Sunday, March 17, 2019

Batman Beyond

A few weeks ago on the Fatman Beyond podcast, Kevin Smith and Marc Bernardin discussed the idea of a Batman: Beyond live action movie. The key to this movie making a billion dollars, according to Smith, was to cast Michael Keaton as the older Bruce Wayne.

The idea is intriguing.

For those who don't know, the animated series "Batman: Beyond" takes place in the future where Bruce Wayne's aged body can no longer keep up with the demands of being the Caped Crusader. This despite a robotic suit. You see, Bruce knew he was losing a step, so he created a cybernetic suit to enhance his strength, including the power of flight. Plus, it's a kick-ass look.

Well, when Bruce-in-the-New-Suit fails, he gives up the mantle forever. Twenty years later, when teenager Terry McGinnis encounters an elderly Bruce Wayne, he also discovers the old man's secret. Terry has his own problems, namely with his dad's murder by Derek Powers, current CEO of the Wayne-Powers company. So he does what every teenager would do.

He steals the Batsuit.

And he's having a jolly old time, fighting the bad guys, including the one who killed his father, when a voice appears in his headset. It's Wayne, and he's pissed. He demands Terry bring the suit back. Terry agrees, but only after he takes care of business.

By the end of the pilot episode, Bruce and Terry have worked out an agreement: Terry becomes the new Batman, but only under Bruce's tutelage.

Thus, we have a new series. It ran for three seasons as part of a Saturday morning line-up starting in 1999. Focusing on teenaged life but with a science fiction bent, Beyond brought  a whole new Rogue's Gallery to the mix. Inque was a great one. Do you remember the T-1000 bad guy Terminator from T2: Judgement Day? Well, Inque is pretty much like that, but black. And not a robot. Powers of course. And the Royal Flush Gang are also great.

The vibe of Beyond's future is an 80s high school movie crossed with Blade Runner. Gotham City really reflects this look.

There's always teenager stuff in every episode, including some of the villains. In episode 4, a scrawny kid who gets pushed around by his dad and the tough kids at school, becomes fused with a giant robot. Now, he gets to be the tough guy. And Batman has to save him. It's exciting, but with Beyond being a cartoon for kids, the violence was only cartoony with little to no death.

Terry was a great character. He brought a zippiness to the banter between him and Bruce. He was impressed by Bruce's history, but not star-struck. He was an outsider. Well, he was an outsider until the unofficial series finale as part of the "Justice League Unlimited" episode entitled "Epilogue" when it was revealed...

Nah. I'm going to spoil that ending. You'll have to learn it for yourself. You can look it up now on the internet or just watch Batman: Beyond. I've started rewatching the series. I'm up through episode four now, mostly on Saturday mornings, with either my Shipley's do-nuts or a bowl of cereal.

In an era where Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse gives us a glimpse of a future with that hero, I think Smith and Bernardin are onto something. And, with the new Batsuit completely covering the human wearing it, you can now have the mantra that anyone could be Batman.

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