I certainly believe it is! While I’ve got very little patience for a Batman who growls “I work alone” at everyone, runs solely off “my parents are dead!” angst, and carelessly trashes large parts of Gotham, sign me the fuck up for a Batman who fights crime because he knows intimately how devastating it is, works for the betterment of the city in every part of his life, and who, despite difficulties creating and maintaining close relationships, genuinely cares for the people around him - Alfred, Robin (mostly Dick Grayson’s Robin, though we do see some Tim Drake), Commissioner Gordon, Barbara Gordon, Leslie Thompkins, Selina Kyle, Harvey Dent.
On the villain side, this is Mark Hamill’s Joker we’re talking in this series. From his first appearance, busting out of Arkham on a rocket-propelled Christmas tree, derailing a train, and kidnapping Commissioner Gordon, all so he can give Batman a Christmas present, he’s scary and legitimately funny. This is also the series that introduced Harley Quinn.
All in all, it was written by people who love the canon and wanted very much to produce a worthy addition to it, and it shows. My personal favourite episodes include “Heart of Ice” (the reimagining of Mr Freeze), “Beware the Grey Ghost” (a love letter to Adam West’s Batman), “Joker’s Favor” (a regular person’s POV of one of the Joker’s schemes), and “Almost Got ‘Im” (villain poker night).
ETA: Nor is there any of this “but I don’t have to save you” moral laziness on Batman’s part. Ugh, the Nolan films.
In light of the bad decisions made in the new killing joke movie,
and the corresponding negativity surrounding the dc animation, I’d like to
point out all the positive things that came from the DCAU and other animated
Batman the animated series is SO IMPORTANT to the history of
animation. Its tone and popularity mad way for all of the wonderful cartoons of
the current decade. BtAS is one of the shows that gave animation, other than
Disney, a fighting chance. It challenged the dynamic of animated television being
“just for kids” and gave us wonderful, complex, and thought provoking stories.
I will stand by its influence to my dying breath.
Now that that’s out of the way, an actual list.
-Kevin Conroy as Batman and Mark Hamill as the Joker.
You cannot deny that Conroy is a damn good Batman, and
Hamill is a FANTASTIC joker. They are iconic in the roles. When I heard that
they were reprising their parts in Justice League Action (along with Clancy
Brown), I was ecstatic. Both of them are living legends.
-“I am vengeance. I am the night. I am Batman!”
-Small time crime
Something that’s often overlooked in comics in general are
the more average criminals. I love a good supervillain as much as the next
girl, but BtAS episodes like P.O.V,
and Appointment in Crime Alley are
fantastic watches. They give us a better look at less glamorous super criminals
which is REALLY refreshing.
Beware the Grey Ghost.
Just Beware the Grey Ghost. It treats
a kinda hokey premise with the respect and dignity it needed, to look back on
how far the genre has come. Damn if you don’t get a bit teary eyed watching it.
The same principal in the Justice League Episode Legends,
which is loving tribute to silver age comics. If you’re a fan of that time
period, please go watch this.
I’m in love with her fuck.
But really, she was a fantastic introduction to the universe, and a Hispanic protagonist
Yeah ya’ll knew this one was coming. Look, even if you don’t
like Harley, you can’t deny that her creation was damn awesome, especially
since she’d stuck around to this day. The episode Mad Love really shows how fucked up their relationship is, and
treats it as such. Hell. Yes.
-Mr. Freezes’s backstory/ Nora Fries
That revamped backstory is another one that wriggled its way
into the mainstream. Fighting for the life of a loved one is already painful,
but having your freedom ripped away, and any chance at your loved one’s
survival is even more heartbreaking.
Both of her episodes deal with disabilities… Hear me out.
Because of her appearance, altered by an illness that makes her never age
physically, she has issues being taken seriously for her work, having
relationships, being a member of society, and letting go of the past. She’s
lost so much that her physical disability that she has trouble coping and ends
up with a mental disability as well (I’m not sure what but you can form your
own opinion). Putting this character on the small screen is an example of how a
character can mean something to someone, even if there’s no direct correlation.
-Mask of the Phantasm
I don’t care what you’re doing go and watch this move. I
swear it’s amazing. The joker is amazing the storytelling is amazing, Andrea is
amazing, the Phantasm is amazing, the soundtrack is amazing, EVERYTHING is
amazing. We get a good female character, who not only shows the fallibility of
Batman, but has her own issues to deal with that hurt her more than they hurt
Bruce. Even though the Joker is a villain, he doesn’t totally steal the
spotlight. We have a great mystery, especially with the target audience, and a
natural set of flashbacks detailing the Bats origin.
All of it. All of Static Shock. I don’t actually now how to
break this down into bullet points but STATIC MUTHAFUCKN SHOCK.
