The 75th Anniversary of Batman is still sprinting off the starting line, with another animated tribute short. After Bruce Timm debuted Batman: Strange Days, Warner Bros. released an animated short of Batman Beyond at WonderCon on Saturday April 19, 2014. Under the direction of artist Darwyn Cooke, we get another trip down animated memory lane. Cartoon Network will also be airing the short after the episode of Teen Titans GO! today, April 23, 2014.
In a minute and eighteen seconds, we get thrown right into the action as Terry McGinnis (voiced by Will Friedle) answers a distress in the Batcave. When he arrives to see Bruce on the ground and the power failing he asks who did this, only to be greeted with the heavy tones of Kevin Conroy's voice saying, "It was me."
The emergency red lights come on and there is a tremendous fight, 'Terry McGinnis' Batman vs. 'New Adventures of Batman and Robin' Batman.
I think the thing I like most about this fight is how much it communicates and honors how these Bat(men?) fight. Even as a robot, the retro-Batman evades and exploits his toolbelt to challenge the high-tech Batsuit. A tug from the grappling hook and a strong pounce has Terry on his back on top of the Batmobile. In this fight we also see how Terry has adapted the Bat-Tech to his own style. He uses the foot boasters to rocket off of a rock wall and slaps the enemy with an electronic pulse bomb. With a Bruce Wayne ordered blast of the Batmobile's jets, the Bruce Timm Batman is incinerated.
Picking up an old-school utility belt, Bruce lets the viewer know that the battle isn't over, as the The Animated Series Batman brought along seven friends. We are then treated to the most iconic (yet also curious) pan shot of interations of Batman. Did you freeze frame to catch and identify them all? We first get the three most recent Bat's in cartoon: Beware the Batman, The Batman, and Brave and the Bold. In the back row we get an amazing rendering of Frank Miller's hulking The Dark Knight Returns Batman.
In the next frame are Michael Keaton's Batman and Adam West's Batman '66. (To be honest, I found these over drawn. Especially Adam West. It felt a little Ren & Stimpy to me.)
These two inclusions are particularly curious to me, as they highlight that a particular version of Batman is missing. A version of Batman that grossed Warner Bros nearly three billion dollars in seven years. With live action Keaton and West, the Christian Bale/Christopher Nolan Batman feels conscipuciously not in attendence. It is interesting food for thought to say the least. In the last cameo we get a brilliantly illustrated look at Bob Kane's original.
The short ends with Bruce Wayne and Terry commenting that seven on two is bad odds for the Bat-Bots and the hope that we will get this throw down later in the year.
Overall I would say this is an increbile tribute to Batman and it demonstrates some of my favorite elements about animated Batman. I would only be slightly disappointed if it is left in perpectual cliffhanger.
Batman Beyond Short:
Reviewed by Bob Holt