10 Reasons Batman Animated Is The Definitive Dark Knight

Warner Bros. Animation

Batman, his allies, the world of Gotham and the popularity they’ve endured have led to somewhat of a cultural phenomenon in recent years. Across his expansive 75 year history the character has seen multiple iterations spanning across the entire cultural spectrum – everything from comics, to TV to film have all gone onto form every aspect of the character down to his very last detail, but none have been more formative than his long-running stint on animation – particularly in the much loved Batman: The Animated Series.

The tales told by the likes of Paul Dini, Bruce Timm and the late Boyd Kirkland combined the greatest elements of the character to create a series that pushed boundaries and defied usual story telling conventions that once bound Saturday morning programming. Doing all this and more would’ve easily cemented the show as being among the greatest of cartoons, but it
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Interview: Will Meugniot on Exo Squad, X-Men

  • Comicmix
Ask me to name my favorite cartoon shows growing up. Suffice to say, nearly every one I have feelings for was in some way, shape, or form was touched by the amazing Will Meugniot. That’s pronounced Min-ee-Oh, just in case you missed the boat yesterday. What’s that? You missed our last installment? Shame on you! For the rest who didn’t though, we pick up where I left off, as I casually shifted our conversation towards Will’s amazing career in animation! Roll the tape…

Comicmix:: I’d be remiss if I didn’t start pelting you with questions on all the series you worked on that literally defined my childhood into early teens… Let’s start with my personal favorite…Exo Squad! Tell the fine ComicMixers out there what you did on the show.

Will Meugniot: Well, I’d been working on the first season of X-Men,
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Review: 'Wolverine and the X-Men The Complete Series'

  • Comicmix
Wolverine and the X-Men was created to capitalize on the anticipated success of the Hugh Jackman Wolverine movie. The series aired on Nicktoons and freely adapted stories taken from the decades of X-Men stories. Despite being the title character, Wolverine was often taking a step back to let the army of mutants take on the stories.

Lionsgate has been releasing the episodes in low priced sets, but now, in time for the holidays, the entire series has been put in one set, now on sale. ComicMix has previous reviewed the final three releases in the series and overall, I have not been overly impressed. Visually, the animation designs are satisfactory but Marvel has never gotten a good handle on their voice casting and the show suffers for it.

Structurally, I previously noted “this has fewer sub-plots that require episode to episode viewing. On the other hand, there are plenty of
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[DVD Review] Marvel Animation: 6 Film Set

Marvel and DC are both in the middle of a new movie strategy where they release animated films of some of their most popular characters direct to DVD. The two rivals have arguably been doing it for ages if you count the spin-off “movies” from their animated television series, but the last 4 years have seen a leap in activity. Have any of them topped Batman: Mask of the Phantasm? No, not really. However, each of the studios seems to be making huge strides with each successive movie. Marvel, having reached its 6 film marker (DC isn’t far behind at this point), have released them all in a box set. While it’s nice to have an anthology to put on the shelf instead of individual DVD cases, it ends up serving as a reminder of how far the films have come since the original Ultimate Avengers: The Movie back in
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Wolverine DVD Round Up, April 27, 2009: ‘Wolverine and The X-Men,’ ‘Marvel X-Men’

Chicago – Welcome to a special edition of the DVD Round-Up,’s infamous column covering smaller titles that may have gone unnoticed by the Best Buy circular. With all the buzz surrounding Fox’s upcoming “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” with Hugh Jackman, there are several companion DVD releases, including the theatrical trilogy on Blu-Ray (which will be covered here later this week), and three animated releases for serious Marvel, Wolverine, and X-Men fans.

“Wolverine and The X-Men: Heroes Return Trilogy” was released on Tuesday, April 21st, 2009.

Both volumes of the “Marvel X-Men” titles are being released this Tuesday, April 28th, 2009.

