There are few serious superhero fans who would contest the fact that, for 15-plus years, Warner Bros. Animation cranked out among the very best caped cartoons ever crafted. Starting with Batman: The Animated Series, into Superman: The Animated Series and up through Justice League Unlimited, an ambitious run of TV continuity not only lasted for well over a decade, it never let up on quality.
In between the many DC legacy showcases these productions created, a whole new character and future storyline was developed for this animation universe. Batman Beyond featured Terry McGinnis as the eponymous protagonist. A vision of a high-tech Gotham City no longer protected by an aged Bruce Wayne provided fertile ground for engaging stories which were at once totally fresh and at the same time rooted firmly in the Batman mythos. But like all such efforts, the show had some head-smacking moments which we’d rather forget.
Here are 15 Things About Batman Beyond That Make No Sense.
15. Bruce Steps into a Lazarus Pit, but His Rejuvenation Wears off in Days
In possibly the creepiest Batman story ever to hit TV, the elderly Bruce Wayne is approached by his old lover Talia – who also happens to be the daughter of his arch foe, Ra’s al Ghul. She’s looking good for a very old lady because she’s been using the restorative powers of the Lazarus Pit, a chemical bath which rejuvenates the elderly to their prime.
Bruce is tempted to be turned eternally 20-something, with the promise of spending eternity with his girlfriend. After some implied sex, it’s revealed that Talia’s body is actually housing Ra’s psyche, meaning Batman was really playing smoochies with his nemesis.
In most Batman stories, one dunk in the make-me-young-again sauce does the trick. Except in this episode, it takes a lot of dunks. So we get a 50-year old Bruce who, once he escapes in the end, says he’ll be back to his 80-year old self again in days. So much for continuity!
14. The Only Spinoff Was The (Lame) Zeta Project
Really The Zeta Project is the best the could do?
Okay, we don’t want to dump too hard on Zeta. Sure, he was a cool character when he premiered in the Batman Beyond episode “Zeta.” A killer robot with a heart of gold escapes captivity because he refuses to be a destructive tool of psychopaths. And Terry McGinnis was cool enough to help a cyber brother out, but a whole 2 seasons of this “on the run” routine got stale quickly.
Regardless, this uber-boring series got more than half the run that Beyond did. With so many great characters to choose from – Mad Stan, Max, even Ace the Wonder Dog – why go with this one? Maybe if our newest Batman had trained him to be a robot Robin or something, it would have made sense. With a world of possibilities issuing from a great series, this lackluster spinoff choice was a dumb move.
13. Barbara Gordon Easily Believes Terry Is a Killer
Back in the good old days, Batgirl was more than just a sidekick. She was Barbara Gordon, the daughter of legendary police commissioner Jim Gordon. Not only that: she dated Bruce Wayne for a while – an affair they both regret.
In the Batman Beyond universe, Babs is all grown up and a chip off the old block, rising in the ranks to the same top cop position her father had. Between knowing all the Batman secrets and the street sense she possesses, shouldn’t she know better than to believe her own lying eyes when she sees Terry McGinnis kill in cold blood?
That’s exactly what happens in the BB episode “Eyewitness.” Of course, it’s eventually all proven to be a set-up – an illusion created by the supervillain trickster Spellbinder. You would think if anybody should know better, it would be Ms. Gordon. Alas, we all make mistakes.
12. WB Never Did a Beyond Universe Justice League Spinoff
Without a doubt the most awesome guest stars on Batman Beyond ever were the future versions of The Justice League. The ageless Big Barda, a new Zen-like Green Lantern, Warhawk with his John Stewart/Shayera Hol pedigree, an updated Aquagirl, and a grandpa Superman. What’s not to love?
The two-parter from season 3’s “The Call” provided the best setup for a new iteration of the animated legacy which would really have hit it out of the park. Instead, WB used the fan love for this episode to launch the subsequent Justice League and Justice League Unlimited series, which were great, too. Still, it really feels like a golden opportunity was missed to explore a more hard-edged team, with the potential to create whole new heroes and villains.
11. The Show Never Had a Batgirl
Speaking of Barbara Gordon – how in the heck did the Batman Beyond producers miss an opportunity to make their own Batgirl? Total fail. They even had a natural choice in Max Gibson, Terry’s super-smart friend who also figured out his secret identity.
