Top 10: Characters for Batman: The Animated Series Return by Jerry Whitworth
Since the end of Batman: The Animated Series and its sequel series The New Batman Adventures and Batman Beyond, fans have clamored for a return to that world. Giving rise to the so-called DC Animated Universe which included shows like Superman: The Animated Series, Lobo, Gotham Girls, Static Shock, The Zeta Project, Justice League, and Justice League Unlimited, the brand has seen a recent resurgence with films like Batman and Harley Quinn (2017) and Justice League vs. the Fatal Five (2019). However, if rumors are to be believed, Batman: The Animated Series will be getting a sequel web-exclusive series. Entertainment insider Daniel Richtman reported earlier in the month that HBO Max is well into development of the project with acclaimed director Kevin Smith recently claiming he has also heard this rumor about a month ago from his own insiders. Breaking the internet, the world now eagerly awaits official confirmation. While we wait, lets look at what characters might be making the transition to the DCAU in this upcoming proposed series.
Central antagonist of the acclaimed Batman: The Long Halloween, Holiday was a mysterious serial killer committing murders on holidays. Intriguingly enough, the identity of the killer is never revealed (as it’s speculated it was likely there were in fact multiple murderers using the identity), though crime lord Carmine Falcone’s son Alberto took credit for the crimes. With a two-part animated adaption of Long Halloween arriving direct-to-video later this year and Matt Reeves’ 2022 Batman film rumored to be loosely based on the story, there maybe more interest in Holiday than ever before. This might in fact work against Holiday emerging in the Batman: The Animated Series sequel but given the likely more mature tone of the show and the bingeable nature of streaming content, this would be the opportune moment to bring it to the setting.
A relatively recent addition to the Gotham Knights/Batman Family, Bluebird is Harper Row, a youth from the Narrows inspired by Batman to become a hero. Proving herself to be popular with fans and quickly working her way up the hierarchy of Batman’s allies, Bluebird can be something of a Batgirl for the modern day. Also, given her connection to Leslie Thompkins in the comics and that character’s prominence in Batman: The Animated Series, her addition almost writes itself.
Born from the ashes of the Batmen of All Nations/Club of Heroes, Batman Incorporated was the brainchild of Bruce Wayne when he seemingly returned from the dead (actually displaced in the past) where he claimed to have financed Batman’s activities from the beginning and sought to franchise the brand. Training and financing heroes around the world, Batman recruited his former allies from the Club of Heroes like the Knight, Man-of-Bats, Gaucho, and Dark Ranger and added new heroes like Mr. Unknown, Hood, Batwing, Nightrunner, Kingbat, and the Blue Falcon as the members of the Gotham Knights/Batman Family and Outsiders helped fill out the ranks. In the context of the Batman: The Animated Series universe, it could be intriguing to tackle something of an untold chapter of the character’s history in regards to the Club of Heroes as well as see Batman go international where original characters such as Kyodai Ken and Red Claw could be intriguing foes to face these new heroes. Not to mention, an adaptation of the Black Glove and Club of Villains storylines would be remarkable. Perhaps the cartoon could take the concept a step further and adapt Bat-Hombre and the Bat-Man of China, as well.
Daughter of two of the world’s premier assassins in David Cain and Lady Shiva, Cassandra Cain was born in an attempt to produce the greatest assassin to ever exist. However, after being forced to kill at age eight, she was horrified at what she had done and abandoned her father. Emerging in Gotham City, Cassandra adopted the mantle of Batgirl and became arguably the closest of any of Batman’s proteges to reach the depths of his fighting ability (if not being on track to surpass it). So confidant in her abilities, Batman permitted the girl to operate independently of him after a time seeing her adopt such identities as the Black Bat and Orphan. Cassandra’s storyline would be unique if adapted, bringing not only her tale but that of her parents (who, at different points, were both Bruce Wayne’s teachers) into the world of Batman: The Animated Series. In fact, it could open the door for other notable martial art figures like the Sensei, Richard Dragon, Bronze Tiger, Silver Monkey, Deathstroke, Conner Hawke, Circle of Six, or the Twelve Brothers in Silk into the series.
Another more recent addition to the Gotham Knights/Batman Family, Duke Thomas was a member of the We Are Robin movement organized by Alfred Pennyworth to help combat crime and corruption in Gotham during the absence of Batman. In time, the returning Dark Knight took on Thomas as an apprentice where the youth adopted the identity of the Signal. While most of Batman’s young allies are highly trained people, Signal is unique in that he’s also a metahuman with the ability to manipulate light and shadow. An adaptation of the We Are Robin storyline and Alfred’s expansion of his role in the Bat-family in Batman: The Animated Series would make for an interesting arc in the show.
