The Epic Evolution of Tim Burton's Batman 3 Surpassed Even Batman Forever

The Epic Evolution of Tim Burton's Batman 3 Surpassed Even Batman Forever

Tim Burton's Batman 3 surpassed Batman Forever, offering a new level of depth and darkness The success continued with Batman: The Animated Series, which stayed true to Burton's vision while also inspiring the subsequent Schumacher films

Batman: The Animated Series, although not directly connected to the Tim Burton Batman movies, captured the essence of Batman Returns better than Batman Forever did. In 1990, Warner Bros. Animation enlisted the talents of artists from the successful Tiny Toons show to develop a spin-off animated series based on the triumph of Batman (1989). While Batman: TAS was not a direct sequel to Batman or Batman Returns, it owes its existence to the influence of these iconic Burton films, thanks to the creative forces of Bruce Timm, Eric Radomski, Paul Dini, and Mitch Brian.

Since the debut of Batman: TAS, numerous Batman animated shows and movies have been produced. Nevertheless, Batman: The Animated Series continues to be hailed as one of the most remarkable portrayals of Batman and his infamous adversaries. As the DC Animated Universe timeline expanded beyond the realms of the Burton films, the shared history with Batman and Batman Returns, and their impact on Batman Forever and Batman & Robin, remains a significant part of the enduring legacy of the Batman movie franchise.

Batman The Animated Series Was A Spiritual Successor To Burton’s Batman Films

The Epic Evolution of Tim Burton's Batman 3 Surpassed Even Batman Forever

After the immense success of the film Batman (1989), Warner Bros. decided to create a Batman animated series as part of their overall brand strategy leading up to the release of Batman Returns. The marketing campaign for Batman (1989) had been groundbreaking for blockbuster films, and the studio wanted to replicate that success for Batman Returns. Unlike the initial Batman film, which had faced some delays, Batman Returns moved forward relatively quickly. This resulted in the fast-tracking of the Batman animated series project. On September 5, 1992, Batman: The Animated Series premiered, just two months after the release of Batman Returns.

It's important to note that Tim Burton, the director of the Batman films, was not involved with Batman: The Animated Series. The success of the animated series should not solely be attributed to the popularity of the Batman movies. However, Batman: The Animated Series would not have come to fruition if the studio had not been pleased with Batman (1989). As a result, there were naturally similarities between Batman: The Animated Series and Burton's Batman movies. While the animated series does not exist within the same continuity as Batman and Batman Returns, the three projects are connected. The aesthetic of Gotham City in Batman: The Animated Series drew inspiration from the same sources as Tim Burton's Gotham, albeit with different approaches.

The soundtrack of Batman: The Animated Series, composed by Shirley Walker who collaborated with Danny Elfman in Batman (1989), established a strong connection between the series and the Burton films. While the themes in Batman: TAS conveyed a sense of belonging to the same universe as Batman and Batman Returns, they also brought a unique element that set the tone for the entire DC Animated Universe. Furthermore, similarities in character designs and backstories were shared between Batman: TAS and the Burton films. For instance, the Joker, portrayed by Mark Hamill in his first Joker performance, used the alias Jack Napier in Batman: The Animated Series. Additionally, Batman: TAS drew heavy inspiration from Tim Burton's work in Batman Returns for the characters Catwoman and the Penguin. Bruce Timm, the creator of Batman: TAS, had the opportunity to witness firsthand Danny DeVito's portrayal of the Penguin and Michelle Pfeiffer's depiction of Catwoman on set. The studio aimed to emulate the appearance of these characters from the movies in the animated series. As a result, Selina Kyle and Oswald Cobblepot in Batman: TAS were remarkably similar in appearance to their counterparts in Batman Returns.

