Batman: The Animated Series Almost Had Swamp Thing & Black Canary Episodes

Paul Dini once pitched a Black Canary and Catwoman episode for Batman: The Animated Series. He also had an idea for a Swamp Thing story!

Paul Dini, the writer best known for his work on several DC animated series from the 1990s and early ’00s, has opened up about two episodes that didn’t make it into the seminal Batman: The Animated Series. As we previously chronicled here, there were quite a few ideas for episodes that ultimately didn’t make it into production at Fox for a myriad of reasons. 

Dini told CBR that one such pitch was a Black Canary and Catwoman episode. According to Dini, the episode was rejected because it didn’t have enough Robin in it. 

“Yeah, the Black Canary/Catwoman episode was a casualty,” he said. “They wanted more Robin in the series, and each time we wanted to drop him from a story, we had to fight for it. Not that we had anything against Robin, we just wanted to stretch now and then and do solo Batman stories or episodes that focused mainly on Gordon or the villains. After the experimentation of the first season, the network felt we might be leaving the boys behind, so we got the edict, add more Robin.”

It’s not hard to believe that Fox would want more Boy Wonder in a Saturday morning cartoon. After all, Robin has always served as a way into Batman’s world from a younger perspective. While Batman is dark and broody, Robin is traditionally a lighter character (Damian Wayne, the current Robin in the comics, notwithstanding). Fox was evidently keen on this lighter and younger perspective.

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Dini didn’t go into too much more detail about what the Black Canary/Catwoman episode would have been about. He did reveal another idea he had that ultimately didn’t happen due to a rights issue.

“Other than that, there was a Poison Ivy seducing Swamp Thing story I toyed around with,” Dini told CBR, “but the rights to Swampy weren’t available then. I did a sort of version of it years later as an episode of Justice League Action.”

It’s hard to say who owned the rights to Swamp Thing at the time, but the character did briefly have his own animated series on Fox in 1991. That series was produced by the now-defunct DIC Entertainment. It only had five episodes. 

Swamp Thing finally made his DC animated universe debut in a short cameo in the Justice League episode “Comfort and Joy.” He currenly appears on Cartoon Network’s Justice League Action

It’s a shame we didn’t get to see Black Canary or Swamp Thing in Batman: The Animated Series, considering they’ve both collaborated with the Caped Crusader in the comics. In fact, Batman and Swampy had a fantastic team-up in Tom King and Mitch Gerads’ recent “The Brave and the Mold” one-shot in which the duo investigate who killed Swamp Thing’s dad. It’s good stuff! Just look at this series of panels:

“Dead is not dead” is now my mantra.