The future Batman looms over Gotham City. Artist: Bruce Timm.


Original medium: TV animation
Published by: Warner Bros. TV
First Appeared: 1999
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More thought went into the creation of Batman Beyond than into that of James Bond Jr., but the reasons behind the two creations are identical. They're to sell an old franchise to a new generation, by making a new character who has all the name recognition of the old one, plus the added appeal of youth and newness. The new action hero has all the familiar …

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… accoutrements of the old one, but is designed to appeal to a younger demographic — the people who watch TV cartoons.

The old Batman isn't done away with in Batman Beyond, but merely shuffled out of the way, by having retired from fighting crime by the time the new series began. Also marketed in some parts of the world as "Batman of the Future", Batman Beyond is set in a future generation, where Batman and all the characters associated with him are remembered as having once been relevant to the lives of the general public, but no longer seen in the daily news. A newer generation has grown up that knows them only as not-too-distant memories.

The Joker, for example, is long-dead in this scenario, but his appearance and theme have been adopted by a Gotham City street gang calling itself "Jokerz". Menaced by that gang, young Terry McGinnis found refuge in the home of elderly recluse Bruce Wayne, and accidentally discovered his benefactor had been Batman during his younger days. Terry returned later to "borrow" Batman's crime-fighting technology to avenge the death of his father, was discovered, and got permission not only to use it for that purpose, but to continue using it, even adopting the name, as Batman's successor.

Using the Batman name, and wearing a futuristic, modified version of the costume, Terry continued fighting crime on a regular basis. His antagonists included some of Batman's old foes, such as a slightly modified Kobra ("King Cobra"), the immortal Ra's al Ghul, and even a villain who appeared to be a reincarnation of The Joker himself. A regular associate was Police Commissioner Barbara Gordon, who had been Batgirl in her youth.

The show debuted January 10, 1999, on The WB TV Network, the same one that had aired Earthworm Jim and Freakazoid!. It appeared there for three seasons, totalling 52 episodes. Terry's voice was done by Will Friedle, who also voiced a couple of characters in Disney shows such as Kim Possible and Lilo & Stitch. The older Batman character was Kevin Conroy, a role that he also played in 21st century Static Shock, Justice League and Superman animation. The new generation's Commissioner Gordon was Stockard Channing, who is mostly known for face acting.

The same actors reprised their roles in a couple of TV movies and video games.

A comic book version was quickly added. DC Comics' Batman Beyond #1, the first of a six-issue limited series, had a cover date of March, 1999. It was written by Hilary J. Bader, who has scripted several comics related to DC's animated projects, with art by Rick Burchett (Blackhawk) and Terry Beatty (Ms. Tree). A regular series followed in November, written by Bader and drawn by Craig Rousseau (Impulse) and Rob Leigh (The Catwoman). The title lasted only a couple of years, but special comics have been published several times in the years since.

The Batman Beyond property is currently dormant, but is now firmly established as part of the DC Universe's future.


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Text ©2009 Donald D. Markstein. Art © DC Comics.