Released in 1999 during the golden age of comic book adaptions when Warner Bros. Animation was given full access to the complete back catalogue of their sister company DC comics. They created this series which formed the DC Animated Universe including “Batman Beyond” or “Batman of the Future” as it strangely renamed here in the UK, with the series forming a book end for the universe they’d established with the series which came before it. The show would equally create another timeline for DC Animated Universe which would continue to be revisited by several other franchises even after the series ended, teasingly hinting that perhaps the studio wasn’t quite as done with the series as it would have seemed by its abrupt cancellation.
Back at the time of its original release many fans had expected that Warner Bros. Animation would choose to follow up their popular “Superman: The Animated Series” with “Justice League of America”. But instead they threw them a kind of curveball by releasing a brand new series that didn’t even have a supporting comic series at the time, and relied on the legacy of the original series instead. Including what the studio had established with their now legendary “Batman: The Animated Series”. Ironically it would be the studio’s focus on “Justice League of America” which would lead to the untimely cancellation of the show after only three seasons and one controversial film “Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker”.
Set in 2039 where Gotham has since turned into Neo-Gotham, a futuristic metropolis of high rises, flying cars, and a rocketing crime rate in the absence of Batman. Meanwhile, Bruce Wayne is now an elderly man and has long since abandoned the mantle of the bat. He has severed his ties with his allies who have since either passed away or left Bruce to live in bitter isolation with his guard dog Ace. It is at this point at we are introduced to Terry McGinnis: a 17-year old rebellious high school student who stumbles onto Bruce’s alter-ego and initially takes on the role of the Batman to find out who killed his father. Before long, he picks up were Bruce left off while being tutored by the original Batman.
The appeal of the series really lies in the fact that with this setting they have essentially wiped the slate clean and put a level of unpredictability back into the Batman franchise. Gone is the noir styled Gotham instead now replaced with a vision of the city which draws inspiration from the likes of Akira, Metropolis and Blade Runner, while the show introduced a new rogue’s gallery of villains let alone a new sleeker looking costume which is capable of both flying and turning invisible to complement this new futuristic setting. Meanwhile the inexperienced Terry McGinnis brings a new attitude to the role of the Batman. Especially with his cocky and rebellious attitude in the role, which only helps to keep this new spin all the fresher, rather than feeling that we were just getting the same show in a different wrapper.