It seems like an opportunity missed not only for diversity, but also for an extra season’s worth of stories – or even the aforementioned potential spinoff. A “Batgirl Beyond” setup would have been a perfectly natural evolution for the show, and should have been obvious.
Fans finally got an iteration Batgirl in the Beyond comics and she was great. Not only that, a friendship with Barbara Gordon was struck up, which could have put the commissioner in the “bat-mentor” role a la Bruce Wayne. Hopefully we’ll see another version of this universe without such a glaring omission.
10. Turning off the Bat Suit Means Terry Can’t Move
Terry McGinnis’ bat-suit is an instant classic. The sleek design is smart, elegant, and iconic. It’s a complex piece of tech that allows Batman to fly, go into stealth mode, and much more. But it’s not like Iron Man’s armor. It’s definitely a more fabric-minded affair. It’s been torn, burned and battle-damaged over and over.
In the episode “Lost Soul”, that tech gets taken over by a disembodied AI, causing Terry to completely lose control of his actions. At one point, the AI forces Terry to walk into the ocean in order to drown him. Bruce Wayne remotely hits a “kill switch” which powers down the suit, kicking the AI out. But then, Terry finds he can’t move, and the rising tide threatens to drown him.
9. Terry Sure Has a Lot of Friends & Schoolmates Who Become Supervillains
If you know Terry McGinnis, there’s a good chance you are secretly a super bad guy. Old friends, high school jocks, significant others, and even some pals’ dads have all become evil-doers whom Batman had to fly in to take down.
An incomplete list of the rogues from Terry’s life includes Big Time, Willie Watt, a member of The Royal Flush Gang, Earthmover, Armory – and the list goes on. Yes, we get it – it’s an easy story device for the protagonist to have personal ties to adversaries – but that made a whole lot more sense when Bruce Wayne was Batman. After all, he’s a millionaire socialite who knows a lot of powerful people. Terry’s a high school kid.
8. Hasn’t Been Used Nearly Enough in the Comics
As mentioned earlier, Batman Beyond found a passionate fan base and most followers of the Batman mythos accept his existence and timeline as canon. For that reason, it’s weird that, since the show went off the air in 2000, there have only been a few dozen issues’ worth of comics stories about Terry McGinnis and his awesome power suit.
In that same time, there’s been hundreds if not thousands of appearances by other bat-characters like Robin, Nightwing, Batgirl, etc. Sure, those folks are legacy characters that stretch back decades, but not exploiting the McGinnis universe more thoroughly feels like a missed opportunity.
To be fair, replicating the strength of the show’s creative team may be harder to sustain in the world of monthly comics. There were a few decent runs of Beyond comics, but it all feels a lot thinner than it should be. Take heart – it’s never too late in comics. Hopefully DC gets the memo.
7. Batman Beyond Never Found a Super-Sidekick
For a lot of people, the idea of sidekicks is a relic from a more innocent age of comics. Everybody from Speedy to Kid Flash to Wonder Girl, and of course, Robin, may not feel like very modern. After all, who puts kids in deadly danger over and over? Somebody call child services!
The thing is, Batman Beyond sets us up for exactly this. Max Gibson, Terry McGinnis’ super-genius schoolmate, knows his secret identity anyway. She even gets seriously involved in plenty of adventures. At one point Max even says, “You call me Robin, and I’m out of here,” to which Terry replies “No problem, Alfred.” Funny joke, but the showrunners should have gone and made her a full-on hero in her own right.
6. There’s Never Been an Arkham/Rocksteady Video Game for Batman Beyond
First things first: we all must agree that Rocksteady’s amazing series of Batman games are the best superhero videogames ever. Arkham Asylum, Arkham City, and Arkham Knight are the very top of the genre and kick all sorts of ass. If one understands this, one must also understand how frustrating it is that the series ended without adding a chapter for the Terry McGinnis version of the character.
With a bat-suit literally designed for the digital age, Batman Beyond would just be the single coolest comic adaptation game of all time. The closest we got were some DLC skins, which look great, but don’t give the costume’s powers their due.
