full decade, Paul Dini, Bruce Timm, Kevin Conroy, Mark Hamill and a complete cast of supporting characters set a new standard for cartoons with Batman: The Animated Series and The New Batman Adventures, headlining an already-phenomenal decade of classic cartoons. Since the original spin-off Batman Beyond ended in 2001, DC has had years of success in the animated world riding the wave of B:TAS. In fact, Batman has been the only superhero to carry a solo series for over a season since (minus Green Lantern, but shhh) Superman: The Animated Series aired alongside Batman’s. The newer incarnations never lived up to the quality of the 90’s, but it doesn’t mean they weren’t special in their own way. We go through ten – and yes it was hard to limit it to ten – of our favorite episodes from the animated series.
10.) Batman: The Brave and the Bold S1 E24, “Mayhem of the Music Meister”
Anytime a show’s episode is compared to Buffy the Vampire Slayer‘s “Once More With Feeling,” the show is doing a good job. BATB was a silly show, but there were still enough serious moments to keep the show believable. It was great at straddling the line between corny and serious crime fighting every episode. There was just enough wiggle room for an episode like “Mayhem of the Music Meister to sneak through. Thanks to the talents of Neil Patrick Harris (Dr. Horrible‘s Sing-A-Long Blog), the episode is full of hilarious ditties, capped by the heroic performance of Batman and his voice of justice. “Music Meister” proved that Batman series don’t always need to take themselves so seriously.
9.) The New Batman Adventures S1E12, “Over the Edge”
Watching this episode as a kid, I had my jaw open the whole time. Batgirl, in a struggle with Scarecrow, had been knocked off a building, falling to her death. In a fit of rage, Commissioner Gordon’s reaction to discovering that his own daughter was the Batgirl was one of I couldn’t quite comprehend. What came next was the complete annihilation of the trust they have worked so hard to build, the invasion of Wayne Manor by the GCPD. I though I was watching the end of the show, when suddenly, it turns out that none of it was real. It had all been a hallucination caused by Scarecrow’s fear toxin. I can safely say that I have never felt as fooled by a plot twist as when watching “Over the Edge.”
8.) Batman: The Animated Series S1E30, “Perchance to Dream”
Another hallucination-based episode, “Perchance to Dream” dangles Batman’s greatest desires in front of him. Waking up after a hard hit knocks him unconscious, both his parents are alive, but there is no sign anywhere that he is the Batman. On the plus side, he is engaged to Selina Kyle, living the life of a boring rich kid. As more memories flood in of his time as Batman, he begins to think he’s going insane, haunted by the shadow of a Batman. It turns out the Mad Hatter had Batman under his control, ripping the would-be great life away from Batman. Kevin Conroy, a student of Shakespeare, says that this is favorite episode of all. With the deep exploration of Batman’s psyche, it took B:TAS beyond the status quo for Saturday morning cartoon.
7.) Batman: The Animated Series S1E60-61, “The Demon’s Quest”
This Ra’s al Ghul-centric arc is based on the story written by Dennis O’Neil, who created the character with Neal Adams in 1971’s Batman #232. O’Neil actually wrote the first episode of the two-part arc. Ra’s al Ghul’s proper introduction into the show was so appropriate for him. He is a villain unlike any other. Immediately, Ra’s knows Batman’s secret identity, but doesn’t much seem to care. The great thing about Ra’s is that he doesn’t want Batman dead, but rather to take over the family business of global domination. There’s also a really fun swash-buckling scene where Batman and Ra’s engage in combat. The whole thing feels very Lawrence of Arabia; bringing this classic comic book story to animated form was a great call and a pleasure to watch.
6.) Batman: The Animated Series, S1E2 “Christmas With the Joker”
Jingle Bells, Batman smells, Robin laid an egg. Batmobile lost its wheels, and Joker got away! “Christmas With the Joker” is one of the funnest episodes of the series. Just hand Mark Hamill the microphone and let him go wild. Joker kidnaps Gordon, Harvey Bullock and Summer Gleason, putting on a Christmas special for Gotham, drawing the Batman out and sending him and Robin on a wild goose chase around town. After finally catching up with the Joker and foiling his plan, he gives Batman a Christmas present – a big ol’ pie right in the face! He went through all that trouble, kidnapping law enforcement, riggin toy soldiers to kill, all to give Batman a pie in the face. Back at Wayne Manor, Bruce and Dick watch It’s A Wonderful Life, to which Bruce comments, “it has its moments.”
