The first “rebirth” of an icon BATMAN BEYOND introduced a Dark Knight for a new generation and set-up a lasting legacy for one of its greatest and longest running characters.
When Warner Bros. Animation introduced Batman Beyond into its syndicated television line-up it had a seriously tough act to follow. Its award-winning predecessor Batman: The Animated Series had successfully run for four consecutive seasons, even daring a complete revamp and redesign that greatly appealed to a diversifying audience that had grown up with the series. Having left a vacuum series creators Bruce Timm, Paul Dini and Alan Burnett were already looking to the future and the next iteration of Gotham City’s greatest defender.
They found their muse in one Terry McGinnis, a high-schooler that would tempt fate and find himself inheriting a legacy unlike any other! Stylishly following in the same animated look of the series that helped launch it, Batman Beyond blended in seamlessly with Batman: The Animated Series and its companion spin-off Superman: The Animated Series. Grafting itself firmly in what already worked, the creative team didn’t have to go about “reinventing the wheel” and had complete freedom to enhance a mythology beyond Batman’s own narrative.
Set in an indeterminate future, the series introduced an aging Bruce Wayne (voiced by Kevin Conroy) who has become a recluse after finally admitting his mortality and hanging up the cowl for good. Wayne Manor is a dilapidated version of its former self, and when McGinnis (voiced by Will Friedle) accidentally stumbles into an abandoned Bat-Cave, his entire world explodes and the Batman is reborn! The future is which McGinnis and Wayne find themselves paired up to continue fighting crime is a marvel, but Gotham hasn’t changed very much.
Batman Beyond heralded a new age in the continuing legacy of the Dark Knight Detective.
Ironically the two-part premiere episode entitled “Rebirth” though it didn’t take its name from the current publishing-wide rebrand the imprint the DC Comics universe is in the midst, immediately gets to work to establish McGinnis’ place as the ambitious protege of Bruce Wayne’s, who finds himself determine to vindicate the murder of his father who gets caught up in some shady corporate conspiracy. The folly leads McGinnis to don a new and improved all-new, future-tech Bat-suit designed by Wayne.
BATMAN BEYOND, Batman, 1999 – 2001. (c) Warner Bros. Television/ Courtesy: Everett Collection.
It isn’t long before the Batman finds himself in the crosshairs of an entirely new series of rogues, some inspired by the gallery that dared meddle with the original Caped Crusader — Batman’s greatest adversary, The Joker has given lift to an underworld of disciples that terrorize Gothamites — and some clever new bad guys, that prove just as deadly! Batman Beyond had 52 original episodes and would be epilogued in an episode of the final season of its spin-off Justice League Unlimited which was set in the same era as Bruce Wayne’s Batman.
Available now for digital download, the entire series can be purchased on iTunes. The individual three seasons of the show can also be purchased on DVD, including the stand-alone full-length feature Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker on Blu-ray and DVD from the DC Comics Store.