WF Editorial: "Why So Reboot? The Possible Return of Batman: The Animated Series"

James Harvey

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Unconfirmed rumors of Batman: The Animated Series getting a reboot continue to persist, moreso now than ever. In a special editorial for The World's Finest, Joseph "Karkull" Davis provides his insight on what this could all mean. Click on the thumbnail image below (or this link) to check out Davis' article and then share your thoughts right here!


So, what do you think about the possible return of Batman: The Animated Series?
 

Jiggle-Bot

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I'm keen and interested! If it's not a reboot but an in-continuity extension of the 'Timm-verse' following Batman I think it will be tricky from a creative point of view navigating through so much history and making sure there aren't any contradictions or continuity issues.

If it's a reboot - it will face the issue of being compared to the original animated series but at the same time I feel like it could surpass the original if they can 'assemble back the team' as in some regards they are likely at the peak of their ability combining experience with talent.

So on both counts looking forward to it if the rumors are true!
 

-batmat-

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I'll copy and past something from an old post of mine when we were discussing this that Davis doesn't mention in his article.

"A big part of what made BTAS so great was the "old" look of it. Hand drawn cel animation shot on film. No digital element involved. That wouldn't be the case in a revival. Another huge factor was the real music, played by an actual orchestra. I doubt they would get that now (but it would be awesome if they did!)
...
Thats what many people are afraid of, and why a revival of Batman Beyond or JLU makes more sense. But I can't say I'm not curious about what a BTAS revival would look like."
 

ShadowStar

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If a TNBA revival does happen (and I feel sure that it would be TNBA, rather than BTAS), then I'd like to see some crossovers with JLU, Batman Beyond and Static Shock. But it'd be very tricky to pull off such a thing without most of the original voice cast and without the live orchestra that helped to make the sound of BTAS (and STAS) so refreshing.
 

Red Arrow

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I'll copy and past something from an old post of mine when we were discussing this that Davis doesn't mention in his article.

"A big part of what made BTAS so great was the "old" look of it. Hand drawn cel animation shot on film. No digital element involved. That wouldn't be the case in a revival. Another huge factor was the real music, played by an actual orchestra. I doubt they would get that now (but it would be awesome if they did!)
...
Thats what many people are afraid of, and why a revival of Batman Beyond or JLU makes more sense. But I can't say I'm not curious about what a BTAS revival would look like."
If they wait a little bit until HBO Max has launched internationally, then using an orchestra should be viable, I think. Traditional animation, probably not.
 

M.O.D.O.K.

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My one issue with the article is that I don't think the potential revival should necessarily cram in all the newer Batman elements introduced since B:TAS (Court of Owls, Professor Pyg, Hush, etc.). Unlike other Batman shows (unless we're counting Young Justice), the DCAU does have a specific timeline and ending for Bruce's tenure as Batman. Adding a newer villain or two is fine, but then people ask for No Man's Land or Court of Owls, and I'm just wondering how they'll fit that in. The Adventures Continue tried that with Red Hood and it had to mess with continuity quite a bit to fit it there. Deathstroke and Azrael were at least smoother transitions.

Assuming this continuation happens, I hope they tell the story they want to tell first and foremost. There's a reason why my favorite TAC arc was the holiday one.
 

Dallas Kinard

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I honestly don't think this is happening the way we think, if it even does, for one reason - continuity. B.T. didn't even watch the the TNBA in prep for Batman and Harley Quinn! I can't see it happening here and I'm sure if they actually go through with committing to an actual return to the series, continuity is either going to be outright ignored or only lightly touched upon. I simply can't imagine the creators digging deep into the often disputed timeline and continuity nightmare to do an actual return justice. Which is why I will not be getting my hopes up for this. It's most likely a NEW Batman series, not a revival. If I'm wrong, I'll be happy to see another DCAU production, but I will not be holding my breath until I learn every single detail about how they plan on pulling something this massive - and beloved - off properly.
 

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Batman and Harley Quinn is one of the worst movies I have ever seen. If this reboot is anything like that, I'm out...
 

Pfeiffer-Pfan

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A wonderful article and I agree with all the points made (except perhaps the part about delving into modern aspects of Batman lore).

Life is short. Let's have one more swing at it for better or worse. But I hope B.T. is brutal with his demands on WB, making sure they put effort, time and care into this.
 

Dallas Kinard

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If they commit to an actual return, it has to be done right, or else it will be the single most divisive and controversial thing WB Animation as ever done. If we think the ROTJ flashback is heavily debated, can you imagine what baggage this would bring? Makes my head hurt just thinking about it.
 

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I agree completely. Why be afraid of a revived iteration? I don't care if it's not exactly the same, or the same quality. In fact I'd rather they did something to progress the series.
 

Dallas Kinard

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This is a controversial take but I honestly dont care if they ignore continuity and just moved forward in the story as they wish. The multiverse has been an established concept for decades and no media is being destroyed.
If they ignore continuity, then why call it a return to BTAS? BTAS and the DCAU are a very specific continuity. If they ignore it, that just makes it a fake, moot "return" to a world and renders it meaningless. People enjoy call-backs, continuity, references, etc. To ignore all of those things would just make it another generic Batman series. The entire purpose to create a return series is to pick up and continue the story. Continuity MUST be respected, or else this will fail.
 

