‘Beware the Batman’ Creator Says Action Cartoons Are Nearing Extinction

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Beware the BatmanTV Beware the Batman Creator Says Action Cartoons Are Nearing Extinction

Some say that Beware the Batman has big shoes to fill, serving as the latest entry in the illustrious line of Batman animated series’ while also following cancelled DC Nation entries Young Justice and Green Lantern: The Animated Series. But despite that, producers Glen Murakami and Mitch Watson don’t seem too focused on those perceived challenges, instead preferring to try and put their own spin on the Caped Crusader while trying to pull action cartoons back from the brink of extinction.

Last week, we had a chance to talk to Murakami and Watson, and they shed some light on their choice to use some of the more obscure members of Batman’s Rogue’s Gallery, why they aren’t afraid to challenge their young audience, the absence of Paul Dini and Bruce Timm from Beware the Batman, using CGI, the state of action toons, and why they just want people to give their show a chance.

Here’s Mitch Watson talking about how he and Murakami sought to make Batman their own, and how they won’t talk down to their younger audience:

I think Glenn and I had a familiarity with all the different iterations of Batman, and then you kind of push them aside and go “Ok, what are the key components of this character, the key components that people are familiar with? We’ll keep those and then, we’ll make it our own.” One of the ways that it was probably a little easier on this particular project was the fact that we were using villains that really hadn’t been utilized before and oddly enough we didn’t get the full effect of that until we saw the episodes. It really gives the episodes a whole different feel, because you’ve never really seen Batman interacting with these guys in an animated form.

In terms of how do you not talk down to the kids, at least when I approach breaking a story, I break them as if I’m the audience, quite honestly. I have a real thing about not wanting to talk down to a kid audience, I don’t think you have to. I think kids are actually a lot smarter than people give them credit for and if you give them something that they can sink their teeth into, they’ll go for it.

beware the batman still 3 Beware the Batman Creator Says Action Cartoons Are Nearing Extinction

Well aware of the passionate response to the cancellation of Young Justice and Green Lantern, Murakami and Watson want those displaced fans and other action cartoon fans to give their show a chance so that the genre doesn’t continue to suffer losses:

Watson: To be perfectly frank with you, the action genre of television cartoons right now is sort of on the verge of extinction, so I’m really hoping that if people like Young Justice and people liked Green Lantern, that they’re gonna give this show a chance, because quite honestly, if they don’t go for this kind of show… and you know what? If they don’t like it, they don’t like it, but give the show a chance, because we really set out to make something that was goona appeal to both fans and new people, and to pull back in the Green Lantern and the Young Justice people.

I think we’ve done our due diligence in terms of honoring the characters and so, people gotta know that unless they give these shows a chance, you’re not going to see action shows anymore.

Murakami: Every show I’ve ever worked on, whenever we start the show, it’s always the same thing. Where everyone complains and says that they’re going to hate the show and then,  after the shows been on or when the show ends they always ask the same question “Well why did they cancel it? Why did they get rid of it? We thought it was so great.

So that’s the only thing that I can kind of remind everybody is like, well, when Teen Titans started everyone said they hated it. When we did Batman Beyond everyone said that they hated it, you know? When we did the revamp on Batman, everyone said that they hated it. So, every single time it sounds like, whenever we start something, everyone complains about it and tells us that it’s going to be terrible and it’s not going to be very good.

Will Beware the Batman be a harder sell to fans because Bruce Timm and Paul Dini aren’t involved? Watson and Murakami don’t seem to think so:

Watson: Only the hardcore fans are gonna know Bruce Timm and Paul Dini. To a kid whose coming brand new to it, no. Those are the names that were tied to a show that was done 20 years ago, and hey, nobody is trying to take the place of that show. It was a great show and it continues to be a great show. This is a different show.

Murakami: I worked on those shows. We do have people working on the show who have worked on the shows, so we do have experience working on those types of shows.

beware the batman still 4 Beware the Batman Creator Says Action Cartoons Are Nearing Extinction

One of the most notable differences between past Batman shows and Beware the Batman is the use of CGI. But while some have scoffed at Batman’s new look, Murakami seems excited:

I think it’s a challenge. I think it’s a challenge to try to do some of this stuff that you haven’t seen before in CG. I think it’s just a new medium and I think even fans are used to from the movies and everything like that, they kinda expect a bigger spectacle. I mean, I wanted to try and kinda take on that challenge of doing a show in CG.


