Batman Beyond was a 1999 television series developed by Bruce Timm, Paul Dini, and Alan Burnett; produced by Warner Bros. Animation in collaboration with DC Comics. This was done in order to continue the Batman legacy and it lasted three seasons with 52 episodes produced. It extended the stories of Bruce Wayne from Batman: The Animated Series, The New Batman Adventures, and DC’s animated Justice League cartoons. It was darker, more emotional and a psychological trip where science and technology changed the life of an old Bruce, who had retired from crime-fighting.
His mantle was passed to a youngster named Terry McGinnis in 2039 in Neo-Gotham. Terry endured a similar family tragedy to Bruce, and became the Batman in a cyberpunk and sci-fi world of crime which evolved from his predecessor’s time, but which still felt very much connected. Familiar faces returned but it was a myriad of new threats and allies that shaped this new mythos of the Dark Knight. Hailed for its mature themes, it packed a ton of moments that left our heads spinning because of how fresh and innovative they felt to the character. With that in mind, CBR decided to look at 15 WTF moments from the Batman Beyond universe.
SPOILER WARNING: Major spoilers ahead for the Batman Beyond series
15. BATMAN KILLS
In the Season Two episode “Eyewitness” we were fooled by an incident that created a lot of drama and extended the Bat-family’s rift. Barbara Gordon (formerly Batgirl and now Commissioner of Police), who was estranged from Bruce, grew angry at Batman for botching a sting operation and threatened to shut him down.
At a benefit dinner the night after, the show’s anarchist Mad Stan threatened the crowd with a bomb only for Batman to intervene once more. Stan had a big bomb and away from everyone, Barbara saw Batman stop him only to beat the lunatic to death with the bomb by smashing it on his head a couple times. Terry became a wanted man but he denied doing the crime. Bruce eventually discerned what happened — it was an illusion created by Spellbinder to trick Barbara. She would reconcile with Terry afterwards, but this illusion had us fooled… and worried.
14. TIM DRAKE’S PUNCH-LINE
The Return of the Joker animated movie was set in the cartoon’s continuity and focused on Bruce and Tim’s battle with the Joker. This WTF moment has a dual play because Barbara reveals Joker and Harley kidnapped Tim and mentally broke him as Robin. He would end up killing Joker but Tim had to resign from crime-fighting after the mental scars.
Years later, Joker resurfaced and Terry discovered that through microchip technology, Joker was able to imprint his genetic code and transform an older Tim into the villain. It was a very terrifying and WTF moment, pushing another stake into the Bat-family as Joker’s ghost continued to haunt Bruce’s team. Terry destroyed the chip, thus saving Tim, who would go on to make amends with Bruce. Ironically, Terry would hand the Batman Beyond mantle off to Tim in the comics later on.
13. A BROKEN BANE
In Season One, “The Winning Edge” focused on a very real-world issue of addiction with teens and substance abuse. It dealt with “slappers,” which kids were placing on their skin to strengthen their body. Bruce and Terry realized it contained Venom (the substance Bane used to bulk up in battle) and went after the supplier.
Thinking it was Bane, Terry ended up finding him withered and on a respirator in his home. He was clinging to life due to the side effects of years of using the substance, rendering him very much near death. His caretaker, Jackson Chappell, turned out to be the brains of this new operation. Batman stopped him but the sight of a broken Bane who couldn’t even walk or breathe properly really hit home as it painted him as a mere shell of the brute we knew.
12. BLIGHT IS BORN
In the series premiere ,”Rebirth,” Terry tracked his father’s death to Derek Powers, who was heading up the Wayne-Powers company merger. This included some shady deals including creating biological weapons. When Terry took Bruce’s new suit without him knowing, he went after Derek and his henchman Mr. Fixx, who was revealed as his father’s killer.
In the fight, Terry threw a canister at Derek, who shot and broke it, thus exposing him to radiation. Terry went after Fixx, but what happened to Derek was pretty shocking as it was a rash and inexperienced moment from the rookie Batman. His skin would peel to reveal a new villain called Blight, who would lead the businessman on a rigorous search for a cure, and also on a lifelong vendetta against Batman.
