Although, Marvel Comics has dominated the cinematic box office, DC has (in my opinion) conquered animation. By making the smart decision of adapting some of their most classic and well-known graphic novels, DC has outdistanced Marvel, at least, in this field. Through a partnership with Warner Bros. Animation, they’ve featured just about every one of their characters in both animated movies, as well as, series. And now, this summer on the Cartoon Network, comes the latest animated reboot of DC’s Dark Knight………Beware the Batman.
I was apprehensive, at first, when I heard they were releasing this show. I felt it was too soon after the cancellation of the 2008-2011 series Batman: The Brave and The Bold. What peaked my interest this time out were two things: 1. The creators would be doing away with the “Bat Family” and concentrate just on Bruce Wayne. And 2. They would be showcasing more recent and off-kilter villains of the canon like Professor Pyg, Toad, and Magpie.
First off, the animation (computer generated) is gorgeous. However, there were times when I found it too clean and fluid for my tastes. The standout in the first episode I saw was the music. It really established a tone that was different from the previous Batman cartoons, emphasizing more of that schizophrenic spirit. My main criticism is involving the characters. In this series, Alfred the butler is more Cockney British by way of Jason Statham than he is by more polished David Niven. His background as a former agent in England’s M-I6 is introduced and as far as I’m concerned, it hues too close with Bruce’s character. One of the things I liked best about the previously depicted Alfreds was the “calm’ and the “storm” dynamic in his relationship with Bruce. Alfred works best as a passive aggressive influence to keep Bruce’s rage and grief focused on the Batman’s mission. I can accept Alfred having a past as a combat medic within the context of a circa WW2 English infantry unit. Him being “007” is just too ludicrous. However, it seems his role will be limited by the introduction of a new bodyguard for Bruce, a Japanese woman named Katana (the character from the Outsiders).
What I also liked best was the appearance of Batman this time out. This Batman harkens back to the Bob Kane era, with long ears, black on black costume, and more streamlined cape. My only issue is with the voice actor, Anthony Ruivivar (of Third Watch fame). I get that this series is based on Bruce’s early career as the Batman and casting Kevin Conroy would be repetitive (despite his status as being the fan’s “gold standard” when it comes to the voice of the Batman). I just wished they would have found an actor a little less nondescript. Although Conroy is THE Batman, I urge you to watch the animated adaptation of comic creator Darwyn Cooke’s Justice League: The New Frontier and check out actor Jeremy Sisto’s (of the HBO series Six Feet Under) otherworldly performance of the Dark Knight. Truth be told, it is my personal favorite out of all the animated Batmans.
Watch the following clip (a scene between Batman and J’onn J’onzz) to see what I’m talking about: