Few adaptations are as beloved as Batman: The Animated Series, however, the series’ decision to update character designs in between its original run and The New Batman Adventures is one aspect that did not sit right with fans. Now, Timmverse legend and Harley Quinn co-creator Paul Dini has revealed what led to the polarizing changes.
“I think that was all from the desires of [B: TAS co-creator] Bruce Timm and the other artists and directors to vary the look of the characters somewhat between iterations,” Dini recently told CBR. “Partially it was to make it look a little more like the new look of the Superman animated series, but also to just experiment and refine a few things.”
Some of the design changes were warmly received by fans, such as the choice to have an older version of Dick Grayson portraying his popular alter ego Nightwing, and giving Scarecrow a creepy new visage that even included a frayed noose around his neck. Others, though, didn’t go over as well. Specifically, the choices to give Joker hollowed-out, black eyes, Catwoman abnormally chalky skin, and Bane’s new mask left some fans cold.
Being a veteran of the industry since the 1980s, Dini found the fan reaction to the design changes a bit odd, especially given that character refining has been a common practice in animation for decades. “That tradition of visual reinvention has always been a part of Warner Bros Animation,” Dini stated. “No one ever asks about Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck getting visually redefined over the years, it was just something the directors did over time.”
There is also a commercial reason for animation studios to change the look of their characters. Given that the majority of revenue surrounding animation properties comes from merchandising rights for toys, new designs give companies new editions to place on store shelves.
Starring Kevin Conroy, Efrem Zimbalist Jr. and Mark Hamill, Batman: The Animated Series debuted in 1992, and stands as one of the most acclaimed adaptations of comic books to another medium. The series won four Emmy Award and ran from 1992 to 1995, with follow-up series The New Batman Adventures airing from 1997 to 1999, for a total of 109 episodes that are available for streaming currently through Amazon Video. Fans can also look for the long-awaited complete Blu-ray set of the series that is projected to release sometime next year.
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