The final entry covering the ten best episodes to come out of the DCAU animated series, we conclude with Batman Beyond. After creators Bruce Timm and Paul Dini created the incredible Batman The Animated Series and Superman The Animated Series, Warner Brothers came to them and asked them to create a series focused on a kid version of Batman. What we got, couldn’t have been a more ingenious way to give WB what they wanted and still pick up where The New Batman Adventures left off. Introducing viewers to a grumpy old Bruce Wayne and his teen prodigy Terry McGinnis, we were taken on a ride through the city of Neo Gotham. While the previous Batman series were always considered much darker and more mature oriented, you would think with the creation of a kid Batman show to be more family friendly but you would be wrong. Tackling very mature issues such as the mourning death, teen drug addiction and body modification, Batman Beyond was no lighter take on Batman. And though this might have not been a show made for kids, its influence on DC Comics in general will always be appreciated from its time on the small screen.
Season 1, Episode 1 & 2: Rebirth
The continuation of this epic saga picks up twenty years before our story takes place. An aging Bruce Wayne dawns the cowl in his new Batsuit to find Bunny Vreeland who has been kidnapped and put up for ransom. When Batman intervenes, he begins to lose the fight when he starts to suffer from a heart attack. Forced to use a gun to stop a thug from killing him, Batman breaks his valued rule of never using a gun. Realizing his mistake, he decides to retire his run as Batman. Years later in the future we meet Terry McGinnis, who quickly shows us his dislike for Jokerz when he is being chased by a dozen of them. Coincidentally running into Bruce Wayne at Wayne Manor, the two of them take out the gang. Weakened, Terry helps Bruce inside to rest and take his medications. Terry then finds a bat trapped in a clock, when he tries to help the Bat it opens the entrance to the Batcave. Bruce finds him and kicks him out, but when Terry returns home he finds his father has been murdered. Terry breaks into the Batcave once again and steals the Batsuit to find the people responsible for killing his father. Bruce tries to shut down the batsuit, but sympathizes with Terry for his determination to find his dads killer and lets him use the suit. Terry discovers the person who authorized the killing to be Derek Powers, and in turn leads to the creation of Blight and becomes Terrys first nemesis. The success of the mission impresses Bruce and decides to take Terry in to become the new Batman.
Season 1, Episode 5: Meltdown
The beginning in reoccurring villains from Batman The Animated Series begins with the return of Mr. Freeze. As Derek Powers continues to lose control of his powers, he comes up with the idea to have a body cloned and his subconscious uploaded into the other body. However, the entire procedure seems risky and before conducting it on himself he looks for someone else to conduct the experiment on. Surprisingly, since the last time we saw Victor Fries was in The New Batman Adventures episode Cold Comfort. However, he still remains as only a head encased in glass, which makes him the perfect candidate for the experiment. The transfer is a success and Victor Fries is now inhabiting a new body, one that does not require extreme cold temperatures to survive. He starts an organization for his deceased wife called the Nora Fries Foundation, but his body starts to revert back to his old conditions and becomes uncomfortable to the heat. When Dr. Lake realizes this, she tells Derek Powers who orders her to do a biopsy on Victor despite the risk of killing him. When Dr. Lake traps Victor in a room and cranks up the heat, he manages to escape but at the cost of resurrecting Mr. Freeze once again. His first order of business comes in the form of revenge when he returns to Wayne Powers in his powerful new suit to destroy Derek Powers. Once he arrives, the battle between hot and cold begins and Powers reveals himself to be the super villain Blight. The battle begins to cause the building to come down on them, Batman tries to save Fries but is being denied. Batman has to evacuate before the building comes down on them and leave Fries behind, resulting to his death. Making this episode the final appearance of Mr. Freeze in the DCAU.
Season 1, Episode 9: The Winning Edge
Remember how we mentioned earlier how this show tackled more mature content? This is one of those episodes. During a night out with his girlfriend Dana at a school game, the home team starts to lose. In an effort to change the outcome of the game, one of the players slaps on a patch that gives him increased strength to use an advantage to win. Later that night Batman interrupts a robbery but just when Batman thought this might just be your common criminals, one of them becomes incredibly strong and starts to put up a fight against Terry. Its later revealed that a youth at the school named Mason has been the one committing the robberies to pay for his addiction to a new street drug called “slappers” patches that you can place anywhere on your body and gives the user increased strength. Terry manages to get his hands on some and takes them back to the batcave for Bruce to analyze. Bruce discovers the slappers contain the substance Venom, which is the same drug used by his former foe Bane. Terry travels to Banes estate to find out if the wrestler is back to his criminal ways and where the slappers are being manufactured. When he arrives he discovers Bane is a vegetable, extensive use of venom has caused his body to deteriorate and become useless. Back in Gotham, Batman follows Mason to his supplier who turns out to be Jackson Chappell, an assistant to Bane on his estate. Batman manages to defeat the Venom riddled Chappell by giving him a bit more of his own medicine than the normal person should have. This episode is not only a great conclusion to one of Batmans most formidable foes, but it explores the struggles of teens who get wrapped up in drugs and how it can affect their decisions to commit crimes and put themselves in danger to get their fix.
