Concept Art for Unmade Batman ‘Gotham High’ Animated Series

Published 4 years ago by , Updated February 7th, 2011 at 1:32 pm,

gotham high cartoon that almost was concept art Concept Art for Unmade Batman Gotham High Animated Series

There’s a reason Batman is the most adapted comic book character of all time – from movie serials to live action television to animated television to novels to Pez dispensers to feature films (seven in all, if you don’t count Mask of the Phantasm) and so on – it’s because he’s awesome. Straight up.

Over a year ago, artists Jeffrey Thomas and Celeste Green were approached by DC to create a “spec series” based on an old drawing by Thomas. The series, which followed a teenage Bruce Wayne going to school at Gotham High, was never picked up. But now, thanks to the all-powerful, all-knowing Internet, we can look at what could’ve been.

The animated series would have adhered to those high school stereotypes we all know and love. There was the art geek (Clayface), the politically-minded class president (Two-Face), the dorky, fat kid (The Penguin), the super jock (Killer Croc), the incredibly intelligent nerdball (The Riddler), the cute, smart, girl-next-door type (Batgirl), the hipster (Scarecrow), the dangerously hot chick (Catwoman), the Jugallo (The Joker) and his Jugalette (Harley Quinn), the sexy goth girl (Poison Ivy), the meatheaded, steroid-pumping wrestler (Bane), the “cool” guy (Mr. Freeze), and, in the middle, cooler than all of them — Bruce Wayne.

Check out the concept art below, which reimagines Bruce Wayne and his rogues gallery as high school students:

And check out the original drawing that started it all:

gotham high original drawing 280x385 Concept Art for Unmade Batman Gotham High Animated Series

Check out Jeff and Celeste’s synopsis for the show below:

“We all go through incredible changes as teenagers: growth spurts, bad skin, a sudden insatiable need to uphold justice and avenge your murdered parents…. Well, that is, if you’re Bruce Wayne. As if being a freshman at Gotham High wasn’t tough enough, Bruce’s insomnia and technological fascinations are taking their toll. Instead of spending his time studying, he has begun to obsess over an emerging personality trait: Batman. But under the watchful eye of his guardian and steward, Alfred Pennyworth, Bruce is forced to put his intelligence to good use: graduating high school. But given his classmates, can Bruce survive Gotham High?”

Call me certifiable, but I would’ve loved to see this thing come to fruition. At first glance, Gotham High just looks like they replaced all the X-Men characters from X-Men: Evolution with Batman and company. However, whereas I couldn’t stand Evolution – it took itself way too seriously for a show about superheroes in high school – Gotham High looks fantastic to me in a really over-the-top, tongue-in-cheek sort of way. Almost like The Muppet Babies meets Clone High meets Batman: The Animated Series, all of which are some of my all-time favorite shows. What could’ve possibly gone wrong?

muppet babies clone high batman Concept Art for Unmade Batman Gotham High Animated Series

I’m not saying Gotham High would’ve been as good as all those shows, or even good. I’m just saying, as long as they would’ve kept it weird, funny, and incredibly self-aware…it could’ve been.

Source: Jeff and Celeste [via io9]

TAGS: Batman
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  1. Oh wow. And this was scraped because? Like you said, if it was made to be funny and over the top, this would have been a hit….well, here’s hoping it can still be…

  2. Cool! Nolan will have none of it though lol.

  3. Huh.

    I would have been interested in watching that.

    And I would most certainly have counted Mask Of The Phantasm as a cinematic outing for the Dark Knight, mainly because its the best Batman feature film!!! IMO.

    • @ DSM: I totally agree on both counts. this could have been way cool.

  4. “But under the watchful eye of his guardian and steward, Alfred Pennyworth, Bruce is forced to put his intelligence to good use: graduating high school.”

    Remember kids, stay in school, don’t do drugs, and resist the urge to go on a violent crusade to rid the halls of injustice!

    Also, why are Bruce and Barbara wearing bat-symbols? Don’t tell me that they’d be so obtuse as to make the Gotham High team “The Bats”.

    • It’s concept art, it was probably just to give the studio some idea of how everything might look.