“Marvel X-Men: Volume 1”

Photo credit: Disney The syndicated cartoon version of “The X-Men” brought Wolverine, Storm, Cyclops, Beast, and the rest of comic-dom’s favorite mutants home long before Halle Berry, Hugh Jackman, or Bryan Singer had ever thought about the Marvel universe. The show ran from 1992-1996 and notched over 70 episodes.
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[DVD Review] Wolverine and the X-Men: Heroes Return Trilogy

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Typically, I condemn studios for releasing "episodic samplers" of a television series in lieu of an entire season box set. It's a lousy practice designed with nothing more than money grubbing in mind. The Wolverine and the X-Men: Heroes Return Trilogy, if tradition holds true, should receive similar reproach. But it doesn't; at least not entirely. It turns out people like me are the exact intended audience of this set. Yes, I still somewhat resent Lionsgate for putting out a one disc release that represents a mere fraction of the entire season - but it brought a superb series to my attention and really, isn't that the point?

Wolverine and the X-Men possesses a mythology depth that rivals and ultimately bests the 90s X-Men animated series and an updated animation style that borrows yet improves upon the X-Men: Evolution series of a few years back.
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'Batman: Phantasm'

One of the best series in all of TV these days is ''Batman: The Animated Series, '' the Emmy-winning afternoon program featuring the Dark Knight Lite in adventures filled with gorgeous, Deco-styled visuals. The show's popularity has even justified a big-screen incarnation, ''Batman: Mask of the Phantasm.''

Nonetheless, the movie has a couple of question marks hanging over it -- will parents want to take their kids to see something they can watch for free every weekday afternoon? And, how will they feel when they discover their youngsters are sitting through something more violent and macabre than the average installment of the tube version? Boxoffice prospects appear mild, though it'll likely clean up on video.

In ''Mask of the Phantasm, '' a new vigilante (who is actually not named in the movie, except in the title) has come to Gotham City. This one makes our hero seem timid in comparison: it wields an ax for a hand, and grimly murders mobsters. Batman/Bruce Wayne (voice of Kevin Conroy) soon finds himself knee-deep in guano -- an opportunistic, corrupt city councilman (Hart Bochner) is blaming him for the murders, and is also romancing Wayne's old flame, Andrea (Dana Delany).

Of course, it's not too long before the Joker (Mark Hamill) figures into the proceedings.

The animation is slightly better than the series' already high quality, though nowhere near the state-of-the-art of recent Disney efforts. Still, the visuals retain the extraordinarily evocative and imaginative polish of the series -- a World's Fair-style exhibit of the future is creatively rendered, particularly in its condemned, run-down stage (Batman and the Joker have a particularly neat Godzilla-like battle within a miniature cityscape).

Scripting is competent and clever, as good as if not better than your average live-action action flick. Shirley Walker (who also scores the TV series) contributes effectively operatic music.

Still, the mayhem level here may give parents pause when it comes to bringing younger children to the film. As opposed to, say, ''Tim Burton's the Nightmare Before Christmas, '' in which the gruesomeness is couched in a sweet and gentle atmosphere, the Gothic ''Mask of the Phantasm'' is practically fatalistic.

Its baroque tale of a couple whose love is doomed because they're too much alike is sophisticated (give the filmmakers points for not talking down to their audience), but the fact that the tale is steeped in high tragedy may not appeal to younger fans.

And the violence -- deaths, explosions and automotive accidents, all graphically rendered -- is almost on a level of Tim Burton's ''Batman'' movies (not for nothing is this rated PG). A wake-up call to kids that life can try one's soul isn't necessarily a bad idea, but in this particular forum, it seems a tad inappropriate.


Warner Bros.

Produced by Benjamin Melniker, Michael Uslin

Directors Eric Radomski, Bruce W. Timm

Executive producer Tom Ruegger

Producers Alan Burnett, Eric Radomski, Bruce W. Timm

Sequence directors Kevin Altieri, Boyd Kirkland, Frank Paur, Dan Riba

Music Shirley Walker

Screenplay Alan Burnett, Paul Dini, Martin Pasko, Michael Reeves

Story Alan Burnett



Batman Kevin Conroy

Andrea Dana Delany

Arthur Hart Bochner

Phantasm/Carl Stacy Keach, Jr.

Salvatore Abe Vigoda

Alfred Efrem Zimbalist, Jr.

Joker Mark Hamill

Running time -- 75 minutes

MPAA Rating: PG

(c) The Hollywood Reporter

See also

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