Beware the Batman premieres July 13th, 2013 @10am on the Cartoon Network

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  1. I so very much cannot wait for this premiere. :)

  2. I’ll definitely watch this show to see what potential it possibly can bring to the table, but hell even if it turns out out to be a pretty cool show cartoon network will just cancel it after two seasons just like they did with young justice and green lantern, so quite frankly it really doesn’t matter. There’s already a rumor about a potential New justice league cartoon so you know something will be canceled to made room for that.

    • It the reasons you mentioned that i totally stopped watching cartoon network.

  3. None of them came close to being as great as Batman:TAS was. I won’t be watching this, some of the villains are whack. The Batman was decent enough. I wished Bruce Timm & Paul Dini made more seasons to both Batman:TAS & Superman:TAS aswell JLU.

    • @Wally

      Yep, there’s a reason action cartoons might go extinct, because they don’t make them awesome like Batman: TAS was. They have been so insanely crappy lately, I wouldn’t mind seeing them disappear myself…

      Bring back the days of Batman: TAS and even Batman Beyond. This new stuff sucks…

      • @ Ken J

        Whats up? I agree about great animation is fading away slowly. Like I said, Id like for them to revisit Batman:TAS,JLU, even Superman:TAS showing Superman gaining back the people’s trust between that show & Justice League.

    • I agree with everyone on here. Why is it that good series like YJ, GL, and even Earth’s Mightiest Heroes get canned, and people like these two guys expect us to give their show a chance? We tried giving these other shows a chance and look at what happened. No wonder the genre is in trouble. Now you’re asking us to invest our time (which is being increasingly taken up by television over-saturation) in a show that will probably get whacked, especially if it’s good? Get real.
      I can’t imagine the show’s creators sitting in a room thinking that canceling these kinds of great shows made sense. It’s gotta be corporate types who look at finances and somehow think that because they’re not making the money they planned, it’s a good reason to cancel them.
      If they keep up this pace, Watson and Murakami will be right, but the networks won’t be the ones responsible for killing it. We will, because we just won’t watch them.

      • Why are you getting mad at Watson and Murakami? They’re not at fault for this.

        In a perfect world, YJ, GL, Batman, and TTGo! would be airing a two-hour DC Nation block. Alas…

  4. What does “a chance” mean? Three episodes? One season? More? BTAS is probably the greatest animated show of all time. It’s easy to figure out why the success wasn’t replicated. If they’re going with the mature angle it could work, but I’m still skeptical about the CG.

    • exactly.. a mature angle work definetly work. Even for the kids.

    • I think three to five episodes is enough to claim you’ve given something a chance.

  5. Yeah Cartoon Network is like SyFy with canceling shows early. I will still check this out.

    • yea the only good thing i find worthy on SY-FY is Defiance everything else is total crap .

  6. Will def be checking this out, I read two reviews online and it seems they’re not taking the kids for idiots. That’s all I really needed to hear. But like Rome said, there’s a good chance this will be cancelled within a couple of season, no matter how good it is.

  7. I couldn’t agree more. Action cartoons are pretty much extinct. I absolutely love Batman TAS and Batman Beyond, Justice League all of it. I do not like GL TAS mainly due to the cgi animation. I personally can’t stand it. I really wished the GL series would have been like the two animated films with the same animation and tone. Its all about marketing and thats why good quality shows like Young Justice get canned simply due to not selling enough toys. And we get Teen Titans GO instead. Facepalm.

  8. The only reason “action cartoons” are on the verge of extinction is because the idiots in charge of programming do things like cancel young justice and replace it with teen titans go!…i personally LOVE the new tmnt cartoon, which is done in this same cg animation style…though i think it fits the turtles better since they’re not human, and helps accentuate their differences…though with batman, that’s so blatantly meant to be dark and gothic, it’ll be interesting to see how they use this cg animation to get that tone across…i’ll definitely give it a shot though…

  9. You dont see Legend of korra selling toys left and right. Yet there renewed for a couple of seasons. Im pretty sure that counts as a “action cartoon.” In fact legend of korra was made because nickelodeon kept on begging The Avatar The last air bender creators to keep it going.

