After Batman: The Animated Series ended, a legend passed on. It’s a show that has stood the test of time and is easily one of the greatest ever created. So, when Batman Beyond came along in 1999, it shocked the world, presenting us with a new Dark Knight and worthy successor to BTAS. Speaking about the show to Comics Online, the man behind the voice of Terry McGinnis, Will Friedle, summed it up perfectly. “You’re coming onto a project with Bruce Timm and Paul Dini and Alan Burnett. You’ve got Andrea Romano directing. You’re stepping right into the heart of the beast when it comes to animation at that point.
“So it was a trial by fire for me, and every day I would walk into work, kind of realizing how honored I was to be in the same room as these people that are animation icons.” Despite the show ending in 2001, it continued as part of DC canon, receiving its own comic book series and animated film. So, in celebration, we’ve tracked down all the hottest bits of trivia and information that you might not have known about Batman Beyond. Things are about to get shway in here, so buckle up.
15. NOT SO KID FRIENDLY
Speaking at the 2015 Rhode Island Comic Con, Will Friedle revealed that Batman Beyond had been pitched as a much more kid-friendly project than Batman: The Animated Series. This struck a chord with Jamie Kellner, the Head of Kids WB at the time, who kept bringing up how he wanted a show like Buffy the Vampire Slayer. How in the world he equated Buffy with a children’s program we’ll never know…
Well, Warner Bros. received a major surprise when the first episode of Batman Beyond was screened for the execs. After witnessing the neo-noir intro and the first few minutes of the pilot episode, they reportedly walked out of the screening, fuming and spitting blood. If it were up to them, there would’ve been more icy puns and nipples on the costumes, apparently.
14. ENTER THE HUNTRESS (OR MAYBE NOT)
Many conversations were had about which characters would appear in Batman Beyond. According to Bruce Timm, the producers toyed with the idea of bringing in a Batgirl-type character onto the show in the same way that Barbara Gordon appeared on Batman: The Animated Series. There was a lot of pressure to include a “Batgirl Beyond” from high up in Warner Bros. since this would appeal to the female demographic of the show.
Timm decided that Huntress would have made a better character and be more original than Batgirl. He even confirmed in an interview that they were working on a story featuring her for the show. However, nothing ever came of it, with the Helen Bertinelli version of the Huntress finally making her DC Animated Universe bow on Justice League Unlimited.
13. THE LITTLE MERMAID’S INFLUENCE
Jodi Benson provided the voice for Mareena Curry/Aquagirl in the two episodes of “The Call.” If you recall this storyline from season three, it’s the time when Superman shows up to offer Terry a spot in the Justice League; however, there’s also a traitor in the midst of the League and Batman needs to find out who it is.
Interestingly, this wasn’t the first time that Benson had provided the voice for an aquatic character. She’s much more well-known for voicing Princess Ariel in the Disney classic The Little Mermaid. Not only did she appear in the original smash hit, she also returned for the sequel, prequel, and the television series spinoff. Much like Kevin Conroy is the definitive voice of Bruce Wayne, Benson is the same to Ariel.
12. DIFFERENT NAMES
Whenever someone creates a new project, the hardest part isn’t deciding on the storyline, artwork, or release. Nope, the true test of one’s character is deciding on a name for it. Batman Beyond wasn’t immune to these problems, either. For a long time, the working title of the show was Batman Tomorrow. In fact, all development art had the name on it, but the network soon realized the name would be a hard sell and changed it to Batman Beyond.
In Europe, Latin America, Australia, South Africa, and Asia, the show was referred to as Batman of the Future, though. This was likely done because the name translates better into other languages, but we do hope that someone informs Warner Bros. that people around the world aren’t stupid and understand English even if it isn’t always their first language.
11. THE CURIOUS CASE OF THE LIVE-ACTION MOVIE
For years, fans of the show have clamored for a live-action film. While there have been rumors feeding the mill that there’s one in the pipeline, it’s worth noting that the talks took place ages ago so it’s possible that they’re still at the back of some exec’s mind. Speaking to Kevin Smith on the Fatman on Batman podcast, Paul Dini confirmed a live-action Batman Beyond film was considered.
“Alan [Burnett] and I actually worked on a Batman Beyond live-action feature. We worked with Boaz Yakin… Boaz was talking to the folks at Warners about some projects. One of the ideas that he liked was Batman Beyond… But he really wanted to work on it with Alan and myself. So we had a number of meetings, and we actually all worked on a draft together.” Ultimately, WB decided to fast-track Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker instead.
10. TERRY’S HIGH SCHOOL
One of the key selling points of Batman Beyond was that Terry McGinnis was a high-school student. Sure, he seemed to spend a lot more time running out of there to catch criminals or sleeping during classes, but he did attend Hamilton Hill High School with a host of other weird and wonderful characters.
The school’s name, though, was a nod and tribute to another Batman alumnus, Mayor Hamilton Hill. In Batman: The Animated Series, Mayor Hill was portrayed as an uncorrupt official who only wanted to do what was best for Gotham City and its people – it’s different from comic-book canon, but whatever. Batman ended up saving his life a few times over the course of the series and their relationship improved by the end of it.
9. THE VOICE OF POWERS
Batman Beyond did its villains differently by shifting the crime from the streets to the boardrooms of Gotham City. One of the show’s most prominent bad guys was Derek Powers, who went on to become the supervillain Blight. Much like another billionaire rogue named Lex Luthor, Powers was as charming as he was dangerous.
Speaking of Luthor, the man who voiced Powers, Sherman Howard, portrayed Superman’s legendary adversary in the live-action Superboy TV series. Howard almost received a second chance at the villain when he was considered for the character in Superman: The Animated Series, but that role went to Clancy Brown. Fortunately for Howard, the producers remembered his audition and called him back to play Powers, whom they felt was a similar character to Luthor.
