Production Order: 01 & 02
Airdate Order: 1 & 2
Original Airdates: January 10, 1999
Directed by Alan Burnett, Paul Dini, & Stan Berkowitz
Kevin Conroy as Batman/Bruce Wayne
Will Friedle as Terry McGinnis/Batman
Lauren Tom as Dana Tan
Sherman Howard as Derek Powers
Ryan O'Donohue as Matt McGinnis
Michael Gross as Warren McGinnis
Teri Garr as Mary McGinnis
Bruce Timm as Jokerz Leader
George Takei as Mr. Fixx
I’ll admit it: I was skeptical of the animated series BATMAN BEYOND when I first heard its premise. A teenager – mentored by an aged Bruce Wayne – becomes Batman in a future DC universe. For historical purposes, BEYOND was part of the DC Animated Universe (which commenced in 1992 with BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES.)
I’m not totally sure how it was initially promoted, but I think there were some allusions made to being similar in tone to Spider-Man and that seeped into my consciousness at the time. Regardless, I tuned in when the series premiered on January 10, 1999 and much to my surprise, I liked it!
The opening segment of the first episode – and two-parter titled “Rebirth” – is one of the best Batman segments in the animated history of the character.
In it, we see a 60ish Bruce Wayne still fighting crime in Gotham as Batman in a high-tech Bat-suit. While saving a abducted heiress, Bruce succumbs to some sort of heart episode, becomes incapacitated, and gets the living sh*t beaten out of him by the kidnappers. In order to save himself, Bruce does the unthinkable: he grabs a gun and threatens to use it.
Upon returning to the Batcave, Bruce is so shaken by the entire event, he realizes that he can no longer continue on as Batman. He shuts it down with the promise of “Never again.”
Flash forward 20 years or so into the future. An aged Bruce is still alive, but lives alone – sans his dog “Ace – in Wayne Manor as a recluse. Gotham City is now called “Neo Gotham” and crime is as bad as it ever was back in the Bat-day. Speaking of which, the city is being terrorized by a gang known as “The Jokerz” who idolizes the long-deceased Clown Prince of Crime.
We meet high schooler Terry McGinnis who gets into an altercation with the aforementioned Jokerz resulting in a high-speed motorcycle chase that just so happens to end at the front of Wayne Manor. Cornered by The Jokerz, the elderly, cane-wielding Bruce Wayne proceeds to kick some ass and save Terry, but has another heart episode. Terry brings Bruce back to Wayne manor to retrieve his medication, returning the favor and saving Bruce. However, a snooping Terry is soon banished from Wayne Manor by Bruce after he discovers The Batcave and that – you guessed it – Gotham icon billionaire Bruce Wayne was the city’s legendary “The Batman.”
OK, I’m not going to waste anymore of our time there rehashing the plot of “Rebirth,” other than to say that Terry has an experience akin to Bruce (his father is murdered), returns to The Batcave and steals Bruce’s high-tech Bat-suit in order to bring his father’s killer(s) to justice. And ironically (but good for future plot devices), the killer(s) has a strong tie to one Mr. Bruce Wayne.
If you’ve yet to watch “Rebirth” (like Rick Shew, I’m sure), it’s absolutely worth a viewing. Not only was it a great setup/pilot episode for BATMAN BEYOND, but both parts together make for a fair to the middlin’ standalone animated movie
Anyway, thanks to “Rebirth,” I got hooked on BATMAN BEYOND and I ended up watching the series religiously from start to finish. In fact, it was the first animated Batman series that I watched first-run with my two oldest kids. BUT…
I’ve got to get this off my chest: I’m not a big fan of the BEYOND Bat-suit. It’s not the black and red combination (though I’d probably have gone with grey or silver instead of red), it’s the damn cowl. How in the hell does Terry (and Bruce originally) put on the cowl, have the whole thing cover his face, but yet his mouth is still exposed and moves freely?! Either do the cowl/mask Spider-Man style and cover the entire face – including the mouth – or go with a traditional Batman cowl/mask!
But whatever, I’m being petty (kinda...the mask/cowl is ridiculous).
BATMAN BEYOND is damn good and I’m looking forward to revisiting this series for BOF. - Bill "Jett" Ramey