    • The difference being Nick can afford to keep a show going. They’re a lot bigger than Cartoon Network, and so have money to spare in that regard.

      Of course, then you realize that for every Avatar there are about three different Sam and Kats’.

    • those both suck.

  10. Knowing Glenn Murakami is involved should appease most of the “Timm Dini Camp” assuming they are really big enough fans to know of Murakami’s involvement dating as far back as Batman: TAS.

    If Murakami is attached, people should check out the first episode and at least give it a chance.

  11. I say bring back young justice and Avengers: EMH, cancel Avengers Assemble and Ultimate Spider-Man and don’t even bother with Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H.

    I’m going to check this one out though simply because it’s batman.

    • “Simply because it’s batman”

      Couldn’t agree more. The cgi looks a little goofy from what I’ve seen so far but you never know, if they have a good enough story line I might be able to look past it. I’ve had a Batman itch since Nolans trilogy ended.

  12. They need to make a cartoon about the flash, why always batman of superman ?

  13. Honestly, I’m not surprised when I see such low quality graphics and animations. The “Beware the Batman” intro seems to be promising, but you should watch the trailer (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4IVJH3stuu0). Horrible, absolutely horrible. It looks like a poor 3D action adventure game from the 90s.

    We need an animated TV series with graphics & animations like THIS: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Fp57RlLWqY

  14. “To be perfectly frank with you, the action genre of television cartoons right now is sort of on the verge of extinction”

    I call complete and utter BS. There is a whole anime genre that is going strong and they are pretty much “action cartoons”. As an example how long was a show like “Naruto” on the air? That thing went on doe 220 episodes! No, the main problem is the network’s perception that people aren’t watching. We can blame the networks for relying on Neilson ratings and their antiquated data collecting abilities.

    There is also the issue with catering TOO much to, “kids”. They fail to remember that many of us who are watching are grown up and still enjoy animated shows (not “cartoons”), they aren’t just for kids! I would point to A:EMH and YJ as two examples of shows that had serious tone and had involved plots. Do you really think a 7 year old is going to be able to follow everything that’s going on? If they realized part of their demographic was adults they might be able to sell more high profile commercials.

    And last is the problem of keeping things fresh, especially with shows like Batman that have seen numerous iterations. You can only see the Penguins origin on so many times before it doesn’t matter if it’s a new show…it’s STILL the same general origin. Or worse is taking and completely changing origins like they did with the most recent animated Spider-Man. You need new or at least keep telling new stories with familiar characters which seems to be lacking in general.

  15. Well, first of all, I hated Batman Beyond, The Batman and other Batman cartoons other than B:TAS from the beginning and still hated them by the time they ended.

    I also never heard of Young Justice or the Green Lantern cartoon until I was bored yesterday morning, looked at the kids channels and saw them, getting curious but also thinking they were terrible.

    The episodes I saw were horrific and the CGI on GL was worse than the CGI from a show I used to love 20 years ago called Re:Boot that looked way more realistic. Which is the issue I have with this new Batman, the CGI looks bad.

    I’m guessing their claim that action cartoons are dying off only exists because they want people to agree and then watch their show rather than go elsewhere to other action cartoons that have been running for a while with a major audience.

    • That’s an incredibly shallow way of thinking. Despite the “looks” of the show, the writing and stories on both of those shows is top-notch. They do not pander to children and appeal to all ages instead.

      The acting genre is dying because network are more interested in comedies and toyetic shows that in action ones.

      • Batman Beyond was a good show IMO, but the look of the show, as well as the look of B:TAS is the way these shows should be looking, or taking from.. yeah taking from…

  16. I’m looking forward to watching this. I enjoyed Young Justice and the Green Lantern show was ok. I just hope this gets a fair shot and not a quick hook by the Cartoon Network.

  17. What concerns me is the Saturday morning time slot. Why not move it to adult swim, Saturday nights preferably? Give King of the Hill, or Family guy a rest and see how this new Batman plays with an older audience.

    • yes indeed your absolutely right.

