The Dark Knight Returns
Beware the Batman will return to television this May at the very “Batman-y hour” of 3AM. Toonami has once again given a second chance to an action cartoon that Cartoon Network kicked to the curb. Beware the Batman has received criticism for the CGI style, the decision to not use iconic Batman villains and the decision to make Katana Batman’s first partner instead of Robin. All these choices were made to set Beware apart from previous animated Batman incarnations. We already have many memorable animated stories featuring The Joker, Mr. Freeze, The Penguin, Cat Woman, etc. It was well past time some of the more obscure members of Batman’s expansive rouges’ gallery got a chance to be animated. The series is surprisingly dark for this era of Cartoon Network. It did not fit the image they were going for with the rest of the network. CN barely promoted the series and I honestly doubt many kids were aware the show was on. I was not too keen on the visual style myself, as I feel it is a downgrade from the better character models and vibrant scenery of Green Lantern but I am willing to see past that to enjoy the stories. I am glad Toonami is giving it second chance but the victory is bittersweet for anyone hoping this show would exceed the usual order of 26 episodes.
Young Justice and Green Lantern were at least granted the opportunity to finish in the day-light hours. The fact that 15 episodes of a Batman series will only be seen by adults at 3AM in the morning is a rude awakening for anyone hoping that more DC animated series will be made for The Cartoon Network any time soon. One door looks to be closing unless something changes but perhaps another door is opening after all this time? For now we have Beware the Batman. Isn’t it so typical that the first show they are willing to test on a different audience is a Batman series? For whatever reason they did not feel Green Lantern and Young Justice should air on Adult Swim’s Toonami block despite Warner and Turner agreeing to Toonami airing ThunderCats while it was still under contract for CN. It is possible YJ and GL are already out of CN’s hands but reruns of either might show up at some point if Beware the Batman does well enough and gets DC Entertainment on board with the idea. Unfortunately the possibility of any of those series getting new episodes is incredibly slim even if they were all ratings successes for Toonami. The future is more likely to be in new productions rather than continuations of old ones.
It baffles me that DC Entertainment continues to produce PG-13 animated films and live-action productions such as Arrow and the upcoming Flash and Gotham but they have yet to take the plunge and produce a show for Adult Swim, the #1 network with adults 18-34 in total day and prime time. They signed-off on two Robot Chicken specials so they should understand by now that DC characters are of interest to the Adult Swim audience. However, none of the PG-13 DC animated films from Warner Bros. Animation have been aired on Adult Swim despite the return of Toonami: one of DC animation’s primary homes on television in prior years. Airing one of those seems like the least they could try beyond Beware the Batman and it would not take much to effort since those films have already been produced. However, I feel by now they should see the potential for original DC series for Adult Swim’s Toonami block and if they cannot see the potential now then hopefully they will- presuming Beware the Batman pulls in great adult ratings despite the late time slot.
I realize this is not the Batman series that most people would have preferred but I implore you to give it an honest chance. Try not to get hung up on the visuals and enjoy the excellent character interactions between Batman, Alfred and Katana along with the gripping stories. There are some iconic Batman rouges in the mix despite the decision to avoid the usual suspects, especially in the episodes that have not aired. Look forward to seeing Ra’s Al Ghul, Harvey Dent and Deathstroke in the episodes to come.
This is not the Batman we thought we deserved but it is the Batman we need.