Beware the Batman is an American computer-animated television series based on the DC Comics superhero Batman. The series premiered in the United States on Cartoon Network on July 13, 2013, as part of their DC Nation block. It also premiered on Teletoon in Canada on October 11, 2013.
Beware the Batman was pulled from the Cartoon Network schedule and put on hiatus on October 23, 2013, without explanation. Although it was reported that the show would return to DC Nation in January 2014, new episodes do not appear on Cartoon Network's schedule yet. Despite this, tvnz in New Zealand is airing new episodes.
The series is set during Bruce Wayne's early years as the Batman, following his initial period of battling organized crime. Over the course of the season, he hones his skills with the assistance of his butler, Alfred Pennyworth. Bruce is introduced to Alfred's goddaughter, Tatsu Yamashiro. Tatsu is a martial arts swordsmaster hired to act as Bruce's bodyguard, but also recruited to act as a superhero partner to Batman.
- Batman/Bruce Wayne - The title character of the series. Mitch Watson, co-producer of Beware the Batman, explained how the crew behind the series approached Batman for the show the way they did, stating "In the way we approached Batman for this show, he's at the beginning of his career, he's probably been doing it for about five to six years, he's in his early 30s. And character-wise, we broke him into three parts. There's the public Bruce Wayne, who we modeled slightly after Richard Branson. We wanted to make Bruce Wayne more of an altruistic guy and the company's (Wayne Enterprise) trying to do good. So, that's the public Bruce. The private Bruce is more introspective guy who really only deals with Alfred, and Alfred at the beginning of the series is really the only person who sees that side of Bruce Wayne. He's quiet; he's a little bit obsessive about particular things." Developers expressed that the series would be a departure from previous Batman animated series in their choice to focus on the character's nature as a detective and focusing on his intellect. Crime fighting in the series would put emphasis on procedural aspects of mystery solving. Batman would also be more subject to external threats of injury. "He gets hurt. There are several episodes where he really... gets damaged", emphasized Mitch Watson.
- Alfred Pennyworth - Alfred Pennyworth is a former MI6 agent and Bruce Wayne's butler. Following initial promotion of the series, critics were concerned with what they interpreted to be the re-characterization of Alfred Pennyworth as a fellow crime fighter. Producer Glen Murakami explained that initial promotion posters that had been issued to the press were not originally intended for release, and that they did not give an accurate display of Alfred's role in the show. However, Murakami referred to Alfred's canonical backstory, which cast Alfred as a former MI6 agent, and said that this would be Alfred's portrayal in the show. "I think people are really going to like him", series writer Mitch Watson said. "He's Sean Connery from The Untouchables. The characterization of Alfred would be that of a man who was once in a physical condition on par with Batman, who was now in his 60s and past his prime, but still able to provide advice to Batman and be an ally when necessary. This characterization was pitched to DC Comics, who responded that the company was coincidentally also taking Alfred in that direction. Series developers originally intended to give Alfred a greater role in the series, but Murakami advised that they scale back his activities, over concern that he could outshine Batman.
- Katana/Tatsu Yamashiro - A martial arts swordmaster in hiding from the League of Assassins who was hired to act as Bruce Wayne's bodyguard by her godfather Alfred Pennyworth. She revealed to Alfred that she was undercover in the League of Assassins to steal the Soultaker Sword from them before it can be used for their own evils.
- Lt. James Gordon - A police lieutenant who works at the Gotham City Police Department. He is promoted to commissioner during the second half of the season.
When the series was first unveiled, it was announced that lesser known villains would be introduced. Sam Register explained "We went in deeper into the villain library and pulled out some other villains" and the studio did not want the series to do another "Joker story". The following villains are listed in order of appearance:
- Professor Pyg - Originally depicted as a psychologically deranged and violent member of a criminal organization called the Circus of Strange from Grant Morrison's Batman and Robin comics, Professor Pyg's character is drastically changed and is depicted as an eco-terrorist, thematically inspired by The Wind in the Willows. Acknowledging the violent nature of Professor Pyg and his partner Mister Toad, the creators toned down their depiction to make them less violent than their comic book counterparts. Some of Professor Pyg's eco-terrorism ranges from targeting businesspeople who did shady deals involving land developing on a swamp to capturing models and fashion designers that use parts of different animals (like bird feathers and animal pelts).
- Mister Toad - Professor Pyg's henchman, whose depiction was also toned down. Here, Toad fights with a wooden cane that conceals a flamethrower and he has a sonic croak.
- Magpie/Margaret Sorrow - Magpie, a character created in the 1980s, underwent a massive redesign to give her a more contemporary appearance. She can grow poisonous claws for nails and is unable to feel pain after an experiment to that would purge Margaret Sorrow's kleptomaniac tendencies in return for a reduced sentence at Blackgate Penitentiary. However, her memories altered with the new identity of "Cassie", Margaret's darker aspects manifested as a second personality called Magpie. Magpie also harbors a romantic obsession with Batman; which the hero does not reciprocate.
- Anarky - A mysterious figure who self-identifies as a madman and champion of chaos in opposition to Batman, who he sees as the champion of law and order. Whereas the original character is an anti-villain thematically based on socio-political philosophy, producers announced that Anarky was chosen to function as the main villain, and was re-characterized as a criminal mastermind who would challenge Batman through complex schemes and machinations.