11. BARBARA & BRUCE’S ROMANCE
“A Touch of Curaré” was an episode in Season One which brought crucial secrets to light. Commissioner Gordon and her husband, Sam, found themselves as the targets for Curaré, a member of the League of Assassins. However, in talking to a stubborn Barbara, Terry unearthed some information that rocked everything we believed in with respect to the Bat-family.
Over coffee she divulged that her romance with Nightwing was “puppy love” and that she stayed behind with Bruce as Batgirl. Terry asked if it was more than platonic and she shot a wry smile, which hinted at the opposite being true. His response was the same as ours as she revealed she didn’t like what Bruce became as a loner. This served as precursor to the Batman Beyond comics where it was revealed she actually lost Bruce’s baby.
10. THE CAT’S OUT OF THE BAG
“Dead Man’s Hand” in Season One tested Terry as an adult. He ran afoul of the Royal Flush gang, but was distracted by a break-up with Dana, only to hook up with a new girl called Melanie. Sadly, she was revealed to be part of the gang, going by the codename “Ten.”
This episode saw a petulant Terry lashing out at Bruce, as he felt hurt by Dana. Then, things got even more complicated with Melanie’s secret identity getting in the way. When Terry finally got back on track, the entire gang, including a redeemed Ten, were imprisoned. Terry and Bruce reconciled in a heartwarming moment where he asked his mentor if he ever experienced this kind of thing. Bruce replied, “Let me tell you about a woman named Selina Kyle.” The Catwoman name-drop happened once in the series but it remains one of its best easter-eggs.
9. THE TASTE OF INQUE
Inque, a femme fatale whose body was able to shift due to its fluid-like properties, was one of Terry’s biggest rivals throughout the series. He often used cryogenic methods to freeze her and defeat the villainess but she kept escaping, similarly to Joker back in Bruce’s heyday.
In Season Three’s “Inqueling,” things went badly for her as her body structure was becoming unstable and she needed chemical assistance. She contacted the daughter she abandoned, Deanna, to help steal the necessary ingredients. However, when Inque powered up again, Deanna stunned fans with a sadistic twist. During battle, Inque’s body broke down again and Deanna revealed she tampered with the chemical injections in order to kill her mother. No one expected such a backstabbing moment and it was all because the young lady now had access to her mother’s riches. It was an underhanded, diabolical move and one Inque would never forget.
8. AMANDA WALLER’S VISION
In Justice League Unlimited the cartoon era of Batman Beyond wrapped with “Epilogue.” This was an episode with a few mind-blowing reveals that changed a lot of what Bruce Timm and company shaped for so many years. It was very character-driven and focused on the motivations of the Batmen, as well as circumstances that paved the way for their existence.
An older Terry held counsel with Amanda Waller and she went in depth into her rivalry and respect for Bruce as Batman. In an out-of-character move, she showed her entire hand and told Terry all her secrets. One of them was a program to clone Bruce Wayne because she knew that deep down, Gotham and the entire world would always need a Batman. She saw no one fit for the role besides Bruce himself. It was an understandable reveal in the name of justice.
7. A POWER PLAY
Season One ended with “Ascension,” the main theme of which centered around betrayal. Derek’s condition was worsening as his skin was shedding more and he was going insane. Trying to stave off his Blight persona, he turned to his son Paxton. However, Paxton made a power-play which saw Derek exposed on television as a monstrosity.
It made us think of Lex Luthor because he saw the opportunity to seize power! Batman would get caught in this web of deceit and Paxton had to live with an eye over his shoulder after the betrayal. He made a dangerous enemy that day and Batman was now worried that he had yet another schemer in Gotham. Paxton was clearly ready to do anything to take what he wanted.
6. BRUCEY’S GOT A GUN
In “Rebirth,” the premise for the series was set when an older Bruce took on some thugs to rescue a lady. He wore the new suit and just when he seemed victorious, he clutched his chest in what seemed like cardiac arrest. The gangsters then decided to capitalize and beat him up, only for Batman to pull a gun and scare them off.
