There’s a robbery in Gotham. Armed men loot a bank and run away while shooting at people. Gotham PD is chasing them with the limited resources allotted to them. But their officers can’t keep up with the robbers.
Then Batman appears. He takes them on in man-to-man combat, beats them down in the blink of an eye and stands tall, cape whirling in the wind, watching over the city he protects.
That right there is the Batman we know, the badass caped crusader that has become the stuff of legends, even within the DC Universe.
That is also the opening scene of every episode of Batman: The Animated Series.
The show illustrated Batman as a dark and twisted character without being grotesque. Almost every version of the Dark Knight we see in the films portrays him as a buff billionaire who punches his way out of everything.
What they failed to understand is that Batman was a detective first. Batman: The Animated Series doesn’t forget that.
Batman would try and find clues, run them through the Batcomputer to get results before walking into a situation and punching his way out of it.
There were episodes where he would use his wits to outsmart his way out of certain death.
The show catered to the damaged psyche of Batman and pushed out a vigilante with wits, who happened to be extremely skilled at martial arts.
And while the show had its fair share of gore, it never swam in it. It was dark, often too dark for a cartoon series but it didn’t give itself a medal for the same.
The banter between Batman and the extended Bat-family was always a delight.
And let’s not forget the hilarious Harley Quinn, the show’s greatest gift to the Batman universe.
Even the villains, to their credit, make you sympathise. They were tragic, with the exception of the Joker.
Harley Quinn was in an abusive relationship and Mr. Freeze was never able to save his cryogenically frozen wife, Nora.
Paths chosen after moments of tragedy are often the ones that decide what your future holds. Batman: The Animated Series dealt with this with great maturity, providing a sharp, yet narrow contrast between the Dark Knight and the evil he fights.
While his villains used their personal tragedies as a license to do evil, Batman did not bow down to his demons. He used it as an excuse to fight crime, rid his city of evil altogether.
That being said, the show doesn’t spend a lot of time on the guilt-ridden brooding brawler from the films. It also focussed on the positive relationships he has with Robin, Commissioner Gordon, Alfred and others.
And whenever the show decided to cut the shit and give us the dreaded vigilante, it did so to battle the ultimate evil in Joker; a character brought to life by the terrifyingly brilliant Mark Hamill.
Batman: The Animated Series made sure that Batman was not a monotone character with nothing else to offer. It was a story-rich series that catered to both kids and adults alike and gave us the Batman we knew from the comics.
And for that very reason, it still remains the best adaption of the Caped Crusader till date.