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. Assistant Editor Kevin Gunn details The Dark Knight, The Man of Steel and their history together as stars in television animation.
The New Adventures of Superman / The Batman/Superman Hour (1966 to 1969) – Our journey starts on September 10, 1966. The New Adventures of Superman premiered on CBS. Actors Clayton “Bud” Collyer and Joan Alexander would reprise their roles as Superman/Clark Kent and Lois Lane, with Jackson Beck coming back as the narrator. And while he and The Caped Crusader never shared time together on the screen, they would headline the third season and incarnation of the series titled The Batman/Superman Hour in 1968. Alan Soule and Casey Kasem starred as The Dynamic Duo. And Soule would pull double duty as Batman/Bruce Wayne and Alfred Pennyworth. Soule and Kasem would later revisit their roles as Batman and Robin, respectively, in…
The Super Friends (1973 to 1986) – “Banded together from the cosmic reaches of the universe…” For the first time ever, Batman and Superman (this time played by Danny Dark) would share the same screen with comrades Aquaman and Wonder Woman. For 9 seasons on ABC, the quartet would fight alongside Robin, Wendy, Marvin, Wonder Dog and The Wonder Twins. Their ranks would also increase to bring familiar heroes from DC Comics to the fold like The Atom, Green Arrow, Green Lantern and The Flash. The also introduced new heroes such as Apache Chief, Black Vulcan (a pastiche of Black Lightning), El Dorado and Samurai. The last 2 seasons brought changes to the show. Soule would fill the role of Professor Martin Stein, one half of the superhero Firestorm. Batman would be recast by the actor who has some experience with the character, Adam West. Cyborg, a popular character from the comic book series The Teen Titans, would join the group in the final season (retitled The Super Powers Team: Galactic Guardians), played by Ernie Hudson. Hudson played Winston Zeddemore in Ghostbusters and Ghostbusters II.
The New Batman/Superman Adventures (1997 to 2000) – For a recap on this series, please visit our feature which can be found here. The creation of this merger led to a revamping of sorts for the following series…
Justice League / Justice League Unlimited (2001 to 2006) – Not since The Super Friends has there been a collection of DC Comics superheroes on one show. But don’t get it twisted. These people were anything but “friends.” At most, they were cordial. At times, they were more than cordial. While Super Friends was in fact a Saturday Morning show, Justice League was anything but. True, children watched the series airing on Cartoon Network, but the plots and characters were not treated as childlike. And no punches were pulled, literally and figuratively, compared to its predecessor. Kevin Conroy would reprise his role as the Dark Knight from previous series Batman: TAS and The New Batman/Superman Adventures. And George Newbern would fill the red boots of Superman left vacant by Tim Daly who had another television commitment. After the Thanagarian Invasion, the remaining founding members extended their ranks, adding both popular and sometimes forgotten characters. And the show was rebranded Justice League Unlimited.
The Batman (2004 to 2008) – Kids WB offered a new take on the Dark Knight. The first few seasons of the show offered a glimpse of Bruce Wayne’s early career as protector of Gotham. Rino Romano would give voice to Batman in this series. Seasons Three to Five saw the show transform into a more familiar Batman, adding Batgirl (Danielle Judovits) and Robin (Evan Sabara) to cast. At the start of the final season, Batman would team up with Superman (George Newbern returning as the Man of Steel) to take down Lex Luthor (played by Clancy Brown, who portrayed him in Superman: TAS and Justice League).
Batman: The Brave and the Bold (2008 to 2011) – Diedrich Bader would lend his voice to Batman; in what has to be a love letter from James Tucker to the campiness of the live action Batman series and Batman comic books from the 60’s. Bader may have provided the voice on the Cartoon Network series, but it could have easily been lines written for Adam West (who incidentally was a guest in an episode). Since this was a show about Batman, the producers wanted guest heroes to be of the “B” average and sometimes lower range. They pulled out all the stops for the third and final season. In “Battle of the Superheroes!”, Batman goes toe-to-toe against Superman (played by Roger Rose) who is infected with Red Kryptonite. In the episode, Batman dons a battle suit similar to the one he wears in the comic book series Batman: The Dark Knight Returns. The two would team up again in “Triumvirate of Terror!”, this time joined by Wonder Woman (played by Vicki Lewis).
Later this week, the Man of Steel and the Dark Knight will meet for the first time on the silver screen in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. But it’s important to remember that these television shows made it possible for the two characters to meet on film.