20 years ago, we learned that there was more to the symbol of the Batman than just Bruce Wayne. When age finally caught up with him, Wayne passed on the mantle of the Bat to young Terry McGinnis, and it was Terry who then donned an artsy bat-suit and pursued vengeance through a futuristic Gotham City. All of this was thanks to the animated series Batman Beyond.
Starring the legendary Kevin Conroy as Bruce Wayne and Will Friedle as McGinnis, the series (developed by Bruce Timm, Paul Dini, and Alan Burnett) ran for 52 episodes, and spawned one direct-to-video film. In celebration of the series' anniversary, some of the creators of the show gathered at San Diego Comic-Con 2019 to celebrate...SYFY WIRE was there to join in on the festivities.
The big news of the panel was that a remastered Blu-ray box set of the complete series is coming, which will include Return of the Joker. All 52 episodes will be there of course, as well as a ton of bonus features. A special Funko chrome action figure of Terry McGinnis will also sweeten the bat-pot That’s a lot to celebrate, but it certainly wasn’t everything.
Moderated by Gary Miereanu, the panel was comprised of series writers Stan Berkowitz and Bob Goodman, director James Tucker, producer Glen Murakami, casting and voice director Andrea Romano, as well as Timm, Friedle, and Conroy.
Timm kicked things off by going into the genesis of the series, recounting how the group of creators went to a meeting and were asked to develop a teen Batman for a younger audience. He, Paul Dini and Alan Burnett came up with the idea of setting it in the future, and not only were they given an instant green light, the entire thing was ordered to be ready for that fall.
Murakami said that the the idea was to get away from the noir feeling that Batman: The Animated Series had become so famous for. They wanted to show audiences a different style, a more anime look, and a different kind of editing. Goodman added, "Even though we were asked to do a show that skewed younger, we ended up telling more mature stories that were more violent..so we took what we were supposed to do and subverted it.”
"It was unique to do a show with two Batmans and explore the contrast between them,” Goodman continued. Still, who would voice those two Batmans? Even though they wanted to set the show apart from it’s predecessor, they did want to keep continuity with it. This is one of many reasons that Bruce Wayne was never going to be recast, and Conroy remained firmly in place. As far as Friedle is concerned, he was cast as Terry because Timm’s wife saw him on Sabrina the Teenage Witch, as well as Boy Meets World, where he was a regular character.
Fans of the series will surely remember the dazzling opening credits—Timm revealed that he shot some of the sequence in his kitchen, spinning a Batman figure on a lazy susan. Perhaps some actual footage of him doing this will feature as an extra on the Blu-ray set, which they then went into more detail about.
41 episodes of the series were fully remastered, but the remaining 11 were only “upgraded.” Apparently the original materials were too timeworn and damaged for a full remaster to be possible. In a side-by-side comparison, the remastered version looked much sharper and brighter, as one would hope.
A fan asked about how the creators went about updating the villains, to which Timm responded that they didn't want to do "Joker Beyond" or something similar. Instead, they used the archetypes of classic Batman villains and revamped them as futuristic new villains— Clayface was the inspiration for Inque, and so forth. Obviously the show did dabble with some classic villains (The Joker, R'as al Ghul, Bane) but they were the exceptions.
In terms of additional heroes, they ended up using Big Barda on the show when the Justice League came in because at that time, they no longer had the rights to use Wonder Woman. She would have cost too much, so Big Barda got a big moment.
That's when a small child asked the panel if they would ever do another season of the show. Timm answered, "We would totally do it," but then adds that the Blu-ray set would have to sell a lot of copies and create some buzz.
If you're dying to start that buzz going (and want to see the remastering for yourself), you'll be able to digitally purchase the fully remastered Batman Beyond on 10/15, with it then coming to Blu-ray on 10/29.
Click here for SYFY WIRE’s full coverage of San Diego Comic-Con 2019, including up-to-the-minute news, exclusive interviews, and videos.