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Batman: The Animated Series - Why Couldn't Talia and Batman Find Love?

The Wrap-Up

Design-y

Kevin Altieri's episodes tend to have a signature look to them. Batman just seems broader and taller with Altieri direction. Not to mention, that famous chin somehow seems even longer. (And that hawk-like beak on his cowl is present here. Is it possible this actually came from Altieri and not the overseas studios?)

You'll also notice more outfit changes for Bruce in "Avatar" than normal. His bulky, unfashionable brown and yellow suit is replaced with several 1930s vintage outfits.

Continuity Notes

Batman believes Ra's dead at the beginning of "Avatar" because of "The Demon's Quest"'s finale. That episode also had Talia swear that she shares her father's vision, but doesn't believe in his methods. "Demon Seed" ends with Talia embracing those methods, even as Batman warns millions will die.

As for "Avatar"'s assertion that Ra's is willing to sacrifice Talia for his goals, his later DCAU appearances contradict this.  Talia's decision to side with Ra's at this episode's end could justify his change of mind.

Hey, I Know that Voice

Helen Slater provided the voice of Talia for most of her DCAU appearances. No offense to Gal Gadot, but many forget that Slater was the first actress to headline a superhero film back in 1984's Supergirl.

Accomplished British actor David Warner brought the right mix of class and menace to the role of Ra's al Ghul. As recently revealed, an early name kicked around for this part was Patrick Stewart, but the producers didn't think he'd take a voiceover job.

Battle of the Bad Bat-Breakups

The Batman/Talia dynamic requires the audience to root for the impossible.  Talia must betray Ra's, and Batman must drop the angst and open himself up to love.  Since both would severely disrupt the status quo, it's unlikely either will happen.  That means a story's execution has to nimbly distract from the obvious.  How do you keep the audience invested in a fruitless relationship?

"Avatar" is largely an excuse to pair them together, to move the show out of Gotham and adapt the trappings of old-school Hollywood.  (Or Indiana Jones.)  The plot device is largely irrelevant; the villain memorable only for her oddness.  But that final scene, the sting of Talia's betrayal, was one of Batman's finest endings.

"Demon Seed" follows a similar path, right down to Talia making that wrong final choice.  Puckett's conclusion likely does work best within the context of the stories.  In "Avatar," Talia sides with Ra's even after he left her to die with Batman.  "Demon Seed" has her mourning Ra's death, attempting to fulfill his dreams, and reaffirming her devotion when she learns he's actually alive.  Sure, she should be angry at him for the deception, but leaving her for dead would be the greater sin.

As a Talia story, "Demon Seed" is the winner.  She has more of an emotional arc, and her decisions have a more plausible justification.  "Avatar," however, is more entertaining overall.  Globetrotting works best with a full twenty minutes to explore the concept, understandably.  Plus, the visuals are amazing, and the ending!  It sums up the Batman/Talia dynamic perfectly, and leaves the audience with an unforgettable closing shot.  Uniquely Batman, in the best possible way.

Thanks to Gravity Falls Poland for the suggestion.  Any tips of your own? Just leave a comment or contact me on Twitter.

 

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