Episode 1 & 2: “Rebirth”
Daniel: Man, what a way to start out a TV show. We literally open with Batman, who had kicked the crap out of everyone from Bane to the Ventriloquist, getting beaten up by…some guys. It really nails home how desperate Batman is when he aims the gun at that crook. Like, it’s definitely telling of his age, but he’s gotta be thinking “Jeez, I went from regularly taking down a clay man that could transform into anything in the world to this.”
Ted: Bruce is also there to save the kidnapped Bunny Vreeland, adult daughter of socialite Veronica Vreeland, longtime friend and occasional love interest of Bruce Wayne’s during ‘Batman: The Animated Series’, and an obvious visual reminder of generational progression in the animated Gotham.
Bruce’s choice to compromise his morals and use the gun is a clear sign of desperation, made only after getting bashed around by a crowbar, symbolically the same weapon infamously used by the Joker to murder Jason Todd in “A Death in the Family” though that story is not technically canon to the DCAU, but a defining moment in Batman’s character nevertheless.
Daniel: Ooooh, yeah. I never noticed that crowbar thing. So, let’s get down to business: Do you like Terry McGinnis? I’ve read people criticize him for being too Peter Parker-ish, but I don’t get that at all. Terry feels angrier. He might not have the two decades of grief and resentment that Bruce Wayne has when he started his Bat career, but Terry has that “I might justice punch someone. I might not.” feel that all of the best Gotham crime fighters have.
Terry doesn’t come across as Peter Parker-ish to me in personality, which is to say he doesn’t come across as a nerd, especially in the first episode where his main scene at Hamilton Hill High School– named after Hamilton Hill, the mayor of Gotham City during ‘Batman: The Animated Series’– involves Terry wrestling Nelson Nash, the sporty, preppy, popular kid at his school, only losing the match after Terry throws the first punch.
I see more similarities to Spider-Man in the actual design of the Batman Beyond bat-suit. The red underarm wings on Terry’s bat-suit are very reminiscent of Peter Parker / Spider-Man’s original underarm webs from his original appearance in Amazing Fantasy #15.
I found myself focused particularly on Mr. Fixx, the right-hand man to Derek Powers. Fixx had such villain potential with his dead eye and brass knuckle shocker weapons. He also set himself up to be a real thorn in Terry McGinnis’ side by being the murderer of Terry’s father Warren McGinnis, but rather than reaching the potential of such bodyguard villains like James Bond’s Oddjob or Jaws, Mr. Fixx received an early death at the bottom of Gotham river.
Do you think Mr. Fixx had more potential as a returning villain? What happened to the airplane he crashed? Did the GCPD have to fish it out of the river at Wayne Powers’ expense? Was anyone held liable at all?
From the intro showing the moment Batman hung up the cowl to the high contrast, neon saturated theme song animated by the legendary Darwyn Cooke, Batman Beyond sets up a fascinating, new status quo in an unfamiliar Gotham City. Gotham City still has its heroes and villains, but also visibly similar Stormtrooper police who are skilled enough to sneak up on vigilantes spying from balconies, telekinetic bulldozer claw suits, flying cars and non-flying cars for drivers of either preference, a teenaged, motorcycle gang group of Jokerz inspired by the classic villain’s joy of anarchy, and some slaggin’ shway new slang. When Bruce Wayne extends his hand in the final scene and welcomes Terry to his world, he is promising an era of unexplored potential in this recognizable universe set just beyond the familiar.