In all seriousness, I have a huge soft spot for this cartoon, because it’s what
got me into comics in the first place, but Static/Virgil, and the whole show
really, is representation sorely needed. I saw so many black kids dressed up like
him that Halloween because they all wanted to be a hero.
This show dealt with some shit too. When we find out Richie’s father is a
racist, it really hits home how friendships can be torn apart through bigotry,
even if it’s not direct. It handled guns well, especially for younger children.
I could quote Static’s lesson at the end verbatim for over 5 years. They deal
with drugs, homelessness, and multiple types of racism, with quite a bit of
tact, and are a good way to introduce the serious issues to kids.
Not to mention that he would have slipped under the radar without this show. I
very much doubt h would have gotten a New 52 relaunch without the success of
Just. Static Shock.
-One of the best Superman origin stories to date
That origin is very highly regarded as the most faithful
adaptations of all time. Though it didn’t introduce anything new, it holds up
and stands out over the course of time.
-Making Lois Lane a badass
(Confession: I’m 100% convinced that they saw April O’Neill,
shrugged, and said take what’s good about her and chuck it into Lois. I’m aware
I have no evidence bite me. (Yes I’m aware it’s technically the other way
But really, Lois was fukin badass. She was always chasing her story, passionate
about everything she did, worked hard to maintain her success, and treated
Superman as a person. Even if Lois got herself in perilous situations she had a
reason to be there. Whether it be chasing a story, or fighting for an interview
Lois always had some form of agency. She was kidnaped because of Superman, sure,
but she made the choice to be connected to him with that interview, and eventual
In a nutshell, Flash is a bit of a showoff, but it’s part of
his style and throws off his competitors/adversaries. I like that it also shows
Superman isn’t above having a little fun for fun’s sake.
You cannot deny that Leslie Willis is just flat out cool.
Though she never made it as big as Harley, she did appear in Supergirl, and
continues to be a superman villain in mainstream comics today.
-WAIT I TOTALLYFORGOT KYLE RAYNER WAS IN SUPERMAN THE
ANIMATED SERIES WTF
I JUST FOUND THIS WHEN I WAS LOOKING STUFF UP FOR THIS LIST
I TOTALLY FORGOT I LOVE IT OMG
Batman Beyond was just pure quality, like, I don’t even know
how to describe it. I mean, Terry’s lasted this long, and like Static got a
I know it’s not enough, but the DCAU Justice League had 2
women, one of whom was Hispanic, and a black man. It was a step up from
superfriends and gave the same needed representation that Static Shock provided.
Honestly, so much of this is just flat out continuity porn. Like
the first episode of the second season of Justice League is almost a finale to
StAS. It has quite a few callbacks that gave fans something to chew on.
-Reasonable discussion of religion
In the Terror Beyond from Justice League season 2, Wonder
Woman and Hawkgirl talk about their religions with actual tact and grace. There’s
a whole heck of a lot of tolerance and (minor spoilesrish thing) Hawkgirl does
not challenge Grundys beliefs. Despite disagreeing, seeing that his ideas won’t
hurt anyone she allows him to slip away thinking his soul is waiting. It’s very
mature and really shows what the universe is capable of.
Tears. Nothing but tears. I’m crying just thinking about it.
One of the best Funeral scenes. “Justice doesn’t always have to come from the
-A believable shock reveal
Hawkgirl betraying the team feels completely genuine,
fucking sad, but totally possible in the universe. This beats out every SHOCK
TWIST I’ve seen in the past 6 years. I feel like this treated its audience like
adults, and I’m grateful for it.
-The CADMUS arch.
Amanda Waller, Question, Captain Atom’s “Betrayal”, Lex’s manipulation,
Doctor Hamilton’s betrayal, the callback to A Better World, the romances
between Huntress/Question, and Ollie/Dinah, The superfriends reference in
Ultimen, the Suicide Squad in Task force X, AMANDA WALLER, giving the spotlight
to lesser known heroes, the political discussion, and THE EPILOGUE.
This gets it’s own bullet because it was a masterpiece of
storytelling. It NAILED Batman’s compassion, had a reference to MoTP, served as
a much needed finale for Batman Beyond, devolved Terry beautifully, AMANDA
FUCKIN WALLER, and a nice side message about how family can be forged.
And that’s just stopping at the basics of the DCAU, not
including Teen Titans, Young Justice, a slew of animated movies and other TV,
and all the comic tie ins.
I have strong opinions on the way people are taking the
female characters in the animated universe and reducing them to “Things for Bruce
to feel MANLY about”. The only one of FIVE in depth onscreen romances that even
comes close to this is Barbra, so I understand why people are mad.
Look, I’m not saying we shouldn’t critique, we should always
seek to improve, but ignoring any and all good Bruce Timm has done undermines
media as a whole. Should Barbra and Bruce be fucking in TKJ? Probably not.
Should they have been fucking in TAS? Nope. But saying that the “DCAU
needs to die” is shitting on years of animation and comic book history.