“Beware the Batman” might very well be known as the cartoon that Cartoon Network doesn’t want you to see. New episodes, the final episodes as they aren’t making any more, air Sunday mornings at 2:30 AM. Yeah, prime time, baby. Meet me after the jump to learn more about the Batman show Cartoon Network hates.
Batman has done animation before. There’s been Filmation in the 1960s and 70s, which I grew up with post-Batman ’66, and had that style. And of course he was part of the Super Friends done by Hanna-Barbera. Then there was “The Batman” with its insane athletic acrobatic Joker, theme by The Edge, and Justice League origin finale. And I can’t say enough good things about the most recent and DCU-centric team-up series “Brave and the Bold.”
The real animated triumph for Batman, and probably the best comic book adaptation ever done was “Batman: The Animated Series” by Paul Dini and Bruce Timm. This show and its spin-offs and sequels contain some of the best superhero television ever. “Superman: TAS,” “Batman Beyond,” and “Justice League,” which aired on Cartoon Network to much success, were all brilliant.
Taking its cues from the original graphic novel Batman: Earth One, the “Beware the Batman” series features a young Batman, still learning to be the hero we know, and Alfred, rather than a frail butler is his ex-secret agent bodyguard, instrumental in the boy’s training. This is so not to my taste, as I don’t want to see Batman become the hero, I want to see Batman be the hero.
Show runner Glen Murakami also wanted to take a different tact in the villains used. He decided to retire the traditional Bat-villains like Penguin, Catwoman, and the Joker, and use baddies not known or animated before. Thus we saw Magpie, Prof. Pyg and Mr. Toad, Anarky, Cypher, Humpty Dumpty, and even Metamorpho as an ersatz villain. Looming in the background are possibly Kobra, and definitely Lady Shiva, Ras Al Ghul, and the League of Assassins. Additionally, rather than the usual Robin or Batgirl, Batman was assisted by Katana, from the old Outsiders comics.
In the midst of the run of “Beware the Batman,” there were some changes in management and mission statements at Cartoon Network. They decided that they were anti-superhero, and beyond that, if they couldn’t sell a t-shirt or a backpack associated with a show they would not air it. Also, they were anti-girl, and anti-adult. I’m painting very broad strokes here, yes, but believe me, it’s on target.
They could not get it through their heads that there were adults that watched their programming (very much like what Nickelodeon is doing right now), or that a girl could appreciate “Young Justice,” “Green Lantern” or “Beware the Batman,” and that having female characters in those shows was just ridiculous. So they canned those programs.
While the future of “Beware the Batman” is up in the air, Cartoon Network has finally decided to air the remaining episodes of the series, in the power time slot of 2:30 in the morning on weekends. As a bonus, the knuckleheads who made the fun decisions to remove the show have left the Network, but who knows if we’ll have a reversal of fortune with superhero and female centric shows or not.
While I did not like “Beware the Batman” at first, it grew on me, and as the backstory was built, I became more involved in the characters. Now I’m a fan, and want to know what happens next. Rumor has it the Paul Kirk Manhunter is coming. Join me every Sunday morning at 2:30 AM to support the show so maybe we’ll get more. After all, it would be a sad 75th anniversary for Batman without a cool animated series on the air.