Revelator

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The fan in me would love to see the series return. The realist is not so sure. We're living in an age of revivals, and most of the revived TV shows have made folks sorry they ever returned, aside from Twin Peaks.

And would a revival of BTAS really count as a revival when you consider the following factors?

* As Davis notes, many of the roles will have to be recast (Gordon, Alfred, Rupert Thorne, the Mad Hatter, Mr. Freeze). And many of the original voice actors--if they're even available to return--will sound noticeably older.

* As Batmat notes, part of BTAS's visual appeal was that it consisted of hand-drawn cel animation shot on film and scored by a real orchestra. Compare this to the recent BTAS/TNBA revival Batman and Harley Quinn and you might think "be careful what you wish for." The same could be said about Mystery of the Batwoman too.

*
Would the original crew of BTAS/TNBA actually return? If not, this wouldn't be a true revival, would it?
Would Dini be available? Isn't Burnett retired from animation? I haven't read their recent TNBA revival comic (I'm waiting for the trade paperback) but those who have could use it to predict how the writers' return would go.

And would Timm even be interested in a straight up-revival? I suppose Batman and Harley Quinn suggests yes, but that was a one-off. Remember that part of what attracted him to making more episodes of Batman after BTAS was the chance to redesign the characters and shake up the cast list and continuity. He enjoys innovating, not doing more of the same.

* What would the budget be like? Fox was willing to spend more money on BTAS than usual for TV cartoons at the time. But in 2021 DC movies are made on a budget that shows. True, HBO is now seriously exploring animation, but would BTAS then get lost in the crowd? This is a show that requires more money and time than most other cartoons, especially much of the "adult animation" that is often just illustrated radio.

If this project goes through, we could be faced with a worst case scenario of an ersatz revived BTAS, written and produced by people who didn't work on the original, animated in a way that tries to ape the BTAS look but doesn't compensate for the differences between classic and digital animation, scored with a computerized orchestra, and not given enough funding to shine.

I say all this because I'm excited by the idea of BTAS/TNBA returning. I can imagine the best-case scenario but recognize the worst-case is more likely. Nostalgia can have ruinous results. As Nick told Gatsby, you can't repeat the past.
 
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Harlequinn

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If they ignore continuity, then why call it a return to BTAS? BTAS and the DCAU are a very specific continuity. If they ignore it, that just makes it a fake, moot "return" to a world and renders it meaningless. People enjoy call-backs, continuity, references, etc. To ignore all of those things would just make it another generic Batman series. The entire purpose to create a return series is to pick up and continue the story. Continuity MUST be respected, or else this will fail.
A return to BTAS isn’t a return to BB and JLU. Ignore the future continuity to move forward, I didn’t say pretend BTAS didn’t happen.
 

Pfeiffer-Pfan

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* As Davis notes, many of the roles will have to be recast (Gordon, Alfred, Rupert Thorne, the Mad Hatter, Mr. Freeze). And many of the original voice actors--if they're even available to return--will sound noticeably older.

That isnt as much of a hurdle to me. You simply don't feature any character that was once voiced by an actor that is no longer with us. This is easy for Freeze, Thorne, Hatter and Croc, etc. Much tricker for Alfred and Gordon, but their absence could be explained away within the story (Gordon is away on business, Alfred is visiting Frederick back in England). They weren't in every episode anyway.

As for sounding older, it's just something we'd have to accept much in the way we did with a more frail sounding Adam West and Julie Newmar in the Batman '66 movies. And frankly, I disagree that most of the cast sound THAT old. Conroy, Lester and Strong still sound great, as does actors such as Robert Costanza and Adrienne Barbeau. Even the following actors sound great and are still active:

- Paul Williams
- David Warner
- Ron Perlman
- Mari Devon

Hamill is definitely starting to show his age voice wise, but again I'm sure everyone would rather have a croakier sounding Joker than a complete recast.
 

Fone Bone

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The DC Animated Universe has some of the easiest to follow and watch superhero continuity that ever existed. And the suggestion here is to completely mess it up and make it impossible to follow? Do I have that right?

There is absolutely nothing that happened in either JLU or BB which would box in a future Batman: TAS relaunch. Why not keep things consistent and easy to follow?

This is a REALLY weird want.

Also sign me up for the idea of recasting characters whose actors have died. I mean Alfred and Gordon are BTAS mainstays and the whole selling point of animation is the character is allowed to live forever beyond the actor. Every since The Simpsons starting foolishly "retiring" characters based on dead cast members "in tribute" everyone seems to actually think it's a legit idea instead of as stupid as it actually is. It's a cartoon. Nobody ever has to die. That's the entire point. Embrace that.

Further on that point: Go to the trouble to actually match the voices of the dead actors. Nobody is interested in different sounding versions of Bugs Bunny and Mickey Mouse. Keep things as consistent as possible.
 

Dreyfus

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Bruce Timm kind of alludes to the idea of returning to some version of BTAS/the DCAU in the intro of IGN Fan Fest. Not much, but he sounds open if the right opportunity arises. I think this might be true.
 

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