How to Write Batman According to the DCAU

first_imgStay on target Christian Bale Shares Cheeky Batsuit Advice for Robert PattinsonRobert Pattinson Describes Trying on the Batsuit for First Time Ace is a girl about to die. She’s an incredibly powerful psychic and metahuman that has a city at its knees. She has altered reality into a shadowed fun house. For such a small person, she has the normally domineering Amanda Waller scared shitless, so she gives Batman a device that she says will kill Ace before an aneurysm unleashes a wave that alters reality and he walks calmly into the haunted brush. He comes across the girl, playing on a swing, fully aware that she’s about to die. And then he does something crazy.He sits down on the swing next to her and holds her hand.There have been dozens of interpretations of the Batman character, so I’m not here to say that there is one definitive version. Some are more entertaining than others, whether it’s a campy take on the character such as in the Adam West television show, or a darker and more psychologically disturbed Bruce Wayne like in… every recent adaptation. Some drench themselves in yellow paint in order to take down Green Lantern because they want to be the big boss or some shit (I’m still not entirely sure what happened here and I don’t think anybody does).However, no Batmen have come close to what many people consider their “canon” version of the character than the one in the 1990s DC animated universe (or the DCAU). His introduction was in Batman: The Animated Series, which began airing in 1992, and has become a template for most Batmen ever since. Since then, this version of the character–who you can assume is the same character based on the continuity between all the DCAU shows–has appeared in Justice League and in Batman Beyond, among other spinoffs and films. It’s this Batman–in his gray suit, black mask, and with the deep, soothing voice of Kevin Conroy–that is the ultimate Batman, and one that writers attempting to take over the character need to study.He can’t be all edgeFor many, this is the embodiment of Batman, and not just because for a lot of us, this was our first exposure to the character. It’s a version that exemplifies his character highlights and flaws–his sense of duty to Gotham, his high intelligence, and his ingenuity, but also his inability to get close to others, and how his dedication to his second job keeps him from accepting the cruelties that led him to this point.It’s tough to make superheroes interesting in the long run. They need to be power fantasies, but also need to be three dimensional enough to keep readers interested. The campy stores of the Golden and Silver Ages of comics don’t fly as well as they used to, so comics writers have been struggling (just look at what’s happened with Superman). It’s easy to make Batman disturbed and angsty, or an antihero. His origin story, plus his dark aesthetic, scream “I have issues!” It’s also why he’s so easy to make fun of, such as in The Lego Movie, where he’s the embodiment of edgy teens everywhere.You need tragedy to have a Batman. At this point in the character’s history you can’t really erase something that large (even if you can spin it into something else, such as in Flashpoint). What you can do is have a Batman that copes with the tragedy in his own, weird way and often fails. This is a very human trait. Trauma tends to leave its mark in the long term and Wayne wouldn’t just get over something like a double homicide so easily, especially one that is so ingrained in his person. You can’t just punch trauma in the face, and a psychological conflict can add a lot to a Batman interpretation.He’s an actual detectiveHis nickname is the “world’s greatest detective,” but you’d be surprised how often people forget that he has to do some actual detecting. This is even more pronounced in the Justice League series, where Batman is putting his stealth and technological skills to use. He manages to be a show off in regards to the other members, even though he’s in the minority of heroes without any powers. When he says that he can basically take down every member of the JLA because he knows everybody’s weaknesses you believe it because of how detailed and observant he proves to be.This is one of the things that Dawn of Justice gets correct about its depictions of the iconic hero. In this, Bruce Wayne actually does detective work. There are a few times where he seems to go in and start punching and shooting things without any foresight, but Batman is the kind of person who doesn’t just go flying into the scene of a major crime. He gets data first. Sure he’s got a lot of extremely high-tech equipment that he doesn’t share with the police department, but he does use it. Considering the image that prevails of Batman–the one of the man swooping down from a building and punching bad guys in the face–it’s rare to see a depiction of him that’s cautious and meditative.This differing of philosophies also ensures that Wayne and his prodigee, Terry McGinnis, are constantly butting heads in Batman Beyond. Terry is hotheaded and Wayne always calls for him to calm down. It’s not a unique dynamic, but it works because it’s entirely in character for Batman.He cares for childrenFor me, this is the most important thing to note when writing Batman. His interaction with Ace comes in the Justice League Unlimited episode “Epilogue,” which ties together all of these instances: Batman: The Animated Series, Justice League, and Batman Beyond. The episode sets up some other story pieces that can be ignored (mostly the retconning that made Bruce Terry’s father), but Waller’s reminiscing of Bruce Wayne highlights the most important aspect of Batman, the one that’s often missing.Bruce Wayne was a child once. He was a child that was there when he lost both his parents to violence. There’s a part of him that is still that scared kid, who feels helpless to save Gotham, which is why most of his history has seen him taking care of lost and broken kids. The Robin tradition has been mocked relentlessly, but at its core is Bruce attempting to be a father figure that he never had (besides Alfred). It’s unhealthy in a lot of ways, and despite his cautious nature with certain Robins, it’s incredibly dangerous. Jason Todd died at the hands of the Joker. In the DCAU, Tim Drake was brainwashed by the Joker and turned against his former partner. Bruce often feels guilt over these things, and he has every right to. He put small children in danger.But at his core is somebody who cares deeply about children, which brings us back to Ace. It’s on the nose, but she has a lot in common with Batman.“They got their weapon. I was cheated out of my childhood,” she tells him. So was Bruce.Let us know what you like about Geek by taking our survey.last_img