How does someone introduce “the next Batman?” Maybe make one of the many Robins take up the mantle. Maybe you introduce a character related to one of the current main cast members. Well, if you are the creators of the critically acclaimed “Batman: The Animated Series,” you do none of that and introduce a completely new character with no relation to current continuity, which is the backbone of their follow up series, “Batman Beyond.”
In the not-so-distant year of 2039, Terry Mcginnis finds himself on the run from the notorious Jokers, a gang terrorizing Neo Gotham. He has a chance to encounter a grizzled and elderly Bruce Wayne. After finding a bat trapped in the grandfather clock of Wayne Manor, Terry accidentally stumbles into the Batcave. Coming home to find his dad murdered at the hands of who he thinks are the goons he riled up, Terry blames himself and rushes back to the manor and suits up as Batman.
This new origin kicks off a Batman of the future; one with under-arm wings, rocket thrusters in his boots, a GUI in his cowl and a ton more gadgets and gizmos the original Batman never got the chance to fully utilize. Throughout his adventures fighting villains new and old, Terry is guided by Bruce who teaches him how to be an effective not-so-caped crusader.
Terry feels more like a hybrid between Batman and Spider-Man. He is a quippy, acrobatic teenage hero who finds it hard to balance his superhero and personal life. On the other side of the coin, he uses advanced technology, has no superpowers and does more than his fair share of detective work and intimidating criminals. This new, fresher take on Batman keeps the story from running stale.
Terry is wonderfully voiced by Will Friedel. Friedel gives Terry this overconfident yet earnest demeanor that makes him hard not to like. Taunting criminals and bullies alike but being incredibly honest and genuine with the people he cares about. He is a model younger protagonist and Friedel puts his all into voicing him. He also puts his all into voicing Batman. His Bat has a similarly deep voice to that of Bruce; however, where Bruce is hardened yet calm, Terry sounds as if he has a smoldering rage waiting to burst out of the cowl at any moment should the wrong criminal cross him.
Speaking of Bruce, his voice actor from “Batman: The Animated Series,” Kevin Conroy, reprises his role. Conroy, to many, is the definitive voice of Batman and Bruce Wayne. Having voiced him for nearly 25 years, he grew to be the Bat of a whole generation. As an elderly Bruce Wayne, he gets to flex a new muscle as an actor. Being jaded from the years he put into the mission, Bruce seems hardened yet hollow when we first meet him. However, as he takes Terry under his wing (or cape) he grows to be slightly softer and more open again. Taking a back seat and helping from the Batcomputer, we don’t see Bruce in every episode as this really is Terry’s show.
What is Batman without his rogue’s gallery? This show had a whole pantheon of classic Batman villains they could pull from. There was only one problem. By 2039, almost all of the old Arkham inmates have bitten the dust. The creative team had a new task at hand in creating a new pantheon of madmen and scorned citizens that the new Batman would need to either save or put away.
The main background antagonist of the season being Derek Powers, a Norman Osborn type character. He is a madman who also plays CEO of Wayne Powers. Also popping up are new villains like sound master Shriek or the head of hypnosis Spellbinder. All new villains with completely original backstories put Terry’s crime-fighting skills to the test.
Creating a proper successor to the world’s greatest detective was no easy task, but Bruce Timm, Paul Dini and the rest of the BTAS team pulled out all the stops for “Batman Beyond.” Each villain feels fresh and menacing, Terry and his friends feel like real people, and all of Batman’s various adventures are fast paced and engaging. Whether he’s cracking down on criminals or just trying to make a date, Terry Mcginnis feels like a worthy heir to the cowl. This first season following him sees him transform from a young punk to a fledgling superhero.