Brooding, well-written, and strikingly stylized, Batman: The Animated Series upended the conventions of tv animation when it premiered on Fox Kids in 1992. Warner Bros. Animation’s show struck a tone that was closer to film noir than the camp of previous Batman cartoons. Its influence on animated series — and comic book adaptations — can be felt to this day, and its fans remain legion.
Which is why, decades later, the series was deemed worthy of an in-depth retrospective documentary. The Heart of Batman was first released as part of the series’ 2018 Blu-ray set, and has sporadically popped up online since then. DC Comics has just uploaded the feature-length doc to its Youtube channel. Watch it below:
The film is studio-produced and sometimes slips into hagiography, but it is exceptionally informative. It sketches the backdrop to the series, which was launched by a young team at Warner Bros.’s fast-growing tv animation division, partly in reaction to the schlocky toy-based kids’ animation that dominated the 1980s. We learn of the show’s key influences, from Tim Burton’s Batman films to the Fleischer Superman cartoons.