I remember waking up on the morning of September 5, 1992. My parents changed the dial to a local station and the Fox Kids logo appeared on the screen. I heard the animated emcee say something like, “Up next, the world premiere of Batman.” Suddenly, the iconic theme song composed by Danny Elfman came on with images of a bank robbery gone wrong. Soon, I saw HIM for the first time (at least that I remember.) He was a shadow, a mysterious figure, and a Dark Knight. This was the Batman. I sat up straight and did not utter a word as the title card for the episode appeared, “On Leather Wings.”
‘Batman: The Animated Series’ would go on for four seasons, three films (including one theatrical), a revamp, and several spin-offs, creating what fans adoringly call the DC Animated Universe. It was the first to feature Kevin Conroy voicing Bruce Wayne and Mark Hamill voicing his arch-enemy the Joker. It was helmed by several creative writers and producers such as Bruce Timm, Alan Burnett, Eric Radomski, and, of course, Paul Dini, the co-creator of Harley Quinn. This femme fatale would become a mainstay in DC Comics thanks, in part, to voice actress Arleen Sorkin.
In 2022, fans all around the world are celebrating the 30th anniversary of the legendary series. This Saturday morning cartoon haunted my weekends for the next decade and beyond. It was the first time I had ever been exposed to anything from the comic book world. Its serious take on the character created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger is something I would not fully appreciate until I was older, but my love for the Batman mythos opened up the world of the DC Universe and later Marvel Comics when I started watching the equally iconic ‘Spider-Man: The Animated Series.’
Its success is unparalleled and while many later Batman cartoons (sometimes even feature films) have tried to duplicate its influence, it is fair to say that none, no matter how well-made, have come close to enduring itself to fans’ hearts like ‘Batman: The Animated Series.’ I, for one, am thrilled to have been able to enjoy it for how it inspired my childhood. Hopefully, with home video releases and streaming, more fans will be able to enjoy this truly masterful take on the Batman.