Season 1, Episode 13: Ascension
The season finale to the season one. Due to Derek Powers ongoing condition that turns him into Blight, much of his life around him seems to also fall apart. The prosthetic skin graft he consistently uses on his body isn’t able to maintain the same use as it did in the past. As it continues to fail so does his place at the head of Wayne-Powers, forcing him to try and make a mends for the people of his company. Powers finally comes clean to his son Paxton Powers about his condition and seeks help and understanding. Later during a board meeting, a man claiming Powers has been contaminating the oceans and killing the resources in it barges is in to make his accusation. This enrages Derek and once again his skin starts to fail to finally reveal himself to the population of his condition and his alter ego, Blight. After the confrontation, Paxton requests the help of Batman to stop his father. This episode remains as one of the most entertaining, as well as one of the most important in Terrys path to being the Batman. The first episode saw the pain Terry was enduring and his pursuit to not just seek revenge, but bring Derek Powers to justice for the murder of his father. Bruce understood this about him and since Bruce was only a child and couldn’t avenge his parents deaths, but could give Terry the power to do what Bruce couldn’t with the persona of Batman. Of course, the same things were done for the previous Robins but they were Robin not Batman. So technically Terry was able to achieve what Bruce never could as Batman, and that is what makes him stand out as Gothams new hero.
Season 2, Episode 2: Earth Mover
This episode managed to not only cover mature themes, but is also one of the scariest in the series. One night while Dana and Terry are studying with their friend Jackie, but she seems scared that someone or something is coming after her. Soon after, Terry discovers someone is outside watching them and begins to peruse the culprit. Terry chases him into a street where the suspect is hit by a car and splattered into mud, Terry takes some of the mud back to Bruce to analyze only to discover it is simply mud and nothing more. Back at Jackies house, her guardian Bill is quickly attempting to leave town with Jackie. Suddenly another figure of a man appears in his hallways that is when Bill starts to apologize and confess the guilt he holds, but the person in the hallway turned out to be Batman. Bill explains to Batman and Jackie the facts of what happened to her father, how they were investigating a mine shaft and while Jackie’s father Tony was inside a toxic canister accidently poured down on Tony. Bill assumed Tony was dead and decided to take in Jackie to make up for his mistake. Later, the house starts to rumble and sink into the ground with them still inside. Jackie is taken to an underground cave to confront her now mutated father, now Batman must find her and save her before she gets hurt and Tony exacts revenge on Bill. Another episode that often begs the question, who is this show for? Containing horror elements as well as its story about betrayal, dishonesty and guilt. This episode still remains to be one of the most controversial for its dark themes and terrifying imagery.
Season 2, Episode 4: Lost Soul
Picking up thirty five years prior to Batman Beyond, the world suffers the loss of a business mogul known as Robert Vance of Vance Enterprises. Although before he met his demise he also discovered a way to upload his memories and subconscious into a computer program, in an effort to watch over his company in the future but was ultimately put to sleep. Back in present day Robert’s grandson Bobby attempts to reboot his grandfather once again after his father suffered a heart attack and the company was placed in Bobby’s hands. When Robert awakens he encourages Bobby to upload him online, Bobby complies and now Robert is loaded with infinite knowledge. Batman investigates a power plant that has been taken over by Vance, fighting through the auto defenses Batman makes his way through the plant and successfully shuts down the power. After the power plant situation, Terry engages robbers of an ATM but begins to lose control of the suit. Vance has taken control of Terry’s suit and forces him into the ocean to drown himself, Bruce quickly shuts down the suit and sends the batmobile to bring Terry back to the cave. After removing the suit, Bruce and Terry agree to not use it until Bruce can reprogram the suit. However, when they leave the Batcave the suit gets up by itself and leaves. Later when Bruce and Terry discover the suit is missing, Terry is determined to retrieve it and bring it back to the cave. Bruce gives him his old utility belt, along with Nightwings mask. Terry now can’t use the power of the suit and rely on hits wits and skills to defeat the super powered Batman Beyond suit.
