The Animated Series Is The Definitive Depiction Of The Dark Knight And His Villains

The Joker admittedly has been done, and done well, in live-action. The same goes for his 1966 “Batman” and “The Batman” compatriots, Penguin, Catwoman, and Riddler, respectively voiced by Paul Williams, Adrienne Barbeau, and John Glover in “The Animated Series.” Yet these versions hold their own and give each character extended play, not to mention a distinct musical feel courtesy of composer Shirley Walker’s leitmotifs. In “Joker’s Favor,” for instance, whoopee-cushion whistling accompanies the Clown Prince of Crime. The “Home Alone”-like “I’ve Got Batman in My Basement” has a soundtrack that musically waddles when the bird-minded Penguin makes his entrance. 

With Michelle Pfeiffer still fresh in the mind of 1992 viewers, Barbeau’s animal-loving, morally grey-costumed Catwoman had the distinction of kicking off “Batman: The Animated Series” with the first aired episode, “The Cat and the Claw, Part I.” She burgles from the rich and gives to the poor, and Anne Hathaway’s Seline Kyle in “The Dark Knight Rises” has a similar attitude toward Gotham’s wealthy elite. This wouldn’t be the last time “Batman: The Animated Series” influenced the movies.

Riddler comes in further down the line, but his debut, “If You’re So Smart, Why Aren’t You Rich?” reimagines him as a genius game designer exploited by a work-for-hire contract in a maze of cubicles. He sends Batman and Robin (Loren Lester) through one modeled after his game, “The Riddle of the Minotaur.” Riddler’s scheme to enact vengeance on his boss is echoed in Jim Carrey’s slapstick 1995 portrayal, while Paul Dano’s 2022 serial-killer version mirrors his tech-savvy side with “over 500” online followers.

These are the standard players, but the deeper you go, the more “Batman: The Animated Series” shows the untapped potential of the Dark Knight’s full line-up of antagonists.

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