- Junkyard Dog and Daedalus - Two minor criminals from the Arkham Asylum: Living Hell storyline, Junkyard Dog was obsessed with trash while Daedalus Boch (who was known in the comics as Doodlebug) used blood in his paintings. In this show, Junkyard Dog and Daedalus are depicted as street vandals who are constantly stopped by Batman and until Anarky uses them as pawns in his first plot.
- League of Assassins - A secret international criminal organization consisting of highly-trained warriors. Katana once infiltrated their ranks in order to steal the Soultaker Sword from them. The plots of the League of Assassins have included reclaiming the Soultaker Sword from Katana and plotted to take control of the Ion Cortex.
- Ra's al Ghul - Leader and founder of the League of Assassins. His body was first revealed to be in suspended animation. He was revived from suspended animation by Lady Shiva.
- Lady Shiva - An elite member of the League of Assassins.
- Cypher - A half-human half-computer agent of the League of Assassins.
- Silver Monkey - An elite agent of the League of Assassins that wears a silver monkey mask. He tried to take the Soultaker Sword for himself until Lady Shiva caught on to his plan.
- Tobias Whale - Tobias Whale is an African American albino crime boss.
- Phosphorus Rex - Milo Match is Tobias Whale's lawyer. As Phosphorus Rex, he is Tobias Whale's chief enforcer who can perform fire attacks. The original comic book counterpart to this character is a member of the Circus of Strange (the same criminal organization that Professor Pyg and Mister Toad are members of) and his real name was unrevealed.
- Humpty Dumpty/Humphrey Dumpler - Humphrey Dumpler is a former mob accountant who developed a childlike personality and became obsessed with the nursery rhyme where he committed crimes using toys.
- Barbara Gordon - The daughter of James Gordon who has a continuing interest in Batman.
- Dr. Jason Burr - A scientist who worked on the Ion Cortex which was targeted by the League of Assassins.
- Simon Stagg - A businessman who is the CEO of Stagg Enterprise. He is also responsible for turning Rex Mason into Metamorpho.
- Bethanie Ravencroft - A psychologist who formerly experimented on rehabilitating criminals including Magpie. Bethanie has repeatedly tried to get Bruce Wayne to join the Argus Club. She was later revealed to be in league with Silver Monkey and ends up having her soul drained by Lady Shiva using the Soultaker Sword even though she claimed that she wasn't working against her.
Role in Beware the BatmanEdit
Crime-fighting vigilante Batman teams up with swordmistress Katana and his ex-secret agent butler Alfred Pennyworth to face the criminal underworld led by Anarky, Magpie, Ra's al Ghul, Tobias Whale, Professor Pyg, Mister Toad, Lady Shiva, Key and Humpty Dumpty. Anarky, in particular, will be the main villain in the series.
After Batman: The Brave and the Bold ended its run in November 2011, a new series went under production, so that Batman could return to a more "serious tone". With Batman receiving a new sidekick, Outsiders member Katana, Register even commented that "Katana is gonna be his new Robin, but not necessarily." The series is computer-animated in a CGI format, similar to Green Lantern: The Animated Series's animation style; the CGI has been described as "cutting edge".
In the wake of the 2012 Aurora shooting, which occurred during a screening of the Batman movie The Dark Knight Rises, it was announced that the series content would be altered in order to make the firearms in the show look less realistic.
In promoting the series, Warner Bros. debuted a trailer a month prior to the series premier, featuring action sequences from the first three episodes, highlighting Batman, Professor Pyg and Toad, Magpie, and Anarky. On July 2, the opening title sequence was released to Entertainment Weekly, a week prior to the series premier. It depicts Batman, Alfred, Katana, and the Batmobile, in a stylized red background with stark red lighting effects, contrasted by dark shadows and silhouettes. The show's opening theme is composed by the indie rock band the Dum Dum Girls.
The requirements of CGI at times necessitated that inanimate objects such as ships and city streets were built, rather than simply drawn, creating a need for the completion of entire set designs. This would increase production times, but later allow the developers to bring cinematic qualities of lighting and camera play to the series. Batman's utility belt was fully recreated from cardboard and worn by producer Glen Murakami's design team, to test how the belt would function while in motion. "If you really built it, it would work", said Watson. Batarangs were designed to flip-open and function when retrieved from the belt. The Batmobile was also subjected to scrutiny, as a "certain amount of weight" was added to it as it moved on city streets, out of concern that it would be unbelievable otherwise.
Initial promotional art for the series depicted Alfred armed with guns and fighting alongside Batman. This upset fans of the Batman mythos, prompting a response from producers. Initial announcements for the series were accompanied with promotional art that was not intended for public release, depicting Alfred as a gun-toting butler. This upset fans of the Batman mythos, who argued against Alfred's participation in Batman's exploits, and his use of deadly firearms as against the Batman's principles. In response to fan criticism, producer Glen Murakami acknowledged that this poster image was an inaccurate representation of what the character's actual role would be. He elaborated that the poster was intended to be an action-themed shot that displayed the cast of characters, but that Alfred's portrayal had been misleadingly made more exciting. "You can't have an action pose of a guy standing with a tray", joked Murakami. Mitch Watson also noted the problem presented if Alfred were fighting alongside Batman, as he would be recognized as Bruce Wayne's butler, and thus reveal the identity of Batman. Regardless, both producers insisted that Alfred would remain true to his intended characterization as a mentor to Batman, who could potentially help Batman if a story plot called for it.
Scott Thill, technology and pop culture commentator for Wired magazine, praised the initial choice to debut Anarky on television, claiming the character was relevant following the rise of the occupy movement and the hacktivist activities of Anonymous.