Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Animated Series' Movie References

The Batman: Animated Series, or more so its first season, was an extension of Tim Burton's movies. Not a continuation, but an extension. Being major fans of the Tim Burton movies, the creators Bruce Timm and Eric Radomski wanted the series to continue in the same style, look, feel and with some of the same characters.

Eric Radomski: The previous incarnations of Batman I'd seen growing up, the Filmation animated version, that series they did with Adam West, they were all just a bunch of goofs. They were dopey versions of a character that could be really strong and dramatic, and when I saw Tim Burton's movie, I thought that was a good way of looking at this character.(...) Literally the first piece that I did [on BTAS] was lights of a city reflected on a wet pavement, and that was also inspired by the drama of Burton's movie. (Animation World Magazine)

Bruce Timm: Thank God for the Tim Burton movie because it was so extremely darker than anybody had seen Batman before in any kind of mass media (Wizard 2006)
But we were actually quite lucky, when that show was being developed we were coming off the heels of the Tim Burton Batman films, which were very dark in tone. (TMT 2010)

Paul Dini: When Tim Burton's Batman came out, that was the way to go (
Nicholson looks phenomenal and scary and the suit looks good and the darkness  and the world I was thinking like wow, this rocks (Anthology)
Another thing that transitioned form the Tim Burton's movies was Batman's character - as in the movie, he's someone who stays in the shadows and keeps to himself

Paul Dini: The thought process on Batman was great, here he's a character that doesn't talk much, which is as it should be. I thought the more you can tell stories like that, the better the show's gonna be(Batman Legacy Continues 2004)

Also, Kevin Conroy used the same technique for his Batman voice as Michael Keaton did - he lowered his tone and half whispered

The shape of Batman's eyes is also the same as the shape of the cut out eyeholes in Batman's mask in Batman Returns 

Shirley Walker, who worked with Danny Elfman conducting his orchestrations, was hired to provide the score for the series with the same style, and even the main theme from Tim Burton's movies was adapted.

Bruce Timm: Everybody was very impressed with the music that Danny Elfman had done for the first Batman movie and we thought that was definitely the right direction to go, that kind of retro noir mysterioso kind of score(Batman Legacy Continues 2004)

On the audio commentary for the On Leather Wings episode, Bruce Timm and Eric Radomski said that they designed the series by closely emulating the Tim Burton films' "otherworldly timelessness,". They followed the same design of the city presented in Batman Returns, Art Deco, or as they renamed it, Dark Deco and expressionistic shadowing (often painting backgrounds on black cels in order to give the feeling of omnipresent night). As in Burton's movies, there's a feel of the 1930's Industrial America with people wearing hats and driving old cars, mixed with modern and futuristic technology like computers

Alan Burnett (producer) : We called it Dark Deco. Dark Deco world with some computer technology going for it. It's just other dimension of the contemporary world (Batman Legacy Continues 2004)

Paul Dini: In my mind it was sort of like what if the 1939 world's fair had gone on another 60 years or so, and the cool sense of design  and stylishness from the Art Deco years was in operation well until the 90's. That way you could have kind of a rounded look to the cars and a stylish look to the buildings, you could have television and computers but everything would have a black and white screen (Batman Legacy Continues 2004)

The art deco design of the Batmobile mirrored the movie Batmobile's look with the shields up

It also has the same functions and gadgets

The look of the Batcave is very similar - it's basically a console and sporadic equipment scattered throughout a gigantic cave

The Batwing, as in the movie, is of a shape of the stylized bat, with a small cabin located on top. It was also the movie which originated the term Batwing

The Grappling Gun originated in Tim Burton's movies, and was since adopted into comic books and subsequent Batman movies, however the first one to adopt it was The Animated Series

Paul Dini: When we did the animated series, we were inspired in part by the tech employed in the movie ( 2010)

Jerry Ordway:  It was from the movie. When I did the movie comic, I was amazed at the various gadgets the prop department created for the film (...) At that time, I also understood that DC was not allowed to use any elements of that specific costume design in the comics, as it was property of the film company. I know they relaxed that rule over the last twenty years, though. ( 2010)

Scott Beatty (The DC Comics Encyclopedia, The Batman Handbook: The Ultimate Training Manual): The Grapnel Gun debuted in the 1989 film, but it didn't really catch on in the comics and become a regular feature in the Bat-Arsenal until it was popularized and used to great effect in Batman: The Animated Series, which debuted just a few years later ( 2010)

Throughout his entire history, his outfit consisted of green shirt and orange vest. 