There’s been speculation that a proper Batman Beyond game is coming – we know Rocksteady is working on some top secret DC project – but to date, there’s been no modern update for the video game world of our beloved future-bat.
5. There’s Never Been a Feature Film Adaptation of Batman Beyond
Awesome story, great characters, fantastic visual design, legacy supporting roles, built-in fan base – how hard can this be? With the DCEU tapping on all sorts of comics properties, it’s kind of weird that they’re not looking at the Terry McGinnis story.
Unlike all the other planned entries like Justice League, Wonder Woman 2 and Aquaman, this future timeline wouldn’t need to line up so closely with the cinematic continuity. This gives Warner Bros. a chance to make a movie that can stand more firmly on its own, appealing to a forward-looking audience which would find such a glimpse of the future very appealing.
Although there have been rumors over the years that something is in development – director Boaz Yakin even pitched WB at one point – no solid plans have materialized yet. Hopefully, that will change soon.
4. Terry Was Literally Made to Be Batman, but Then Only Became Him by Chance
The last appearance of Terry McGinnis in the DC animated world didn’t happen when Batman Beyond was canceled, but four years later, when a flashback tale was told in the second season of Justice League Unlimited.
Set a few years after that last Beyond episode, “Epilogue” finds an older Terry McGinnis confronting a now-elderly Amanda Waller. He uncovers a crazy secret: Project Cadmus stole Bruce Wayne’s DNA in order to sire a new Batman for future use and used Terry’s unwitting parents to literally give birth to a bat-baby! But that effort – actually called “Project Batman Beyond” – was abandoned. And you know what? Terry eventually became Batman anyway!
Through a series of unlikely events, including his dad being killed and stumbling on Wayne Manor while on the run, Terry just happened to slip on the bat-suit and well… the rest is history. What a coincidence, right?
3. Terry Hides His Secret ID from Friends to Protect Them, Then Shares It with a Child
Look, nobody said being a superhero was easy. Maintaining secret identities can be draining, but it needs to happen: one can’t risk the lives of loved ones. While Max Gibson may have figured it out, Terry goes to great lengths to hide his other life from family, his girlfriend and other pals. But a little kid? That’s totally cool.
In the episode “Unmasked”, Batman faces an urgent moment when he needs to pull off the mask in order to gain a child’s trust. His gambit works, but, um, now there’s a young boy out there who knows who Batman is! It was a great dramatic device, and the kid keeps the secret, but for a super-smart detective with a high-tech suit on hand, you’d think maybe Terry could have been a little more creative.
2. Terry’s High School Is Major Hotspot for Very Bad Happenings
It’s not only Terry’s acquaintances who are often bad news; his school, Hamilton Hill High, is a nightmare magnet for serious trouble. Besides the aforementioned supervillains randomly roaming the hallways, athletes are doing Bane-drugs, video game addiction is making criminals of the kids, and the building itself even seems haunted in one episode. Seriously, Batman could practically just sit in the cafeteria or auditorium and wait for half of Gotham City’s criminal element to simply come to him.
This is nothing new, of course. Plenty of comics have used the device of school as a frequent setting for teenage heroes, but you would think by the 21st century, audiences might want a little more realism in their escapist fantasies. No? The show totally rules anyway? Okay, forget it, just pass the popcorn and keep the Batman Beyond goodness coming.
1. Batman Beyond’s Adventures Ended Too Soon
A lot of people were skeptical when Batman Beyond first showed up. Fans of Batman: The Animated Series and its follow-up The New Batman Adventures had already been spoiled with 6 seasons and 109 episodes of the much-beloved series, often considered the best iteration of Batman ever. So when a totally new concept showed up to replace that legendary run, seemingly with a tired “possible future” gimmick, people were less than thrilled. But boy, were they wrong!
The show was not only a worthy successor, it launched a whole new Batman legacy, fully respectful of canon, and fans loved it. But for whatever reasons, Warner Bros. cancelled it after 3 seasons with just 52 episodes. An early internet petition tried to revive the show in 2000, but it went nowhere. Why the powers that be ended the show so early is a mystery even Bruce Wayne might never be able to solve.
Did you notice any other nonsensical things about Batman Beyond? Sound off in the comments!
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