TAS Felt More Like Batman & Batman Returns Than Batman Forever

The Epic Evolution of Tim Burton's Batman 3 Surpassed Even Batman Forever

The list of similarities between Tim Burton's Batman films and Batman: The Animated Series is extensive. However, what truly sets Batman: TAS apart as a continuation of the first two films is its tone, rather than just the story and character designs. The show adopts a noir approach to Batman, captures the timeless essence of Gotham City, and delves into the psychological exploration of Batman's adversaries, all of which align with the elements present in the Tim Burton films. In this regard, Batman: The Animated Series feels more like a sequel to Batman Returns than Batman Forever, despite existing in its own continuity.

Batman: The Animated Series was commissioned at a time when Batman (1989) had achieved remarkable success. Conversely, Batman Forever was developed as a response to the criticism faced by Batman Returns. Not only did Batman Returns generate lower box office revenues compared to its predecessor, but it also received backlash for its dark tone. The ominous atmosphere of Batman Returns even had an impact on the movie's associated merchandise, as certain brands were dissatisfied with the film's mood. With Tim Burton opting out of Batman 3, Joel Schumacher was brought on board to create a lighter, slightly more lighthearted Batman film with Batman Forever.

Therefore, although Batman Forever is technically a sequel to Batman Returns, it fails to maintain the same atmosphere established in the Burton Batman movies. This contrast in tone becomes even more apparent in Batman & Robin, which actor Chris O’Donnell likened to a “toy commercial” due to its campy nature. In contrast, Batman: The Animated Series stays true to its darker tone throughout its entirety. In fact, Batman: TAS often delves into even darker and more daring themes than the Burton films, despite being a children's television show.

Batman TAS Inspired (& Was Inspired By) Schumacher’s Batman Films Too

The Epic Evolution of Tim Burton's Batman 3 Surpassed Even Batman Forever

Batman: The Animated Series may feel like an extension of the Burton films, but Batman’s animated legacy also has similarities with the Schumacher movies. Although Batman Returns did not meet the studio's expectations, the strategy of brand synergy persisted. Hence, every Batman product had to align with the direction set by Batman Forever in anticipation of Batman & Robin. Consequently, this affected Batman: The Animated Series. In 1997, The New Batman Adventures premiered on Kids’ WB. Despite the new title and character designs, The New Batman Adventures essentially served as the new season of Batman: The Animated Series.

Just like Batman: TAS had to match Batman (1989), The New Batman Adventures had to somewhat match Batman Forever. While this new Batman animated show did not abandon the original series' darker tone in favor of Batman Forever's more lighthearted approach, it offered a more enjoyable and action-packed representation of Gotham City's mythology. The depiction of Batman's adversaries became more vibrant, the conflicts became more grandiose, and the presence of the Bat-family became more prominent. This symbiotic relationship also worked in reverse. For instance, the origin story of Mr. Freeze in Batman & Robin drew significant inspiration from the "Heart of Ice" episode from Batman: The Animated Series.

Batman The Animated Series Grew Beyond The Batman Movies

The Epic Evolution of Tim Burton's Batman 3 Surpassed Even Batman Forever

When discussing Batman: The Animated Series and The New Batman Adventures, it is essential to acknowledge their connections to the Tim Burton and Joel Schumacher Batman movies. Despite this, Batman: TAS quickly established its own identity, surpassing the influence of the films. While a synergistic relationship exists between the Batman movies currently showing in theaters and other Batman properties, Batman: TAS successfully crafted a unique atmosphere. The performances by Kevin Conroy as Batman, Mark Hamill as the Joker, the first appearance of Harley Quinn, and the reimagined origins of Mr. Freeze are just a few examples of the profound impact Batman: The Animated Series had on the character's enduring legacy.

Batman: The Animated Series (Batman: TAS) marked the inception of the DC Animated Universe, often hailed as a top-notch interpretation of the DC Universe across various forms of media. The triumph of Batman: TAS prompted the return of several creators for subsequent projects like Batman Beyond, Superman: The Animated Series, Justice League, Static Shock, and Justice League Unlimited. Additionally, Batman: Mask of the Phantom, set in the identical universe as Batman: The Animated Series, is widely recognized as an exceptional Batman film in history.