December 1, 2021

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How Batman: Caped Crusader Serves as a Spiritual Prequel to The Animated Series

“It’s more BTAS than BTAS,” Timm said of tackling a Batman cartoon in 2021. “It goes back to the original principles of the show that we originally came up with back in the early ’90s. There was certain limitations on what we could do in terms of adult content, in terms of violence and adult themes, and my idea is basically to say, ‘Okay, it’s 1990 again, I get to do what I want to do this time.’”

Over the years, we’ve heard many stories from Timm, as well as writers and producers Paul Dini and Alan Burnett, about the story ideas that had to be cut because they were too dark or adult for a Fox Kids cartoon. There’s “The Gun Story,” which would have told the story of the weapon that killed Bruce’s parents, from its creation all the way to the moment it found itself in the hands of Joe Chill as well as what happened after its involvement in Gotham’s most infamous crime.

Another episode would have had Batman turn into a vampire: “He’s dark and spooky-looking and he’s got that badass costume and the bat imagery. So I always wanted to go all the way with it and actually make him a vampire,” Timm told Den of Geek in 2017. “We never went as far as a design for him. But there was a character in the comics named Nocturna who is not really a vampire but she was vampiric. So I did do a design of her, but that was as far as we got. We had the idea, but Fox Kids said, ‘No way, don’t go there.’”

Caped Crusader could be the perfect platform on which to finally tell the BTAS stories we never saw — especially since the Golden Age comics that clearly inspired this show featured a vampire! — as well as go deeper into the darker elements of the character that were considered too grown-up for kids in 1992. Abrams described the first season as “an incredibly complex, psychological story about someone who in a way needs to be redeemed.”

It’ll be very interesting to see all of these different pieces come together — the shift in Batman era to a less fully formed Dark Knight, the darker storylines, and the noir sensibility (as Reeves said in the panel) could give a new generation of Bat-fans an animated series that could define this character for them in the same way it did for kids in the ’90s. The longtime fan can’t wait, either.

No release date has been set for Batman: Caped Crusader, but we’ll bring you more details as we learn them. The show will air on HBO Max and Cartoon Network.

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