I've seen two episodes so far of The Batman, The WB's latest attempt to relaunch/reinvent their cash cow in animated form. Can't say I'm that impressed: the animation is kind of interesting, the opening credits are nice, and the theme song is a nice break from the School of Danny Elfman, but everything else about the show is ... well...
The premise is simple, if not exactly original: early adventures of our hero, who is beginning his vigilante career in the new century. And he appears to be, uh, some kind of 20something multi-millionaire hipster dude, the sort that was just littering the streets of Manhattan and San Francisco during the internet boom years. Bruce Wayne is forever hosting rave-inspired fundraisers, which I guess is okay, but even his Bat persona is prone to expressions like (I'm paraphrasing here because I didn't take the time to transcribe actual episode banter) "dude" and "awesome." (Reminds me of B-Man's adventures in the Swingin' 70s, when he'd occasionally blurt out something like "We dig" when a writer decided to make him more "relevant" to America's youth.)
The problem here, if I even have to spell it out, is that Batman is a man outside time; he's completely out of step with his surroundings. His moral code comes from the late 1930s, which is probably why the art direction in both the Tim Burton movies and the Bruce Timm animated series is so deliberately difficult to place chronologically: a lot of the distant past, a little bit of the near future, not much of the immediate present.
I'm all for a Batman who is still finding his way, but this ain't workin' for me so far. The Batman feels less like a retelling of BM's early days than a relaunch of Batman Beyond with Bruce himself in the Terry McGuiness role.
Political pundits love the 10-dollar word "gravitas," but if there's ever been a character to whom it applies--other than, say, Oedipus--it's Bats. This latest incarnation belongs on The O.C., not The W.B.
PS. What the hell is Bane doing in Episode Three, let alone Season One? It made sense -- and was emotionally loaded -- for a character in the comics to come out of nowhere and nearly destroy years and years of the Batman's work (which paves the way for BM's extended family to pick up the slack), but to introduce this guy as the third villain in a young crimefighter's career is crazy talk.
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