  5. It looks cool to a point. I would have rather them kept going on The Batman. I loved the animated series and Batman beyond was just awesome. Brave and the Bold is really campy but has it’s moments. The Batman was my favorite series they have made. It was badass. It also spawned Batman vs Dracula which is one of my favorite of the feature films. It got really good when they added the sidekicks. I liked that they added Batgirl first and then Robin. The fact that Robin was only 10-12 yrs old made me happy too. To me that adds a lot to the Batman/Robin friendship. I think he has more in common with the younger versions because that is closer to the age that Bruce was when Thomas and Martha died. Then they started adding the JLA. I really could have dealt with a couple of more seasons.
    As far as X-men Evolution. I loved that show. It was awesome. It was smartly written and I liked the animation. I also liked that they made Gambit and Colossus part of the Brotherhood to start. That is really where they needed to be to begin with IMO.
    Also IMO, this show looks more like Spectacular Spider-man mixed with X-Men Evolution with a little Ironman Armored Adventures for good measure. It just looks like they were trying to cash in on what Marvels been doing well for years. I am really glad they didn’t do this. I do like the concept art though. It could make a pretty cool one shot Graphic Novel. I would buy that.

    • Agree on Gambit, disagree on Colossus. Would have gone against everything he stood for in the comics, IMO.

  6. This is some awesome concept art! We need more of this crazy ideas out there! Too bad the studios don’t have the courage to take a leap!

    Hopefully someone will see the potential here and make it real!! 😀

  7. I would so look forward to this if only someone would take a leap of faith.

  8. Looks like it would be a good comedy animated series, i think. Might be good.

  9. I would have watched it, looks good. Looks better than alot of the animated stuff thats being showed today.

  10. I”m glad it got canned. This made no sense at all. It sounds stupid. Cliche in every way. I dont understand why the author assumes that X-men Evolution was that bad an idea- making them high schoolers. In the real X-men comic books, when they started they were all young. Scott and Jean would reasonably be put in their 20’s. If they put Wolverine as a teenager too, that would have messed it all up. But remember there was always a school for gifted youngsters.

    Now, where is the connection with Batman highschool? Ridiculous! So, coincedentally Bruce Wayne goes to school with all his worst enemies? Even if it is a spoof and not to be taken seriously, thats really stretching it- and it’s really pulling us back to the camp Batman era. Joker is the class clown, and Two face is class president. Poison Ivy is the liberal eco activist etc etc. What does this have to do with Batman at all? Kids grow up having a warped perspective and impression of what the franchise is about? I loved Batman Beyond cause it introduced all the Highschool elements in a smart way, not just throwing characters in scenarios for the sake of humor and pop-exploitation.

    • My point was only that X-Men Evolution was supposed to be “your typical high school” with the X-Men in it — which is fine as a concept, I guess, but in the case of X-Men Evolution, was overwrought and over-serious. The faux-extreme “coolness” and bristling angst had me breaking out in hives. Had it genuinely been funny, I probably would’ve taken to it more.

      Also, I’m pretty sure that this Gotham High wouldn’t have taken place “in continuity.” It seems to be the Batman story reimagined in high school. So this isn’t a prequel to Batman Begins, or the Batman of the DCU. This just is what it is.

  11. i would have defo checked this out it looks like a great idea i wonder who the teachers woulda been

  12. @ bigd

    Lol. I bet Commissioner Gordon would of been principal,lol.

    • lol yeah that would be cool maybe have alfred as the p.e teacher and mr freeze as the science teacher =)

      • I keep thinking of Gravedale High.

  13. Ben,

    Yeah, I’m going to call you certifiable, bud. 8)


    • Haha. Thanks, Vic.

  14. This idea sounds so stupid, I don´t even have words to express HOW stupid it sounds.

  15. I’m guessing this article exists purely to promote the 2 bozos named in this article. How utterly transparent. Gotham High looks like ass.

    • Are you serious? Why would I have any interest in promoting two artists I’ve never heard of before? Google “Gotham High.” It’s being discussed and reported on all over the internet. I just thought it was funny and worth talking about.

    • Dexter,

      Yes, of course, you’re right. We MUST have been paid some promotional fee to highlight this article that we thought would be of interest to our readers since we never cover superhero related movie and TV news.

      Oh… wait… we DO cover that. Every day.

      And I guess these sites were all paid off or had some sort of ulterior motive as well:

      Have a nice day,


      • Vic, I hope Jackie Earle Haley is able to accurately capture your humor in the Screen Rant movie. 😉

        • As long as Vic has a Stan Lee like cameo in the Screenrant movie, I´ll watch it. Maybe we can get Robert Downey Jr. to play Ben Moore… 😀

          • Haha. Although I don’t know if we look at all alike, I would be pretty ecstatic to have Robert Downey Jr. play the movie-version of me.

