Earlier this week Netflix announced that Batman: The Animated Series — aka the single greatest piece of Batman media ever created — is set to begin streaming on the platform next month (on Tuesday, November 21 to be exact). And upon hearing the news I practically squealed with excitement.
In my opinion, Batman: The Animated Series is not just the greatest superhero show of all time, but one of the best television series, period. Its arrival on Netflix has me delighted for a multitude of reasons, and may just ensure that I keep my account active for the foreseeable future.
For starters, its arrival on Netflix will make watching my favorite episodes much more convenient. At present, I watch the show via a Blu-ray boxset which means constant disc swapping when I want to jump between seasons. I'm also pleased its availability on Netflix should introduce the show to a whole new audience, particularly younger viewers who may not have seen it before.
Unfortunately for Netflix subscribers in the U.S., it appears Batman: The Animated Series is only landing on Netflix in the U.K. for now but at least the entire series can be streamed right now on Max. And the service formerly known as HBO Max also offers its equally excellent spin-off Batman: Beyond and its companion show, Superman: The Animated Series. So I'd argue that American viewers are actually getting the better deal.
Holy date announcement, Batman!Batman: The Animated Series comes to Netflix 21 Nov. pic.twitter.com/UZEqLervOTOctober 23, 2023
Why Batman: The Animated Series is a must-watch
Debuting in 1992, on the surface Batman: The Animated Series might appear to be little more than a children's cartoon designed to sell action figures, but it’s so much richer than that. It’s a series that truly understands the character of Batman, displaying the Dark Knight as a watchful protector with an unshakable code of justice. However, it also explores the damaged psyche of Bruce Wayne in ways that are surprisingly nuanced and even a little dark on occasion.
While the show is named for Batman — and Kevin Conroy’s iconic voice brings the Caped Crusader to life in a way that still greatly influences Batman media to this day — it’s really the show’s take on the rogue gallery that shines brightest. In fact, many of the most recognizable versions of Batman’s foes come from this series, and more recent adaptions of these iconic characters typically draw at least some inspiration from their Animated Series counterparts.
For example, Batman: The Animated Series gave us Mark Hamill’s Joker, and introduced Harley Quinn to the world. It also totally transformed the way Mr. Freeze was depicted, offering him a tragic backstory in the Emmy-winning episode “Heart of Ice." Fan-favorite Batman villains such as Clayface, Poison Ivy, Two-Face and The Penguin are also brilliantly handled along with lesser antagonists like Mad Hatter, Clock King and the Ventriloquist.
The strong writing and character work are all presented via some truly stunning animation. The show’s gothic depiction of Gotham City has become iconic in its own right, and it's been imitated in everything from movies like The Batman to the Arkham video games. Aside from a few early episodes having some rather shabby fight sequences, nearly every frame is a joy to examine. There’s a reason my screensaver has been shot from the show for the last several years. Batman: The Animated Series is the perfect pairing of excellent storytelling and downright beautiful presentation.
If you’ve not watched Batman: The Animated Series before, then its arrival on Netflix is the perfect chance to remedy that grave oversight. It’s now more than three decades since it first premiered, but in that time none of its strengths have waned. The show is considered legendary for good reason, and I cannot wait to rewatch it from beginning to end for the dozenth time next month.