The 1989 movie was the first instance where the colors were reversed

The Animated Series followed. It also seems like the frozen laugh lines are present in the early episodes

Also, the 1989 movie originated the idea of Joker's pre-Joker persona being a mobster.

The 1989 movie was also the first one to introduce Joker's real name, Jack Napier, which appeared in two episodes, "Dreams In Darkness" and “Joker’s Wild”
Same sunglasses

The Penguin is a mirror image of Danny DeVito's version of the character. Also, Batman Returns successfully influenced and changed the color of Penguin's outfit from blue to black in all mediums.

The depiction of Penguin (and Catwoman) however, was studio's decision

Just like in Batman Returns, Selina Kyle is blonde. However, it's worth noting that she occasional;y did appear as blonde in the Golden Age

Just like in the 1989 movie, Harvey Dent/Two Face doesn't appear to be a white Caucasian, but also isn't an African American either. He seems to be of a mixed race, although this is purely a speculation as one must have in mind that his appearance was based on Ralph Bellamy


In the beginning of the episode called "Off Balance", Batman meets an informant  named Twitch on the tower of the statue of Liberty. The informant has black hair, a long face, and has been confirmed by the producers to be "Tim Burton"


The punch

The sky

The Cathedral Gargoyles

Gotham Globe

"Souvenir" from Catwoman stuck in the costume
If you noticed any other nods and references to the movies in Batman: The Animated Series, feel free to share them in the Comments


  1. Warner Bros forced Bruce Timm to design Penguin and Catwoman after the Returns designs for BTAS. When TNBA rolled around they got rid of them.

  2. Man, 1992 when there were only the 2 dark Burton movies and The Animated Series, those were the times

  3. I dont know abut WB enforcing Timmm to do Returns' Penguin. It makes no sense on any level whatsoever. It was the movie's Penguin that they werent thrilled about from the beginning thinking that he's too much, it's Penguin that scared off merchandisers and Kenner even refused to make his likeness, and it was Penguin who scared children and pissed off TV Moms. Why on Earth would they want the cartoon to look like this Penguin that caused them so many controversies and protests from parents and merchandisers? As for Catwoman, I dont buy any enforcing either because she looked much more like the movie version in New Adventures

  4. It's in this book about WB forcing Timm to use the Returns designs:

  5. Thanks, Ill look into it. Its also worth noting that Bruce Timm has gone on record saying that Pfeiffer was perfectly cast as Catwoman. And alo, the reason why TNBA moved away from Burton's movies because studio wanted it. Schumacher's Forever was doing great in box offices and they wanted a lighter, more colorful Batman and wanted to disconnect from Burton's dark movies. Oh, how the times and perception have changed.
    Heres the full quote from Dini for those interested :
    "The problem Kids' WB, and to a degree, the Warner lot, has is that they're very in love with whatever comes out, movie-wise. When Tim Burton's Batman came out, that was the way to go. Now Joel Schumacher's Batman is out there, and people are flocking to the movies, so they"re saying, "Can you lighten up the show a little bit? Can you have more fun with it?" So that's what we were charged with doing, and that's what we've done (...) We've also given it a little more of a kid-friendly look.We're going for more big set pieces, more of a Dick Sprang-type look to some of the action and set pieces" -

  6. This Burton reference in "Off Balance" (Vol. 2 episode #22) made me rewatch it. Now, this may be a coincidence, but the climax takes place in a cathedral belltower. Of course the villain looks more like a G.I.Joe/Cobra reject than a Batman villain, but this whole belltower sequence reminded me a bit of B'89.

  7. Also, don't forget the Joel Schumacher reference in Vol. 4 episode # 19 "Legends of the Dark Knight". About 9 minutes into the episode, a group of kids discuss Batman and a longhaired kid named "Joel" joins the discussion, saying how he loves the "tight rubber armour" and the "flash car that drives up walls". "Joel" stands beneath a store sign that reads "Shoemaker". Anvilicious!