  16. An entertaining article. I also would have watched this series (probably on DVD).

    • Thanks, Jason!

  17. i would have loved to see this if even just a few episodes

  18. I defiantly would have watched this show… wish it hadn’t been scraped. I have my fingers crossed that somehow this show will see the light of day. If it does I’ll support it!

  19. Bullet Dodged!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  20. Well, there’s Smallvilles replacement right here!

    • DSM,

      I don’t see a smiley but I’m sure you must be joking. 😛


      • Yes I was joking. Just waiting to see if any fish snagged the bait, so to speak :)

  21. Seriously,is it really that bad? The art is GREAT!!! I would have watched it just for that. Written properly it may have been entertaining. As long as it didn’t take itself too seriously. Like Ben said,it is what it is.

  22. I think, if it did not take itself too seriously (as the art and description both suggest), it would have been fantastic fun…Sigh.

  23. this show would have been bad ass. if it took on the hilarity of clone high with that type of animation, it would have been sweet the art alone is perfect.

  24. Thank You, whoever saved us from having to experience this abysmal possibility. Bruce Wayne? In high school? While not that outlandish a concept, having the staple rouge’s gallery villains there with him is even worse than X-men Evolution. A lot of the X-men have been teen-aged in various incarnations before, but Batman was, in most stories, responsible for the creation of several of his own villains, and was at least in his late 20’s. Old enough to comprehend the gravity of his actions and choices. It’s almost an insulting take on Bob Kane’s creation. It would be like a Superman series where he (Superman) encounters his villains before he even masters flying or dawns the red, blue, and yellow suit (hear that Smallville?). Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy aesthetic choices in storyline being used to “spice things up”, or “put a new spin on it”, but in the end, “Gotham High” was a well executed idea when they did it 8 or 9 years ago in the form of Batman Beyond.

    • I think the pictures plainly display an animated series that would have been completely OUTSIDE the realm of any previous Batman continuity. This seems, to me, to be a half-comedy, not a prequel.

      • to me it looks more like some dumb fan art, that someone would have posted on DeviantArt. i’d probably watch the show for the first couple episodes though.

  25. pass

  26. This looks as bad as the Green Lantern stuff we’ve been seeing. PASS.

  27. Hey geeks,
    Stop taking the batman lore so seriously?

    This wouldve been FRIGGIN AWESOME! It’s so annoying how seriously people take ENTERTAINMENT nowadays? lol. I mean it’s actually pretty clever the way EVERY character fits so comfortably into a “high school stereotype” like many have said, the artwork alone wouldve been reason enough to tune in. I hope this still happens one day.

  28. God I’m do glad that was cancelled. I hate that art style. Same art style that’s plagued most cartoons since the jackie chan cartoon. How dare they even try to do that to Batman.

  29. well the last two Batman animated shows were “The Batman” (BAD) and “Batman: Brave and Bold” (EVEN WORSE)

    this show may have just been fun and clever.

    And this should also include

    Principle Gordon
    mentions of rivals schools: “Metropolis High”, “Coast City High”, and “Keystone City High”

    • The Batman wasnt that bad

      • The Clayface eps from The Batman were really good, but it’s hard to live up to the legacy of Batman: Animated Series. This would’ve been really weird, but if it was funny and tongue-in-cheek, it could’ve been really fun. I’m actually diggin’ Young Justice right now though.

      • yes it was

        • I know that the Brave and the bold is a campy version of the Batman cartoons, but it also gave solid episodes like chill of the night, siege of starro, and the eps with bat- mite. they also show the “Superhero” side of batman, being almost invincible and putting obscure characters to good use.

          • Yeah, Batman: Brave and the Bold knows exactly what it’s doing. It’s a campy throwback to the Silver Age version of Batman and it’s intended to be funnier and more “pure escapist entertainment” than any of the other animated Batman(s). It doesn’t intend to be anything more or less.

            • I like th brave and the bold. I get the campyness and that makes it awesome. The episodes that I have seen have been pretty effin good. Young Justice has no pull for me

            • And that works just fine. I love it as a show, and it has my favorite version of Aquaman. Ever.

              • @ Zoocko

                you’re talkin about orange shirt/green pants Aquaman? If so i like that version aswell and liked him on Superman:TAS. I wished JLU could of continued for another season or two so they could got to the point where Aquaman gets his left hand made out of enchanted-water.