I am a Batman fan, and to a greater extent, a superhero geek, largely because of Batman: The Animated Series. Bruce Timm and Eric Radomski’s show hit right at the time when I was still watching cartoons, but was willing to accept ones with slightly more complex themes and characters, and I was already familiar with Batman thanks to the silly but wholly different 1960s TV series and Tim Burton’s movies.
The show brilliantly illustrated how Batman was surprisingly dark and twisted, but never off-putting or grotesque. Timm’s art and the outstanding writing crew drew into the Batman mythos in a way that found the balance from The Dark Knight Returns comic, turning the character on his head while still carving out a space that wasn’t completely in Burton’s films. Granted, episodic television gives creators a weekly half-hour template where they can expand the characters and mythos whereas films are confined by a few hours. Nevertheless, the minds behind The Animated Series took full advantage of their space to provide nuance and shading into every episode, and while it was largely an episodic series with the occasional two-parter, each episode was rich and presented Batman at his best.
While other adaptations haven’t necessarily done a disservice to Batman, The Animated Series through its design, artwork, writing, and form was able to take the character to new heights for the following reasons.