No matter what you feel about “Batman and Robin,” you can’t deny that it almost killed the comic book movie as a sub-genre. It also about killed the careers of Alicia Silverstone, Chris O’Donnell, and Uma Thurman, all of whom took years to recover. Even today with so much nostalgia and looking back on classically bad movies, “Batman and Robin” is still just bad. I understand Warner wanted kid friendly, and Joel Schumacher delivered on kid friendly, but in the process he also delivered a nigh unwatchable sequel that also killed Batman on film for years until Christopher Nolan swooped in to reboot the whole kit and caboodle.
If “Batman” was the opening act of Tim Burton’s iteration of Batman, “Batman Returns” is a pretty epic second chorus that pretty much completes the picture. Whether or not you believe Burton dropped out, or was ousted by Warner for being too dark or violent, “Batman Returns” is a pretty good closing chapter in Burton’s Batman world, even in spite of its flaws. Hell, it’s a better film than “Batman,” despite the fact it objectively garners the more obvious flaws than the 1989 original.
It’s a new era and a brand new format for movie lovers and Warner Bros. is offering up their “Batman” movie anthology from the 1990’s on 4K UHD for those that have converted. With “Batman” also celebrating its thirtieth anniversary (where does the time go?) since its theatrical release, Tim Burton’s iconic adaptation of the DC Comics hero manages to appear once again in an even higher definition making it—uh—Battier? Burtoner? In either case, the good news is “Batman” is still a solid iteration of the Dark Knight, which is all that counts.
After years of delivering a new style of animation for a new generation of DC and Warner fans, the DC animation department is going back to the well and reviving the classic Bruce Timm animation style for some brand new films. While they all haven’t been slam dunks, “Justice League vs. The Fatal Five” is a fine return to form for a part of DC Comics Entertainment that almost always delivers. It’s certainly better than the junky 2017 “Batman and Harley Quinn” movie, and even takes the time out to delve in to important overtones about PTSD, Mental illness, and overcoming our fears.
After what’s been a mixed bag of titles in the DC Universe animation library, DC and Warner has suddenly decided to re-visit the classic Bruce Timm animation universe they retired so long ago. Not that I’m complaining, as it’s been a pretty awesome experience re-visiting the style that helped usher in much of what we know from DC Animation from the nineties in to pop culture. “Justice League vs. The Fatal Five” is thankfully a fun re-visit to this property that works as a semi-sequel to the “Justice League” animated series that also seems to be testing the platform for “The Legion of Superheroes,” again.
David Sanberg makes the leap from solid horror chillers to blockbusters with what is surprisingly one of DC/Warner’s most modest superhero movie to date. While “Wonder Woman” and “Aquaman” had massive epic plots about world wars and societies in peril, “Shazam!” is a more personal and down to Earth tale with very relevant overtones about bullies and the damage they can inflict on the people they victimize, as well as the environment around them. Sure, “Shazam!” is a superhero movie, but it’s also one worth watching for its positive ideas, and fantastic energy.
I think one of the two reasons why Bruce Timm’s iteration of Batman continues to be such a celebrated staple of animation is that Timm didn’t just take Batman seriously, he took his audience seriously. Before then, if you wanted to see an animated version of Batman, you had to watch “The Super Friends,” “Scooby Doo Movies,” or the Filmation series. “Batman: The Animated Series” stands on its own in the annals of 90’s animation and is still considered the gold standard by fans, right down to the voice actors.
With the end of Batman: the Animated Series, the DC Comics/Warner Bros. animation golden boy of the 90s, Bruce Timm, was called upon once again to create another hit Saturday morning series. This time it would a series geared to a much younger audience, full of futuristic technology and action packed, and it would be called Batman Beyond. The show wasn’t a pandering, youth-oriented take with no substance (I’m looking at you Spider-Man Unlimited) either; it was a dark, complex, and very unique spin on the Batman lore.