5.) The New Batman Adventures S1E19 “Legends of the Dark Knight”
There’s nothing like a good tribute episode to really get the fans into it. The episode follows three kids as they argue back and forth about what they think the Batman is like. The children featured are actually tributes to famous kids in the DC Animated lore. Matt is the brother of Batman Beyond‘s Terry McGinnis, Carrie is the Robin from The Dark Knight Returns, and Nick is from the “I’ve Got Batman in My Basement,” where he and two other children hide Batman in their house when they find him injured and in danger. Each account of the Batman is a callback to a famous time period in Batman’s history. Matt’s version is a tribute to the Dick Sprang style Batman, which inspired the Brave and the Bold cartoon. Carrie’s version is a callback to The Dark Knight Returns, which was unique because Frank Miller’s TDKR is one of the most adult versions of the Batman created, so to see it toned down for a cartoon was really neat. As they continue walking around the block, they run into Firefly, who is quickly dispatched by the Batman himself. The episode is hero worship in the purest sense.
4.) The New Batman Adventures S1E21 “Mad Love”
Harley Quinn has always been down for her man, even if Mistah Jay treats her like crap. However, this episode – based off the 1994 Batman Adventures: Mad Love book – is where Harley draws the line. After trying to get Joker in the mood he abusively shrugs Harley off, focused on his many failed attempts at taking Batman down. Just to make him happy, Harley devises a plan to capture the Dark Knight on her own, and it works! Expecting Joker would be happy about her accomplishment, he was furious that Harley did a better job than he did – that Joker had to be the one to do it. Joker then proceeds to beat the crap out of Harley, and not in a comical way, but rather in a domestic violence kind of way. The issue opened my eyes to the topic of domestic violence, and even then I knew it was wrong.
3.) Batman Beyond, S1E1-2 “Rebirth”
The year was 1999 and Batman: The Animated Series as we knew it was over. Sure, there was still Justice League, but sharing screen time with the other Leaguers left me pining for more Batman. Enter Batman Beyond. It was Batman… from the future! Reprising his role of Bruce Wayne, Kevin Conroy was a link to the show we loved so much. What made this story so great was that it was a completely new world, with futuristic characters and gadgets, as well as adaptations of villains years in the future. Terry’s character was also completely relatable: single parent home, sibling rivalry, high school relationships. This show rejuvenated the Batman animated world, and became an instant fan favorite. Schway.
2.) Batman: The Animated Series S1E14, “Heart of Ice”
“Heart of Ice” was the first episode of the series directed by creators Bruce Timm and Paul Dini. Victor Fries is one of the most tragic villains in Batman’s rogues gallery. Sure he blasts innocent people to death with his freeze ray, but he’s got a good reason to be upset with the world. Working at GothCorp, Fries had been working tirelessly to find a cure for his cryogenically frozen wife, Nora, when company CEO Ferris Boyle coldly shut down operations. When Fries tried to stop Boyle, Boyle threw Fries into the a table of chemicals, essentially turning him into the monster he is today. Mr. Freeze’s goal is simple revenge – and who could blame him? The issue itself was poetic, as Batman and viewers alike could feel Freeze’s pain.
1.) Batman: The Animated Series, S1E46 “Almost Got ‘Im”
If you want one episode to represent Batman in the animated world, “Almost Got ‘Im” is your show. Joker, Ivy, Penguin, Killer Croc and Two-Face play a high stakes game of poker as they share stories about the time they came so close to killing the Batman, each coming up with one excuse or another as to why their plan didn’t fall through. Their recollections are brief, but still intriguing. The best story had to be Killer Croc, who said that he once threw a rock at Batman. When the rest of the rogues looked unimpressed, he insisted “it was a big rock.” After Joker spills the beans about his and Harley’s plans to ground Catwoman into cat food (kind of morbid, but whatever), Croc reveals himself to be Batman in disguise, with GCPD hiding in wait. The whole thing had been a setup. After rescuing Catwoman, she proposes that they run away together, and after seemingly giving this consideration, he pulls his signature disappearing act, to which Catwoman says, “Almost Got ‘Im.”