  8. "Joel Schoemaker" LOL

  9. Ok GothamStreets first off, Harvey Dent in TAS was never said to be of mixed race in the cartoon or based on Billy Dee. The creators never said he was. I know he's visually based off a white man, Ralph Bellamy.

  10. People are even saying that he looks like Obama -

  11. Oh brother, i see no facial resemblance between Obama and Harvey Dent.

  12. I do in that second picture with the girl at the table. Just take off few pounds and its Obama!

  13. And i was Right again, according to the great Batman Animated coffee table book, Bruce Timm physically based Harvey Dent on the actor Ralph Bellamy.

  14. I know he did, but they might have mix him a little. His appearance is strongly suggesting it. Either way I updated it just to make clear that the whole mix race thing isnt a fact but a suggestion and theory instead

  15. I just wanted to clear it up GothamStreets

  16. I know, and that's great, I want fans to contribute

  17. How about in the Nolan movies? I know it's a bit of a stretch, but it's somewhat there, maybe coincidental:

    1) Scarecrow is gassed with his "own medicine" on his first BTAS appearance the same way he is in BATMAN BEGINS; Crane hallucinates and sees Batman as a gigantic creature in both the episode as well as in the movie;

    2) This one is a bit of a stretch, but in the episodes 'Two-Face' parts one and two, Batman rides his bike :p

    3) Renee Montoya and Harvey Bullock as Detectives Ramirez and Stephens in TDK;

    I'm sure there are others/

  18. I agree, there are several instances in BTAS which Im almost sure were seen and lifted for Nolan's movies (and f course, the same happened with Schumacher's which also adapted several stories and ideas to the movies)

  19. Penguin taking over the Batmobile was an idea later used in the episode "The Mechanic" of Batman: The Animated Series.

  20. And here's another reference for you.

    Like all other characters, Catwoman would have a new design during The New Batman Adventures. Her new in-costume animated appearance also changed when the show's animation style did, becoming more like the Michelle Pfeiffer version, with a black costume, slimmer build, and white face makeup (despite her hair now black). Details on her change are explored in Batman: Gotham Adventures #4.

  21. Thanks. I should have note that Catwoman was very much like the Returns version in The New Adventures. As for The Mechanic, I need to see this one since it supposedly also has Penguin using the Duck vehicle

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  23. I definitely think that they got influence from the 89 film for the animated series, but I don't think RETURNS really did. I mean yes they made Penguin deformed (not to the same extent as RETURNS though) and Catwoman blonde, both act more like their classic counterparts than their RETURNS ones, and it was the studio that pushed those things to have it tie in with BATMAN RETURNS.

    That being said I do believe they got a lot of influence from BATMAN 89 in tone, feel, and style. RETURNS' is different from both of theirs. Whatever the case, cool article.

    (And for the record BATMAN FOREVER is underrated)

  24. In the chapter "Nothing to Fear", a group of people affected with Scarecrow's gas attack Batman as they see him like a giant bat. Batman uses his grappling gun to escape. The same happens in "Batman Begins".

  25. The Batmobile in the New Adventures sort of resembles the one in Batman and Robin.

  26. In the episode Two Face Part One , Harvey asks to see a mirror after taking of his bandages to reveal his new face. This was a blatant reference to the Batman (1989) Joker scene when he first removes his bandage.

  27. This might be late, but I know of a two more references.

    1.BTAS Joker's outfit is basically from the 1989 film minus the turquoise waistcoat and plaid pants, specifically in the museum scene where Joker wears a tie that is identical to the one Joker wears in the animated series. Joker also wears a hat and trench coat throughout the animated series like he does in the 89 movie.

    2. I don't know if Mask of the Phantasm counts, but the scene where Joker visits Arthur Reeves is very similar to the scene in the 89 film where Joker confronts Carl Grissom. The way Arthur/Grissom's office is set up, how Joker enters, how Joker is dressed, and how Joker confronts someone from his mobster past.

  28. I am pretty much convinced that Bruce Wayne's look in the animated series is based on Michael Keaton, especially the cheek lines and the eyebrows.