Batman: Caped Crusader Trailer Promises a More Mature Animated Series

The first trailer for Batman: Caped Crusader features a lot of similarities to Batman: The Animated Series, but with a more explicit twist.

A shadowy figure moves through Gotham City, casting a menacing silhouette across walls and buildings. An old-timey television squawks questions at the viewer, asking, “What do you think about the Bat-Man?”

That description could fit almost any episode of the Batman: The Animated Series, still the best superhero cartoon ever made. However, it comes from the first trailer for Batman: Caped Crusader, the new cartoon series about the early days of the Dark Knight’s battle against crime.

The similarities between Caped Crusader and B:TAS aren’t an accident. Both come from Bruce Timm, the artist whose designs made B:TAS, Superman: The Animated Series, and Justice League so iconic. Timm returns to the character as the chief creative for Caped Crusader, alongside J.J. Abrams and The Batman director Matt Reeves as producers.

The DNA of the ’90s show can be seen all throughout the Caped Crusader trailer, including appearances by Harley Quinn and Renee Montoya, two characters who debuted in the cartoon show (albeit with different designs). Hamish Linklater, the new voice of animated Batman, has a lot of Kevin Conroy’s growl in his take on the character, and the various hoods that threaten the city feel just like the crooks who get punched out in the earlier show’s opening sequence.

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However, the trailer also insists that Caped Crusader is not just a retread of The Animated Series. Not only does the new cartoon feature a less experienced Batman, but it also focuses on the comics of the 1940s, the first stories about the character since his first appearance in 1939’s Detective Comics #27. In place of the barrel-chested Batman that Timm drew for TAS, Caped Crusader features a thinner hero, with the gloves and wider points from the Bill Finger design drawn by Bob Kane and Jerry Robinson. Baddies such as Clayface and Catwoman appear in earlier costumes, with the former wearing ghastly make-up instead of being a living lump of mud and the latter in her stylish purple dress.

But the most important distinction might be the tone of the new show. Early on, an interviewee on the aforementioned television complains that Gotham is going to “Hell in a hand basket,” a phrase too harsh for airing on Fox Kids. The guns fired at Batman have a more realistic feel than the toy weapons sported by the first series’ baddies. Batman finds two dead bodies, their eyes still wide open from the blast that killed them, unblinking as a spider crawls over an eyeball.

The Animated Series certainly had its more mature moments, both in terms of emotional depth (see: “Heart of Ice”) and in content, especially the movies. Anyone who saw the bodies Joker left behind in Batman: Mask of the Phantasm or the fate of young Tim Drake in spin-off Batman: The Return of the Joker knows that the show could go dark. But it was also still a children’s show, intended to be shown in early afternoons.

Caped Crusader releases on a streaming service in a climate inundated with superhero stories, including shows such as The Boys. The violence doesn’t carry the same shock as it did 30 years ago, which means that Timm and his collaborators can get a little more explicit. And if The Animated Series is any indication, they’ll also be able to get more complex in their storytelling, creating more emotionally rich tales of the Batman.

Batman: Caped Crusader comes to Prime Video on July 1.