Batman: The Animated Series: The 5 Best Episodes - VRGyani News and Media

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Sunday, August 8, 2021

Batman: The Animated Series: The 5 Best Episodes

This article is far from the first, or the last, that will tell you Batman: The Animated Series is one of the greatest Batman depictions ever made, regardless of the format. But that’s the beauty of the series in and of itself: It’s everlasting. No matter how many times one revisits the iconic '90s cartoon, its mature themes and writing, gorgeous design, and faithfulness to the legend of the Dark Knight remain as astounding as they were over a quarter-century ago.

With that in mind — whether you’re looking to dive into the 109 episodes for the first time or are simply, once again, craving a rewatch — here are five definitive episodes of Batman: The Animated Series.

“Harley and Ivy” (Season 1, Episode 47)

While Marvel Studios is currently rolling out their own animated What If…? show, Batman: The Animated Series (sort of) took that approach almost 20 years ago with its “Harley and Ivy” episode, which essentially asked the question: what if Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy were Thelma and Louise? The result is a story of female empowerment that would come to definite the Harley Quinn character for years to come, all the way up to Margot Robbie’s latest portrayal in James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad.

The relationship born out of this episode has gone on to become one of the defining duos in the Batman universe, as the dynamic between Ive and Harl provides the heart and soul of HBO Max’s critically beloved series Harley Quinn.

“Almost Got ‘Im” (Season 1, Episode 35)

Here’s what makes Batman arguably the world’s most popular superhero: more so than any of his contemporaries, Batman is a human being. He’s made of flesh and blood — neither a radioactive spider nor Earth’s yellow sun imbued him with god-like powers. He’s lost before and he’ll lose again, and therein lies the conceit of the classic “Almost Got ‘Im.”

Featuring five of Batman’s fiercest foes — Poison Ivy, Killer Croc, Penguin, Two-Face, Joker — circled around a poker table, “Almost Got ‘Im” sees this quintet of iconic Gotham City rogues trading war stories of the time they, well, almost got The Batman. More so than the macro thrill of seeing various Bat-villains huddled around a table, “Almost Got ‘Im” excels in the micro representation of Batman’s defining attribute.

If there’s any character trait that defines Bruce Wayne, it’s his resilience in the face of dire circumstances and “Almost Got ‘Im” delivers heapings of that mythos by essentially rolling out a highlight reel of Batman, frankly, getting his ass kicked. But true to the lore of the Batman, despite being inches from defeat — whether it be through his own sheer force of will or a helping hand from Catwoman — he prevails nonetheless.

“Growing Pains” (Season 3, Episode 8)

Put simply — especially when it comes to the emotional equanimity of a child watching this tale — “Growing Pains” is perhaps Batman: The Animated Series’ most heartbreaking episode.

As much of The New Batman Adventures did, “Growing Pains” focuses on a member of the Bat family other than the Dark Knight himself: Robin.

Mixing elements of both horror and romance, “Growing Pains” tells the story of a young girl named Annie who is seemingly being abused by her father. Robin, as is his nature, helps Annie and begins spending time with her, eventually developing feelings for her.

That all comes crashing down, though, when it’s later revealed that Annie is nothing more than a separate, sentiment piece of Clayface. In fact, the dread induced by the realization of such is one of the series’ darker moments.

Despite her intrinsic and unbreakable connection to Clayface, Annie ultimately saves Robin by sacrificing herself in the process. A story of both young love and heartbreak, “Growing Pains” ranks among Batman: The Animated Series’ most affecting thirty minutes of storytelling.

More devastating than Robin’s heartbreak, though, is the final lesson from Batman: “Sometimes… there are no happy endings.” That’s a hell of a lesson for a child to learn, and a hell of a way to teach it to them.

RELATED: The Most Iconic Batman Moments In The 'Dark Knight' Trilogy

“Over The Edge” (Season 3, Episode 11)

Heavy is the head that wears the cowl. Or something like that.

The price of being the Dark Knight is a great one, and no episode of Batman: The Animated Series better encapsulates that notion than “Over the Edge.”

Suffering from the effects of Scarecrow’s fear toxin, Barbara Gordon — a.k.a Batgirl — experiences a nightmare that sees her father Commissioner Jim Gordon turn on the Caped Crusader and the rest of the Bat-family following her death.

While the dream element of it all is obvious throughout, the drama remains impactful all of the same, as the combination of Barbara’s death and Jim’s newfound disdain for Batman is a true nightmare scenario for any fan of the character.

“Heart of Ice” (Season 1, Episode 4)

Singing the praises of “Heart of Ice” is akin to admiring a sunny summer Saturday: who doesn’t love them?

To this day, close to 30 years after Batman: The Animated Series first premiered, the series is still widely hailed for its maturity, with “Heart of Ice” largely providing the center of gravity to that discussion.

When it comes to superhero stories, particularly when its children consuming them, the nature of heroism and villainy is quite binary: you’re either good or you’re evil. “Heart of Ice” sets out to subvert that notion as it tells the tragic story of Mr. Freeze, a broken and discarded man — tossed aside in the midst of a project that was keeping his beloved wife alive — seeking to save the love of his life at any cost.

Two sides of the same coin, both Bruce Wayne and Victor Fries are men seeking vengeance, although that desire manifests itself in opposite ways: Batman fights evils to avenge the death of his parents, while Mr. Freeze embraces it to seek revenge on those who wronged him. The duality of those two driving forces intertwine in what is not only a genuinely beautiful episode of the series, but as a story in any medium.

“Heart of Ice” is so popular, in fact, that in the wake of 2019’s Joker, fans were calling for Warner Bros. to take a stab at Mr. Freeze’s origin story with an adaptation of the famed BTAS chapter.

Bonus: The Batman Superman Movie: World's Finest (TV Movie / Superman: The Animated Series — Season 2, Episode 16, 17, & 18)

Okay, okay... while The Batman Superman Movie: World's Finest is *technically* a Superman: The Animated Series arc, the story exists within the Dini-verse and the episodes were repackaged into an hour-long film with Batman’s name at the front. Ipso facto, it finds itself on this list.

We didn’t always live in this world — you know, the one with seemingly never-ending superhero movies, many of which feature team-ups. Back in the 90s when The Batman Superman Movie: World's Finest, the Dark Knight was at something of a cultural low point due to the neon-soaked farce that was Batman & Robin. Superman, on the other hand, hadn’t featured in theaters since 1987’s Superman IV: The Quest for Peace. And Bryan Singer’s groundbreaking X-Men was still a few years away. If you wanted superhero team-ups, animation was where to find them, and The Batman Superman Movie is up there with the best of them.

What this hour-long arc does best is illustrate — whether it be in the face of a sadistic clown like Joker or a near-immortal like Kal-El — that Batman is always capable of conquering the challenge ahead of him, an idea best represented when Joker snaps on Lex Luthor for suggesting that Batman is a “mere” mortal.”

Despite being on Superman’s home turf, Batman bests him during their first confrontation with merely a shard of Kryptonite, discovers his secret Clark Kent identity, and quite literally steals his girl, as he spends his time in Metropolis wooing Lois Lane.

Bruce Wayne charms and outwits at every turn, Batman classically out-strategizes his enemies — both good and evil — en route to victory. That is the definitive Batman legend.

KEEP READING: Why 'Batman: Under The Red Hood' Is a Perfect Entry Point for DC's Animated Movies



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