  18. For lovers of the Bruce Timm/Paul Dini era, it is sad that Watson and Murakami are right about the potential death of traditional animated DC series and features. The biggest indicator is the drastic plunge in sales of the Universe Animated Original Movies. In ’07, ‘Superman: Doomsday’ grossed $9.4 million. It was followed by ‘Batman: Gotham Knights’ hitting $8 million the next year. In ’09 when ‘Wonder Woman’ grossed $7 million, it was considered a failure and they scrapped a proposed sequel. Their last three titles grossed the following: ’12′s ‘The Dark Knight Returns: Part 1′ – $2.6 million; ’13′s ‘The Dark Knight Returns: Part 2′ – $1.4 million; ’13′s ‘Superman Unbound’ – $1 million. ‘Superman Unbound’ was released in the midst of the advertising saturation for MAN OF STEEL, and it was their biggest failure to date. ‘BATMAN: THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS: PARTS 1 & 2′ received phenomenal reviews, many from major news outlets and publications – a first for DCUOM productions. Many praised it as superior to last year’s ‘The Dark Knight Rises.’ It had no impact on sales. Warner-Bros. shut down their entire ‘Direct-To-Video Original Production Division’ over a year ago, and scaled back their direct-to-video animated titles to just DC and a few other Hannah-Barbarah characters. If the newly installed heads of the division can’t turn sales around in the next year, odds are high the DC Universe Original Movie division may end up being shut down.

    Perhaps DC needs to look at how Marvel Animation has turned itself around. Licensing their characters to Japanese anime company Mad House for series and original films has proved a success. Marvel’s line of amped-up motion comics are also a huge hit online and home video. Their new Spider-Man series is traditional animation, and a hit. And, their new traditional animation Avengers series has kids and fans pumped. DC used to outclass Marvel’s animation efforts. Looks like Marvel now rules both live action films and traditional animation.

    • You’re serious?!?

      • What will be interesting to see is how well the October release of ‘BATMAN: THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS – THE DELUXE EDITION’ does. It will allow fans to watch the film in one seamless viewing, and will include Frank Miller’s participation in an extensive documentary on the book. The press release has generated tons of write-ups and ‘notes’ on a lot of Home Video and fan sites – Google it and you get pages. Again though, it’ll be the final sales that count. Plus, many fans will feel this is the just ‘double-dipping’ – as many they cheated when they cut the film in half to create 2 releases in the first place.

    • I also noticed the drop in sales. Really sucks, but I don’t think there has been very many great animated DC movies since Under the Red Hood other than Dark Knight Returns. I’m not sure if Marvel is doing any better though, watched one of the animated Iron Man films and was completely turned off by it. I enjoyed the two Avengers films though.

      I think they should really start putting much more material in the films though, like story and character development. I’m not sure how much material they grabbed from the comic they based it on but by the end of the film, I always feel underwhelmed and feel like nothing really happened.

    • But the current Marvel Animation series are completely terrible and have lousy ratings by themselves.

      DC and Warner Bros should take note from their marketing, but NOT from their quality.

  19. Personally I am very much looking forward to this. It’s new and fresh and I don’t understand why people reject it before they even see one single episode. Don’t judge until you see it. Rock on, Glen and Mitch.

  20. I’m in the crowd that no longer gets excited about the direct to DVD animated fare from Marvel or DC. I don’t know that they ever took chances, but before it was a novelty, especially the Ultimate Avengers – before the Avengers film was a reality, it was exciting to see them in animated form. It was the hope that it would be one someday be reality that made them cool. Now, they’re just doing animated forms of comics I’ve already read – and the comics are better. They don’t really serve a purpose. Unless they do something different, I don’t see myself caring about what they have to offer. Green Lantern – Emerald Knights was the best one I’ve seen and I watch it frequently, because it did something different. First Flight was also good. Superman/Batman: Apocalypse and Superman vs. The Elite were good too. Hell, maybe it’s just the Marvel ones that suck (except Planet Hulk). If DC makes an Aquaman animated films I”m buying that right up. Marvel can redeem themselves with any of the following original animated fare: The Inhumans, Guardians of the Galaxy, Nova, Alpha Flight, Thunderbolts or a GOOD Doctor Strange story.