Short for Professor Pygmalion, Professor Pyg was scientist Lazlo Valentin who suffered a psychotic break that compelled him to experiment on people in order to make them perfect. His victims became mindless slaves he called Dollotrons that followed his commands without hesitation. Pyg lead a criminal organization called the Circus of Strange which included Mister Toad, Phosphorus Rex, Big Top, and Siam among its number. The character initially appeared among an assemblage of new rogues created by Grant Morrison that included Flamingo, Jackanapes, Max Roboto, and the Weasel. Pyg proved so popular a creation, he immediately transitioned to various outlets outside of the printed page in both live action and animated television. It is then likely the character will appear in the new Batman: The Animated Series sooner rather than later.
Already introduced in the Batman: The Animated Series universe in a fashion, Batwoman was a central character for the film Batman: Mystery of the Batwoman (2003). Therein, a trio of women, Kathy Duquesne, Det. Sonia Alcana, and Dr. Rocky Ballantine, aligned to seek vengeance on the Penguin, Rupert Thorne, and Carlton Duquesne by sharing the guise of Batwoman. The film was met with mixed reviews and is generally forgotten by fans of the DC Animated Universe. Since that time, DC Comics introduced a new version of the character in Kate Kane, a cousin of Bruce Wayne inspired by Batman to fight crime. Renee Montoya, a character originally created for Batman: The Animated Series, was introduced as an on-again/off-again love interest of the character. Today, this version of Batwoman was featured in her own television series until being replaced by a new, original character when the actress who portrayed Kate Kane dropped out of the role. With all these elements kept in mind, the character could fit well in a sequel to the classic animated series.
The childhood best friend of Bruce Wayne, Tommy Elliot was revealed to be the mysterious psychopath Hush. Born into means, Elliot tried to engineer the demise of his parents for his inheritance only for Thomas Wayne to perform surgery on his mother and save her life. Resentful of the surgeon, Elliot only grew more spiteful of the Wayne family when Bruce’s parents were murdered and he inherited their fortune. Years later, Riddler deduced Batman’s secret identity and crossed paths with Elliot, realizing they shared a mutual hatred for Wayne and aligned to destroy him. The Hush storyline became one of the most popular of its age. The character transitioned to various media outside of the comics including television and video games, the most recent example being the Batwoman TV show. There is then little doubt Hush will be among the new class of villain for Batman: The Animated Series.
Son of the Batman and Talia al Ghul, Damian Wayne was artificially created to inherit his grandfather Ra’s al Ghul’s organization. Trained at a young age by the League of Assassins, Damian is a cold, calculating, and efficient killer. However, raised on tales of his father’s exploits, when Talia dumped her son on Bruce Wayne’s doorstep to further her own plans, Damian was quick to give allegiance to Batman. This, though, proved a difficult transition given his upbringing as he sought to assassinate Tim Drake to assume his role as Robin and executed the supervillain the Spook in his first costumed outing. Still, Batman did not give up on his son and Damian became more dependable as an ally and friend. Of all of Batman’s more recent additions to his supporting cast, Damian is undoubtedly the best known, most successful, and most adapted outside of the comics. Additionally, his storyline offers a host of characters ripe for inclusion like Leviathan, Heretic, Carrie Kelley, Bat-Cow, Titus, Goliath, Man-Bat Commandos, and White Ghost. With such notoriety, Damian’s transition to Batman: The Animated Series is all but guaranteed.
Arguably the most notable addition to the Batman mythos in the last three decades, the Court of Owls is an ancient secret organization that has controlled Gotham City for centuries. When Bruce Wayne threatened their plans for the future of the city, he was targeted for assassination by the Court bringing the powerful cabal down on the Bat-family. The Court features an army of undead warriors called Talons, among their number is Lincoln March who claims to be Bruce Wayne’s brother Thomas, Dick Grayson’s great-grandfather William Cobb, Calvin Rose who turned on the Court to align with Batman, and Mary Turner who similarly betrayed the Court to befriend Batgirl Barbara Gordon. Given the impact of the Court of Owls on the comics and its prominence in media outside the comics, it almost goes without question it will transfer to Batman: The Animated Series.
Honorable mentions: Black Mask, Batman Who Laughs, Nyssa Raatko, Secret Six, Mr. Zsasz, Red Hood, Mr. Bloom, Plastic Man, Spectre, Spyral, Azrael, Ragman, and Spoiler.