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"Batman: The Animated Series" Remains One Of The Definitive Versions Of The Caped Crusader

It's Batman week! Get out of the way. I'm charging through like a bull in a China shop because Batman is the best. I once read a comment that said, "People who define their personalities by superhero movies are weird people." And you know what? That person was 100% correct, but I don't care. I love Batman, goddammit. And right now, I get the opportunity to talk about one of my favorite television shows of all time "Batman: The Animated Series."

"Eh, fuck it, it's for kids" is one of the worst excuses people make when judging children's entertainment. Kids generally will enjoy anything that caters to them because it features brightly colored moving images on a screen. I liked a lot of dumb shit when I was a kid, but the true testament of a great children's series is not how it appeals to those kids. It's about how it appeals to those kids when they grow up. I loved "Batman: The Animated Series" when I was younger, and I've come to enjoy it even more as an adult. It's almost inhuman how good this series is. It's so well written and animated. The voice acting is incredible, and it just has such a great feel for what makes these characters meaningful and memorable. Batman's remarkable rogue's gallery of villains is on full display, with Mark Hamill's Joker being at the forefront.

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We've had a lot of pretty darn good live-action interpretations of Batman. Michael Keaton did a pretty good job. Christian Bale, despite that gravelly voice, I thought was excellent. I wouldn't say I liked that Ben Affleck shot people in the head and murdered people, but I thought Ben Affleck, as a performer, did an excellent job as Batman. I can't wait to see Robert Pattinson. With that said, the definitive Batman voice will always belong to Kevin Conroy. There will never be anybody better. 

The way this series fleshes out Conroy's version of Bruce Wayne and Batman is gratifying. I remember when Joel Schumacher was making "Batman Forever" and Batman and Robin, he kept talking about how he was making a live-action comic book. I don't think he ever knew what he was talking about. But "Batman: The Animated Series" is a comic book that comes to life. It has tame elements because it's supposed to be for children, but it features legitimate adult themes that tug at your heartstrings. Episodes like "Perchance To Dream" and the "Batman: Mask Of The Phantasm," which was an extension of "Batman: The Animated Series," do a fantastic job of tapping into the psyche and trauma of Bruce Wayne. 

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that the Arkham games from the late 2000's-mid 2010s were written by the same crew that wrote the animated series. Those games were a massive part of my adolescence. "Batman: Arkham City" is probably my top five favorite pieces of media, whether it be film, television, video games, of all time. I'll never forget sitting in my basement, bumping "Cole World: The Sideline Story" for weeks on end as I collected every single one of those dumb Riddler trophies. And while the gameplay and the combat were excellent, what makes that series so good is the same thing that makes the animated series so good: the characters are endearing and fascinating. Once you watch the animated series, play the Arkham games because they are an actual conclusion to the animated series. Bruce Timm and Paul Dini know Batman better than almost anyone. The entire animated series is on HBO Max. Give it a watch if you have the opportunity. You won't regret it.