Michael Moccio ’16 / Emertainment Monthly Editor
Although the cancellations of Young Justice and Green Lantern are still fresh in our minds, the time has come to turn to the new show on DC Nation: Beware the Batman. The first thought that came to mind after seeing Hunted was that this show is indeed a Batman show, and one that’s presented the Dark Knight in such a way that echoes the classic detective and modernizes him for a current audience.
Immediately, we’re thrown into this world of CGI animatics. Although the buildings and the inanimate objects look rather well-done, the disproportionate bodies, and the fighting make the overall experience lackluster. The advantages given by CGI are not enough to detract from the odd looking, and seemingly shoddy animation. The producers, however, have said that CGI gives them more input on the animation, but I feel like 2D animation would have served their purpose better.
The storyline is well thought out, and really highlights Batman’s detective nature. It was nice to see Bruce connecting the dots with the rhyme and the list of names, using the technology to find out that Michael Holt was the next target. This is something I feel has been lost in previous incarnations, and it was a breath of fresh air to see it employed in the series. Additionally, Bruce’s characterization fits very well—by having genuine concern for Alfred’s safety, Bruce gives himself credibility, as that’s how the source material would portray Bruce. His openness and emotions work because Bruce hasn’t closed himself off completely yet. It will be interesting to see how his character progresses in the overall arc of the series.
However, besides Bruce and Batman, the characterization falls short for me in most of the other characters. Alfred rebranded as an ex-MI6 agent is something that’s still up in the air for me. Although he still has genuine concern for Bruce’s safety, and still possess his devotion to Bruce and his family, Alfred just didn’t seem like Alfred. He was more concerned about Batman and Bruce being safe while Batman, instead of urging Bruce to become more engaged in the company and his “real” life. Because the episode focused more on Batman than Bruce Wayne, it’s impossible to tell how Alfred feels about how Bruce approaches his day-to-day life.
Professor Pyg and Toad are recast as animal lovers and lash out against the investors that sold a nature preserve. Pyg was much more menacing and deadly in the comics, and because the episode failed to show why Pyg was an animal lover, and why he felt so strongly about his cause, he seemed like a cheap knockoff of Poison Ivy, albeit animals instead of plants.
Katana only had a minor role in this episode, but she has the changes I like least of all. According to Cartoon Network, Katana is a “[f]ormer CIA, she is also Alfred’s goddaughter, and the child of his late MI-6 partner.” Changing Katana’s backstory doesn’t really make sense to me, and it feels like the writers took the lazy way out in introducing and incorporating the character to the series. This is reminiscent of how Barbara Gordon was introduced as Alfred’s niece in Batman and Robin, and that incarnation didn’t succeed. I don’t have much hope for Katana at the moment, but hopefully she’ll prove me wrong.
Unlike his previous incarnations in Justice League, Brave and the Bold and Young Justice, this series shows Batman as he truly is: a master of martial arts, innovative with his use of gadgets, and using fear and distraction to his advantage. The first fight scene has nearly everything right about being Batman: throwing the batarang and then speaking without giving away his position. This made the thug afraid and waste his ammo. Batman knows how many shots are left, by saying “Two shots left. Make them count.” This quip is more reminiscent of a Batman starting out, instead of the gruff, seasoned Batman, and since the show is aiming to portray a greener Batman.
The fight scene, only lasting about forty seconds, highlights Bruce’s ability to assess a situation and react accordingly. Lying to the thug about his best option is classic misdirection, and a ploy that Batman would most definitely use. When the bigger thug comes out, we don’t see Bruce blindly rushing in. He uses his gadgets to gain the upper hand and smartly defeats him with hard strikes with elbows and knees.
Even when fighting Professor Pyg and Toad, Batman showed capability and ingenuity: using his grapple to stop Toad, and closing the door to contain the blast. Even more impressive is the show’s ability to showcase one of the most important aspects of Batman: his use of his surroundings. When fighting Pyg, Batman doesn’t disarm him immediately; he uses his surroundings to his advantage by having Pyg slam into pipes to create a smokescreen, and uses Pyg’s momentum to trap his weapon in the ground. There’s a clear thought process to Batman’s fighting that’s been lost in previous incarnations, so it’s nice to see it in Beware the Batman.
Overally, although the episode had its strong points, it really didn’t induce any feelings of grandeur. I wasn’t excited when I watched the episode, like I was always excited with Young Justice. I thought it was nice and I really enjoyed seeing Batman fight like Batman, but there was something missing at its core. Hopefully, that something will show up soon, but for the moment: Cartoon Network, you have my attention. Let’s see what you can do with it.