Season 2, Episode 26: Ace in the Hole
One day while Terry is walking Ace, the hound gets sight of a man and suddenly starts chasing the man wildly. Terry is unable to stop Ace as he rips through his leash and disappears. Later Terry and Bruce come up with a composite drawing of the man’s face and tie it to a man named Ronny Boxer. Boxer has been under the suspicion of illegal dog fighting and gambling, and is known as a dog fight promoter. Terry goes undercover as a kid with a vicious dog that he would like to get involved in the fights. Meanwhile, during a flashback Aces story is told. Raised by Boxer through torture and at times cruel activity, Boxer raised Ace to be a fighting dog. In Aces first fight he was going against a much larger dog, Boxer expected him to lose but actually ended up holding his own. Soon after the police raided the area and Ace managed to escape where he lived on the streets. One night while Bruce was visiting Crime Alley, a joker attacked him when Ace assisted him but was hurt in the process and after Bruce took Ace home to recover. Back in the present, Ace is once again picked up by Boxer and at the same time Terry finally gets wind of Boxers hideout. Now despite their differences Terry and Ace work together to bring an end to Boxers dog fighting ring. The cruel nature of the material makes this episode one of the most memorable, considering Ace is always a side character in the series it is a nice change of pace to have his origin story told.
Season 3, Episode 5: Out of the Past
After the cheesiest Broadway play of Batman, Bruce returns home to finish celebrating the rest of his birthday. When he returns to the batcave Talia Al Ghul arrives to greet him and offers Bruce the opportunity to use the Lazarus Pit. Bruce begins to consider it when he is attacked by members of a gang and one of them throws a woman into a busy road. Of course Bruce leaps in the help her, but falls in the process and is picked up by Batman. Bruce makes the decision to take Talias offer and travels with her and Terry to Ra’s Al Ghuls island. They begin the process of placing Bruce in the Lazarus Pit, when he emerges from the pit he is much younger but attempts to attack Terry before Talia gases him to knock him out. When Bruce awakens he starts to regain control of his young body and quickly realizes how unnatural the feeling it, he attempts to leave but not without a fight. He and Terry fight their way through the various militia to escape, then Bruce hears Ra’s voice once more and starts to investigate. When Bruce plows through the door he finds Talia, she reveals to him that she is Ra’s Al Ghul. After his last encounter with Batman, Ra’s body was too damaged to be healed in the Lazarus Pit so instead transfer his subconscious to Talias body and ultimately killing what was left of her mind. Now Ra’s intends to place his subconscious into Bruces body to be once again restored. The image of seeing a young Bruce and Terry working together side by side comes as a sight viewers never thought they would ever see from the series, let alone the aged Bruce Wayne become young again.
Season 3, Episode 7 & 8: The Call
During a training session, the hero Micron receives a distress call of an out of control monorail. Micron decides to derail the train before it rams into the other, when he does the train locks and is unable to escape before the monorail crashes. Elsewhere, Terry is once again after the villain Inque but this time is assisted by the Man of Steel himself. Superman and Terry return to the batcave to meet with Bruce, Superman encourages Bruce for Terry to join the Justice League. Batman and Superman go to the Watchtower to introduce Terry to the rest of the league but Barda, Green Lantern, Aquagirl and Warhawk are against Supermans decision to incorporate him. Later there are multiple attacks happening all around Metropolis, as the League start to contain the situation Warhawk is caught in an explosion and presumed dead. At the Batcave Terry and Bruce analyze the batmobile footage of the incident and discover Superman was the cause of Warhawks death, and named the traitor. Bruce gives Terry his most confined piece of equipment he holds, Kryptonite. When Terry returns to the Watchtower, the rest of the League don’t believe Superman to be the traitor. Warhawk reveals himself to still be alive and backs up Terrys claim that Superman is the traitor. Now the League has to confront the world’s most powerful being, and find out the secret behind Supermans actions. While this series was released prior to Justice League and Justice League Unlimited, the writers manage to write those series to match with this two part episode and keep within continuity.
Season 3, Episode 13: Unmasked
Max encourages Terry to share his identity with more people, so that others might understand more of what Terry does. Terry refuses and tells her a story about the time he had to reveal his identity. Close to when Terry began his crusade as Batman, he was chasing after the Kobra gang and when missiles were fired they missed the batmobile and instead hit a tower with a little boy inside. Terry tries to rescue the boy, but he refuses from Batmans frightful appearance which forces Terry to make a brash decision of removing his mask to show the kid he is just a guy. Bruce scolds Terry, explaining to him the reason he isn’t supposed to reveal his identity. Telling him the boy is now a prime target as the man who saw Batmans face, now Terry has to watch over the boy to prevent him from being attacked. The Kobra Gang attack the kid as Bruce predicted, but the boy was still kidnapped by Kobra members in officer uniforms. Now Terry must search for the missing boy before Kobra force Batmans identity out of him or kill him. Using a device that can access the memory of the child, Kobra manage to get a face on Batman. At the same time, Batman is already infiltrating the Kobra base. However, the face the boy envisioned turned out to be the same face as his action figure and allowing Terry to maintain his identity as Batman. While this isn’t the most intense episode by any means, it comes off as another stepping stone and lesson for Terrys role as Batman. He is still young and a bit brash, many of us already know who Terry McGinnis really is. Some might say, its in his blood to be Batman.
That covers all of entries for the DC Animated Universe, covering ten of the best episodes from each series and also covering the animated films connected to the series. If you would like to see the other entries, check them out in the links below.