HOME ABOUT SUPPORT US SITES WE LIKE FORUM Search Fanboyplanet.com | Powered by Freefind FANBOY PLANET
DVD Today's Date:

The Batman: Training For Power

Light-sensitive Batmobile not included -- dang it.
When Bruce Timm and Paul Dini first visited the DC Universe with Batman: The Animated Series, they riffed a bit from the Fleischer Brothers and Tim Burton to come up with an instant classic. Dark and foreboding, that series and its variations offered a serious cartoon that perhaps kids could enjoy, but that satisfied a more mature audience.

Eventually those two moved on, and the Batman franchise fell into other hands, becoming more and more kid friendly. Two years ago, in fact, the Dark Knight became almost light-hearted in the direct-to-video release Mystery of the Batwoman. Still, that 1990 vision cast a long shadow, one that seemed more brooding (in a good way) than fun.

And brooding doesn't really sell toys.

That's not necessarily a criticism of the new animated series, The Batman. In today's synergistic market-driven world, licensing has to be given consideration. So it makes sense to start from scratch, go back to the early days of Batman's career to make him more identifiable to kids and darn it, make it more kid-friendly and hip.

The resulting series drives old-time fans nuts, partially because the kids really do seem to love it. Batman and his world have been reduced to broad strokes and bright colors rather than the shades of grey that Timm and Dini gave us. Episodes follow a fairly straightforward formula, the better for kids to latch onto just what the characters are about.

This is not your father's Joker -- or mine...
Want proof? Watch the three episodes collected on The Batman: Training For Power. From the first, "Bat in the Belfry," it's clear that this new series owes a lot to 60s and 70s storytelling. The Gotham City police department has no interest in working with this bizarre vigilante, and assigns two detectives to arrest him. Ironically, of course, one happens to be Bruce Wayne's college buddy.

So each episode goes. The police are torn between trying to capture the Batman and/or the freakish villains that he seems to attract. And of course, at various intervals Alfred has to signal Bruce Wayne on his Bat-PDA. Thank heavens that he only dates bimbos; they never notice the red and yellow bat-shaped light that goes on a little too long. Allegedly, that signal triggers a response from the tie-in toys, but I can't prove that until Mattel offers us those for review. (HINT.)

The villains are elements of the show that drive old fans crazy, but make a weird sort of sense. Designed as if they were making their first appearance in today's world, they reflect popular culture. On the flip side, they often bear little resemblance to the villains we've come to know and love.

The Penguin, actually, still looks close to the way most people think of him, but with a touch of rich nerd. Perhaps the most jarring redesign is in The Joker, looking like a literal loony bin escapee, actually breaking into Arkham Asylum to use it as a base of operations. Still dangerous, he seems less homicidal (and thus more kid-friendly) than the Mark Hamill-voiced version - though Kevin Michael Richardson doesn't actually sound that much different than Hamill.
But this Dracula just wants kids to eat their vegetables...
Helping to build future Fanboys, the DVD includes the obligatory trivia quiz, though the interface acted up on the copy we received. Though it only underscores that this show is as much about toys as entertainment, the extra featurette takes a behind-the-scenes look at how Mattel puts a Batman action figure together. Framed by the animated Detective Yin trying to find Batman at the Mattel offices, the designers and sculptors obviously have a lot of fun with their fifteen minutes of fame. Despite the goofiness of the set-up, it's also pretty informative.

If you yearn for the earlier animated series, that's available, too. But the kids in your house probably would prefer The Batman. The show has proven popular enough that it will get a direct-to-video feature this Fall, The Batman vs. Dracula, which likely isn't adapted from the Elseworlds story Red Rain.

Still, it's been over ten years. Let the children have their bat and those wonderful toys. You can always try to convert them later.

The Batman - Season 1, Vol. 1 - Training for Power

 The Batman Vs Dracula

Derek McCaw

Our Friends:

Official PayPal Seal

Copyrights and trademarks for existing entertainment (film, TV, comics, wrestling) properties are held by their respective owners and are used with permission or for promotional purposes of said properties. All other content ™ and © 2001, 2014 by Fanboy Planet™.
"The Fanboy Planet red planet logo is a trademark of Fanboy Planetâ„¢
If you want to quote us, let us know. We're media whores.
Movies | Comics | Wrestling | OnTV | Guest | Forums | About Us | Sites