The cops arrived and he retired to the cave, where he put the suit in its case and vowed “never again.” We can’t blame him because it was clear Bruce’s body wasn’t able to carry on. However, it still doesn’t take away from that chilling image of Batman holding a gun, hands shaking. He broke his rule of “no guns” as a gun killed his parents. This scene shook us to the core.
5. TERRY PROPOSES
“Epilogue” shed light into Terry’s background, as well as the details revolving around his bloodline. The revelations shaped his destiny and taught him about family. More importantly, it opened him up to forgiveness and love, which he often begged of Dana. Crime-fighting never allowed him to treat her fairly but now he was older and wiser, especially in matters of the heart.
He proposed to her, ready to press on with the future. This is less haunting than other entries, but it did, in many ways, “disturb” the Batman universe, as it gave us closure to a relationship for a Batman — not something ever truly done beore. It’s not often Batman finds love and thankfully, this was the case here. She was pure and good, making it a happy moment but still, a surprising one because Batmen never really end up happily married.
4. THE AL-GHUL SWITCHAROO
“Out of the Past” in Season 3 had a couple WTF moments in itself. It revolved around Bruce Wayne’s former love, Talia, coming back to offer him a shot at being eternally young again, maybe even a chance at crime-fighting once more. However, Bruce and Terry came to realize that Talia died and Ra’s actually imprinted his memory into her body! He was there to trick Bruce so that he could transfer his consciousness into that of the first Dark Knight.
This reveal left our jaws dropped because we always expected Talia to live forever with the Lazarus Pit, and not Ra’s. What made the WTF moment even more disturbing was that Talia kissed Bruce, which meant it was actually Ra’s making out with him — in many ways delivering what he hoped would be the final kiss of death!
3. SUPERMAN’S BETRAYAL
In Season Three, fans were treated to an expansion of the mythos with the Justice League coming into play. Superman arrived to recruit Terry into a team that also boasted the likes of Green Lantern and Warhawk, who was the son of John Stewart and Hawkgirl from the Justice League cartoon. Bruce had cut ties with them and warned Terry, who still wanted to experience life as a member of the League.
Superman showed him the grandeur of the League but warned against a traitor. It blew our minds when it turned out to be the last son of Krypton himself! Starro was the culprit, as the alien had Superman under mind-control, but eventually Batman saved the heroes. However, it wasn’t without tension as Bruce was somewhat justified in never really trusting Kal-El, which Terry found out the hard way.
2. THE NEW BATMAN
In “Rebirth,” we saw a grief-stricken Terry lashing out after his father’s death, which led to a showdown with the Jokerz, a gang inspired by the Clown Prince of Crime. Bruce would ironically help in the fight, and Terry began to stitch things together, ending up at Bruce’s residence. He snuck in and discovered the Batman Beyond suit, ready to steal it to avenge his dad.
It was a ground-breaking moment as many fans expected that if the mantle was passed down, it would go to Tim or Dick Grayson (Nightwing). Terry, as a newly created character, proved to be popular with fans and silenced the cynical detractors. The shot of him staring at the suit remains iconic, as it represented the torch being passed to a new generation, leaving us concerned as to if he could really live up to expectations.
1. BRUCE… YOU ARE THE FATHER!
Another major secret in “Epilogue” that Waller spilled was the truth behind Terry’s lineage. He thought he was a clone of Bruce, but she revealed that he actually wasn’t. She instead divulged that Bruce was really Terry’s biological father as a result of her using genetic tampering when her cloning plans didn’t produce results.
This allows Terry to start treating Bruce like a father, erasing years of anger and hate. It stunned fans to see how relieved Terry was, ready to finally let go of the past. The revelation, however, was one fans struggled to get over because no one expected Bruce to have a son. Whether or not you felt this was forced or an unnecessary retcon, if you were a fan of Terry, it did feel right as it made up for Bruce never passing the torch down to Dick or Tim properly.
Let us know in the comments what were the most WTF moments for you in Batman Beyond!
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