8. DARWYN COOKE’S DESIGN
The late Darwyn Cooke was a phenomenal artist, with DC Comics describing him as “one of our medium’s true innovators”. He’s as important and relevant as the likes of Joe Kubert and Jack Kirby were to the comic book industry. Thus, it should come as no surprise that he had a helping hand in Batman Beyond.
Remember the impressive opening sequence of Batman Beyond that featured a whole lot of different animation styles and artwork? That was reportedly designed and put together by Cooke. Later in 2014, Cooke was able to direct a Batman Beyond short that celebrated Batman’s 75th anniversary in a way that only he could pull off. It was a true love letter to the different eras of Batman as Terry and Bruce fought a robotic Batman inside the Batcave.
7. NETWORK INTERFERENCE
As expected, no show is free from network interference. Those pesky execs think their notes mean something, when they’re actually driven by their desire to get their bonuses rather than add value to a product. In season two of Batman Beyond, WB insisted that a strong, young teenage girl be included and that she must know Terry’s secret – and so Max Gibson became the chosen one.
The writers, though, didn’t like the idea, arguing that Terry already had Bruce to speak to about his dual identity and there was a younger, gateway character in the form of Matt (Terry’s little brother). One of the writers of the show, Stan Berkowitz, said you can see exactly what he thinks of Max in the way Bruce Wayne treated her in the episode “Where’s Terry?”
6. WILL FRIEDLE’S FIRST TIME
Will Friedle was no stranger to TV, having portrayed Eric Matthews on Boy Meets World for seven seasons. However, Batman Beyond was a different kind of beast. It was his first voice acting role, imagining a brand-new character that fans might’ve easily hated because it wasn’t Bruce Wayne as Batman. To make matters worse, he had the shadow of Kevin Conroy looming over him.
Friedle has said that it actually helped he wasn’t voicing Bruce but Terry. This allowed him to create his own unique voice and play off Conroy’s Bruce better. As we all know now, Friedle established himself in this series and has gone on to have a successful career in voice acting, appearing in the likes of Kim Possible, Justice League Unlimited, Ultimate Spider-Man, Thundercats, and Guardians of the Galaxy.
5. OLD MAN WAYNE
Much like The Dark Knight Returns, Batman Beyond took influence from exploring a world where Bruce Wayne is now too old to be Batman. Sure, the old man could probably take down a few crooks in his senior years (as he did show us in some episodes), but his body wasn’t playing along in the long run.
Despite us knowing that Bruce is a greyed, senior citizen on the show, we never knew exactly how old he was. It’s revealed that he stopped fighting crime in 2019 – in what we presume to be his late 50s – and we met up with him again 20 years later in 2039. If we had to guess, we’d say that he must’ve been pushing close to 80 years old in Batman Beyond.
4. BRUCE TIMM’S JOKERZ
Fans owe Bruce Timm a debt of gratitude for everything he did in the DC Animated Universe. He was one of the masterminds and driving forces of all the outstanding programming, and he refused to compromise on the quality and standard. It’s safe to say that his attitude transferred to everyone else around him.
While recording for Batman Beyond, Timm was reportedly unhappy with the original actor for J-Man, the Jokerz gang leader – with the performance not being what he had in mind for the character. As a result, Alan Burnett advised him to do the voice himself. Timm agreed, presuming it would only be for a few episodes. Burnett and the other writers, however, purposely wrote the character into as many episodes as possible so Timm would have to voice him again.
3. MR. FREEZE’S APPEARANCE WAS ORIGINALLY A GAG
Batman: The Animated Series gave us one of the best origin stories for Mr. Freeze and cemented him as a tragic character in the Batman mythos. Originally, Batman Beyond intended to introduce the character in the show as a once-off gag. Terry would get a soda for Bruce and awkwardly see Freeze’s head in the fridge. They’d stare at each other for a moment and then Terry would close the fridge door.
Thankfully, someone discarded the idea as they felt it was insulting and unfitting for Mr. Freeze. Considering the history of the character in the DC Animated Universe, we’re glad they rewrote this because his appearance on Batman Beyond ended up being one of the best episodes of the series. It proved to be a worthy and fitting conclusion to Mr. Freeze’s arc.
2. RETURN OF THE PG-13 RATING
Not only is Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker one of the best animated films in comic history, it also became the first Batman animated adventure to receive a PG-13 rating. As expected, there was a more family-friendly version of the film cut, but you can easily find the PG-13 version that many fans consider to be the true version of the film.
When you watch it, it’s easy to see why it received the rating it did. It refers to Joker’s burial beneath Arkham, features brutal knife fights, as well as the Joker’s controversial “death.” In the edited version, the Clown Prince of Crime trips and electrocutes himself. However, in the PG-13 cut, the brainwashed Tim Drake fires the Joker’s “BANG!” gun, shooting the villain through the heart with a spear.
1. ANOTHER ROBIN?
What would Batman be without Robin? It seems like WB wondered the same thing, and toyed with the idea of Terry’s little brother, Matt, being in on his brother’s secret and helping out every now and then. There were even plans for him to have a secret entrance and a motorcycle so that he could act as a sidekick to Batman.
The idea was scrapped, though, but it’s currently being revisited in Dan Jurgens’ Batman Beyond comic book series as Matt now knows his brother’s secret identity and is actively involved. In recent issues, he’s taken a liking to finding out more about Robin and the teases are there that he’ll be adopting the mantle soon enough. Heck, even the cover for Batman Beyond #19 seems to spoil it.
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