Batman: The Animated Series and its stellar voice cast are heading to the recording studio…as an audio drama?
Batman: TAS as An Audio Drama – Who’s Involved and What Do We Remember?
This past Los Angeles Comic Con saw BTAS alums Kevin Conroy (Bruce Wayne/Batman) and John Glover (Edward Nygma/The Ridder) at “The History of Batman” Panel announced that series writer Alan Burnett is preparing an audio drama treatment for the franchise. As to what to expect, Kevin only remarked “It’s a great script and it brings back the [original cast.]” Further excitement was generated by the news that Academy-Award Winning Composer Danny Elfman would write the theme, as he had done so for the 1989 film, which was adapted for the animated title theme.
As to Glover’s Riddler, the actor noted that “[Nygma has] evolved in many [ways. He] understands he’s on the spectrum.”
Debuting on Fox in 1993 on the heels of the successful Tim Burton films, Batman: The Animated Series. Burnett, fellow writer Paul Dini and producer/artist Bruce Timm broke all the rules with its grounded storytelling, unique moody “Dark Deco” style, mature psychological twists, stellar voice work, and faithfulness to the source material. Audio drama format should be no problem for the cast, as Voice Director Andrea Romano cast these amazing actors and ran sessions in the recording studio like a radio drama. The series also debuted Harley Quinn, whose bit part soon caught fire and a fan following that led to her breaking into the regular comics continuity. It even redesigned Mister Freeze’s origin, turning him from a one-dimensional villain to a complex, tormented soul obsess with avenging the loss of his wife. That episode, “Heart of Ice,” was so well received it was nominated for an Emmy Award.
Besides two feature films, the foundation laid by the series and its sequel series – unofficially entitled Batman: Gotham Knights, with Tara Strong replacing Melissa Gilbert as Batgirl – provided the springboard for a shared universe, started by Superman: The Animated Series in 1996 on The WB network. Both were soon followed by the futuristic Batman Beyond, Justice League, Static Shock!, and Justice League Unlimited. Conroy reprised his role as The Dark Knight for all of these iterations, as his Batman voice became the gold standard for his successors as much as that of his arch-nemesis, The Joker, brought to life by the talented Mark Hamill. In fact, both repirsed their roles later in the Rocksteady Batman: Arkham video game series.
It is unknown at this point as to which members of the cast will be returning. Besides Hamill and Gilbert, other surviving members include Arleen Sorkin (Dr. Harleen Quinzell/Harley Quinn), Ron Perlman (Matt Hagen/Clayface), Paul Williams (Oswald Cobblepot/Penguin), Adrienne Barbeau (Selina Kyle/Catwoman), Richard Moll (Harvey Dent/Two-Face) Diane Pershing (Pamela Isley/Poison Ivy), Helen Slater (Talia), Loren Lester (Dick Grayson/Nightwing), David Warner (Ra’s al Ghul), and Robert Costanzo. Sadly recasting will be required for the roles of Alfred Pennyworth and Commissioner Gordon as original portrayers Efram Zembalist Jr. and Bob Hastings, respectively, past away in recent years.
While this is not the first Batman audio drama, this embedded in the animated world that those who grew up in the 1990s and early 2000’s will definitely take note. More will be developed as it’s available, same Bat-time, same Bat-channel.