In honor of the upcoming release of Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, DC Comics News is proud to present Countdown To Batman V Superman; a look at the history of these 2 iconic legends right before they meet for the first time on the big screen. In today’s installment, Assistant Editor Kevin Gunn gives us a retrospective of the series that served as the catalyst for the animated, Bruce Timm version of Justice League – The New Batman Superman Adventures.
The year was 1995. Media and entertainment company Time Warner had just launched with then partner Tribune Broadcasting a new network called The WB. The network ran a children’s programming block, appropriately named Kids’ WB. Shows ran on Saturday mornings from 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 am, and weekdays from 4:00 to 5:00 p.m. EST.
One of the creators behind Batman: The Animated Series (BTAS), artist and producer Bruce Timm, was approached to give his take on the classic icon Superman. Timm would borrow elements from the 1940s Fleischer Studios Superman-cartoon and from the then recent reboot of the character earlier in 1986, giving fans a more grounded Man of Steel, and a more confident Clark Kent. This was in contrast to the bumbling Christopher Reeve version, and more in line with George Reeve’s portrayal of the character.
Superman: The Animated Series (STAS), starring Tim Daly, premiered on Saturday, September 6, 1996. And like BTAS, it had nuances of adult subjects and touted a signature style. But something was missing.
The final episode of Batman: The Animated Series aired on FOX on September 15, 1995. But on September 13, 1997, almost 2 years later, The Dark Knight was reborn. The New Batman Superman Adventures premiered. It featured an hour long format on weekends with 22 minutes (plus commercials) dedicated to both Superman and Batman. The weekday episodes would center on one of the characters, with the occasional exception when Batman, Superman or one of the supporting cast would be featured as a guest on Superman (like Batgirl and Supergirl teaming up in “Girls Nite Out”). Kevin Conroy and most of the cast would return, but there were also changes. Also, episodes of BTAS were also reaired.
The art of the series was more streamlined to complement the palette used on STAS. Conroy altered his voice to give more of a distinction between Bruce Wayne and Batman. Batgirl was given a more prominent role in this series, and was now voiced by Tara Strong. Dick Grayson (played by Loren Lester) discarded his Robin persona to adopt the codename Nightwing, while Tim Drake (voiced by Mathew Valencia) would become the new Boy Wonder.
The Dark Knight and the Man of Steel would meet on the latter’s show in a 3 part episodes titled aptly enough “World’s Finest,” which premiered on October 4, 1997. The plot featured Lex Luthor scheming with The Joker to kill Superman. While Bruce Wayne visited Metropolis for a joint venture with Luthor. In the process, sparks fly between Wayne and Clark Kent’s co-worker, Lois Lane. These 3 episodes would later be packaged and released on VHS and DVD as The Batman Superman Movie.
So while we anxiously await the theatre release of Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, it’s probably safe to say we wouldn’t be able to look forward to the film had it not been for The New Batman Superman Adventures.