When MovieMovieBlogBlog called for the blogathon with a picture of Catwoman, I knew it was a perfect chance to talk about Batman: The Animated Series. There were a number of animated comic book adaptation that came in the early 90s, like X-Men and Spider-Man, but Batman: TAS was easily the cream of the crop, with top-notch animation and a dark and gritty style.
The cartoon gave us the definitive versions of many of Batman's characters, casting incredible voice actors that are still some of the most beloved actors to fill the roles. Ask anyway who the best portrayals of Batman and the Joker and you'll hear a lot of them say Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill. The rest of the cast was just as memorable, with Ron Perlman (Hellboy) playing Clayface, Richard Moll (Night Court) as Two-Face, John Glover (Smallville) as the Riddler.
Adrienne Barbeau gave Catwoman a sultry edge that wasn't normally put into a kids cartoon, sneaking innuendo into almost every scene she was in. I was kinda surprised by how much they were able to get in there, but it didn't feel out of place within the show's more mature storylines. This version of Catwoman took a lot from Tim Burton's Batman Returns, which came out in the same year this show debuted. Selina Kyle, Catwoman's alter ego, was a blonde, and her costume kept her hair tucked into the suit instead of flowing out of it, like many of her comic costumes did at the time.
I always felt like she was short-changed a bit in the series - she didn't make that many appearances, even though the movie had just come out and featured her heavily. You'd think that would give her a bigger role in the cartoon as well, but Hamill's Joker took center stage most of the time and there were so many other villains in the mix that she just didn't show up much. It's a shame too, it would have been interesting to see her more often, toeing the line of villainy while sometimes helping Batman catch other criminals, all the while riling up Robin or Batgirl. It's a role that would have had a lot of potential, and maybe show Batman's lighter side.
And that could have been more opportunities to hear Adrienne's voice in the cartoon as well, something I know I wouldn't have minded.
Out of all of the cartoons we got that were adaptations of comics, Batman: The Animated Series is easily the best. Compared with the two other big ones at the time, X-Men and Spider-Man, Batman's show was clearly the highest quality. The animation was more fluid, it had a gritty style, and it didn't have nearly as many errors. The creators obviously cared for this show a lot, and it shows by how much of a lasting impact it's had on the bigger Batman story. This is the show that gave us Harley Quinn, one of the most popular Batman - and comics in general - characters, not to mention the definitive versions of Two-Face and Clayface. This show spawned an entire DC animated universe, followed by Superman, Justice League, and Batman Beyond. This show deserves so much credit for shaping DC comics, television, and their cinematic universe - Bruce Timm and Paul Dini showed us what it would be like seeing the whole of DC on screen together, and arguably did it better than the movies are trying to do now. But that's a topic for another post.