    • As much as I think their idea of having animated movies based comics is good, I wish they’d also create some original stories as well. There’s a lot of possibilities especially since it’s in animated form.

  21. Sorry, but the trailer doesn’t have me convinced. Maybe the story and writing will pull it up, but all that trailer showed me was a montage of generic (at best) action sequences rendered in sub-par CGI, and an odd Batman design.

    And no, I’m not saying this with any nostalgia goggles on. I didn’t watch much of the old cartoons like Batman TAS. I may have caught them once in a while, and what little I remember is pretty decent, but it wasn’t a consistent thing for me.

    If this is the best impression they can give, no wonder the genre is ‘dying’ – but I’d dispute that, because there are plenty of cartoons and animated series that do well and are thriving – someone mentioned anime earlier, and that’s a great example. There are plenty of studios in Japan churning out beautifully animated shows that also have original concepts – here they have Batman, a bankable franchise, and they can’t make it look any better? That’s just disappointing.

    And it’s not like American TV doesn’t have successful cartoons – see: Avatar, The Legend of Korra, etc. So pinning the blame on fans for hating some of the cartoons isn’t really fair, because it’s not like fans *want* to hate them – they want to like them. And if expectations aren’t being met, there’s probably a reason why – TV as a whole has a LOT of good programming now, so it only stands to reason that if you want to compete, you’re not gonna get by on shoddy CGI, hoping that the kid demographic you’re aiming for won’t notice (or that that demographic will be enough to keep you afloat).

  22. It looks like it has potential. Especially from the writers of Batman Beyond? I can appreciate that they’re going with the dark knight “ballistic” type suit instead of the tights and briefs. Hopefully it will please hold to the darkness of the batman animated series. And not be corny like some of the recent batman cartoons in the past decade

  23. This looks like utter rot for several reasons. The animation is terrible, even compared with older CGI like Reboot. Using the lesser known villains such as Pig Man and the sillier portions of Batman’s rogue gallery (Calendar Man, Five Eyes, etc) just alienates people away, and renders the impact far less. Action cartoons aren’t dying, they’re just becoming specialized and require more backing. Witness the success of Avengers and Iron Man, Young Justice, the original Teen Titans (not Teen Titans Go, which is horribly idiotic and rates about the same level as Foster and his Imaginary Friends or Total Teen Drama island), etc. Dini and Timm are legends, but shuffling them off for stuff like this is extremely sad.

    Young Justice and Green Lantern had amazing villains, character development, and not a huge tie to the Bat Family. If DC and Warner Brothers want to get the other parts of the DC universe to sell, constant Batman remakes are not the way to go. Plus if action cartoons are dead, someone might want to tell Disney that.

  24. looks stupid. I hate the animation. I hate it

  25. Then maybe WB shouldn’t have cancelled Young Justice and Green Lantern. AS for action genre… it’s alive and well at Nick with TMNT and Avatar Kora.

  26. “I think it’s cheaper. I think it’s cheaper to do some of this stuff that you haven’t seen before in CG. I think it’s just a cheaper medium and I think even fans are used to from the movies and everything like that, they kinda expect everything to look like it’s made out of shiny plastic. I mean, I wanted to try and kinda take on that challenge of doing a show with a fraction of the cost and effort.”

    • +1

      If it were anymore high quality, it’d be much more expensive and would take a much longer time completing each episode. I remember reading an article (I’m not totally sure if this is true) but Pixar completes about 30 seconds of animation for their films each week. However I find it odd since I remember watching the Dragons series (How to Train Your Dragons spin off) the animation was awesome, especially for a tv show. It may come down to which studio is doing it.

  27. I wouldn’t say that action cartoons are on the verge of extinction, but more of them do need to be back on TV. It’s a little too much comedy kid oriented cartoons for my taste, of course that should be there for the kids but you need a health balance of different varieties of shows, it just can’t be one style.

  28. These new clay looking cartoons are so dumb greenlantern was awesome for 3 episodes and young justice… U miss 1 episode u loose the whole story bring back batmanTAS the Hub shows it on cox cable

  29. The animation is so annoying they need batman to look classic and normal heck looks like bane smashed batmans head into a deflated basket ball