Monday, February 28, 2011

Short-Lived, But Not Short on Promise

As a long-time Batman fan, mostly of the animated series from the early 1990’s, I find myself, nowadays looking for something to replace it.  Cartoon Network has various choices, but something about the animation and story-telling does nothing for me.  I was either late or early to work, I’m not sure which when I stumbled upon the Hub channel and saw Batman Beyond on. Granted, I know this show has long since stopped running, but it was a refreshing take on something that was so pivotal to the success of the early Batman cartoon.

If I can take you back down memory lane, the original Batman cartoon featured superb voice acting and engrossing story-telling.  The cartoon chronicled Batman through the middle part of his career and allowed the viewer to watch him train a protégé as well as watch that same protégé grow up and move on.

In the next iteration of Batman, Batman Beyond, the viewer is taken into the future where Bruce Wayne no longer dons the cap and cowl, having realised that his body has betrayed him, in a manner of speaking, and he can’t trust himself to defend the night as he did before.  As circumstances develop, Bruce has a run-in with the person who will become the next Batman, Terry McGinnis.  Terry loses his father and steals the bat suite from Batman, before proving that he is after the same cause that Bruce has been.  It takes some time, but the friendship develops.

Without going into more detail, this cartoon captures everything that is great about Batman and brings it into the next century.  The stories are written by the same pairing who did the acclaimed cartoon series from the 1990’s, and the look and feel, as well as voices, all match.

What makes this cartoon stand out from other cartoons is that it isn’t cartoon-y.  While we can all enjoy some morality with The Simpsons or even SpongeBob, both have the bright colours and child-like quality that separate them from anything for adults.  It is these Batman cartoons that are so different from anything else out there.  Even the modernised versions of Justice League don’t capture what has really become a mainstay with cartoons related to Batman: realism.

The Batman cartoons are real.  If he gets hit, exploded, shot at, he gets hurt.  Not like Superman who bullets bounce off of or Green Lantern who can make a shield appears out of nowhere.  Batman has gadgets, sure, but even those don’t have the Acme feel to them.

I’m rambling about this cartoon, the sequel more than the original, because it takes real life situations and doesn’t trivialise them, things happen, life happens.  And while we all may say we don’t want to deal with reality, sometimes it is nice to watch something and have it mimic reality in its own way. 

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