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Batman: The Complete Animated Series (Blu-ray Review)

Waiting with great anticipation since its announcement last year, Batman: The Complete Animated Series is finally arriving on Blu-ray in an impressive 12-disc set spanning the show’s entire history. Complete with the films Batman: Mask of the Phantasm and Batman & Mr. Freeze: Sub-Zero, the set debuts a brand new feature length retrospective documentary, The Heart of Batman. All the episodes have been restored and remastered and will contain lossless audio. Currently it is only available in a Deluxe Limited Edition featuring special packaging, a bonus disc, 7 lenticular art cards and 3 Funko mini Pop figures. This was originally set to a 30,000 unit run, but due to the sweeping sales (No surprise), Warner Bros has extended the Limited Edition and is pressing more units. Make sure you don’t sit on it too long, order from our Amazon link below. 

Series 

Produced by Warner Bros. Animation, the Emmy Award-winning series captured the imaginations of generations, setting the standard for super hero storytelling for the past quarter-century with its innovative designs, near-perfect voice cast and landmark approach to DC’s iconic characters and stories. The show spawned a couple of feature films in the theatrical release of Mask of the Phantasm and the straight to video film Batman & Mr. Freeze: Sub-Zero. A third film came around, Mystery of the Batwoman, but is not part of this set. This show’s canon would carry on later to Batman Beyond. Here’s hoping that could get a set next!

When I sat down to catch the premiere of Batman: The Animated Series back in 1992, I had no idea of what a special journey I was about to embark on with my favorite super hero. To me, it was just gonna be a cool new Batman cartoon. What I received was the most important, accurate and best iteration of Batman, quite possibly ever. During its run I saw a show that could run the gamut on style, genre, type. It could be a kids show and it could be a super adult one. The show featured a vast array of characters in a big city, and it always felt like there was room for everyone, not just Batman and Alfred. The show truly captivated me and I made sure I caught it every day after school, every Saturday it aired and also when it showed up in prime time. Yes, this show was so special and could take such various avenues, that this is the correct look.

Batman: TAS went beyond just the call of being a tune featuring the most popular super hero. No, it adhered to its source material and even expanded upon it. The show famously introduced us to Harley Quinn, who has since become one of the most popular characters in DC, not just the Bat-verse. While the show did know how to tell a comic Batman story, it was bold enough to take chances and rewrite some of the characters, shaping them into their defining iterations. Mr. Freeze is easily the most notable in this regard, but it happened lovingly to many others in the rogue’s gallery and beyond.

The show’s animation style is instantly captivating. It draws from the old Superman cartoons from the Fleischer era, but adds a heavier noir feel and look to it. Later in the series, there’d be a slight animation change, but it keeps very close to what we already had. Complimenting it was a fantastic score for the series that features an insane amount of memorable themes for episodes and title card music. The last big factor was the incredible list of voice casting they were able to pull off and bring this to life. The show’s success hinges upon the performances and They actually feel like they know that and do it one better.

I can sit and drool and gloat about how amazing this series is, but I’m preaching to the more than converted. We all know this show was beyond amazing. There’s one absolutely terrible episode (The appropriately 13th episode “I’ve Got A Batman In My Basement”), but pretty many any given episode ranges from pretty entertaining to fantastic. You can get a low-down of some of the series best HERE, as you’ll find everyone pretty much does lean mostly in the same direction with these. Decades later, this show is still just as fresh, impressive and important to the Batman and Super Hero mythos as it was back then. And for myself, I won’t crutch it as “Best super hero show”, but one of television’s greatest programs in its history.

Episodes

Batman: The Complete Animated Series features every episode from the series entire run from Batman: The Animated Series, The Adventures of Batman & Robin and The New Batman Adventures. It also contains the feature films Batman: Mask of the Phantasm and Batman & Mr. Freeze: Sub-Zero.

Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio:

  • Batman: The Animated Series – 1.33:1
  • Bonus Disc – 1.85:1 & 1.33:1
  • Batman: Mask of the Phantasm – 1.78:1 & 1.33:1
  • Batman & Mr. Freeze: Sub-Zero – 1.33:1

Layers: BD-50

Clarity/Detail: Batman: The Animated Series has been restored for this release and remastered in high definition. And it looks better than ever. The image is crisp and has a rather clean look to it. There is no sign of a heavy grain or anything. Being two dimensional, hand-drawn animation this isn’t a big bother and actually benefits into keeping it looking new. Its a sharp image with good colors. Of note, Mask of the Phantasm and Sub-Zero feature identical transfers to their previous releases.

Depth: The show has a rather two dimensional, flat look to it, but there are some great depth of field moments happening throughout. There are terrific instances where something is pushed to the front of the fame and stays while the camera glides along. Movements are smooth and cinematic with no motion distortions present when things build or get fast.

Black Levels: Blacks are deep, smooth and inky. It has a very dark appearance and also does well with some shading. No crushing present.

Color Reproduction: Colors are pretty gorgeous here with a more natural and primary look to them. Reds, greens, blues and yellows pop out pretty well. There are some glowing items like fires and other things that really roar nicely off the screen.

Flesh Tones: N/A

Noise/Artifacts: Clean

Audio 

Audio Format(s):

  • Batman: The Animated Series – English 2.0 DTS-HD MA, French 2.0 Dolby Digital, Spanish 2.0 Dolby Digital
  • Bonus Disc – English 2.0 Dolby Digital
  • Batman: Mask of the Phantasm – English 2.0 DTS-HD MA
  • Batman & Mr. Freeze: Sub-Zero – English 2.0 DTS-HD MA

Subtitles:

  • Batman: The Animated Series – English SDH, French, Spanish (Latin American)
  • Bonus Disc – English SDH, French, Spanish
  • Batman: Mask of the Phantasm – English SDH
  • Batman & Mr. Freeze: Sub-Zero – English SDH

Dynamics: Batman: The Animated Series arrives on Blu-ray with lossless audio on its 2.0 track. Its a well layered track that gets pretty deep and also has nice intricacies that feel loose and free among the mix. The depth and layering on the sound effects comes across naturally. Batman: Mask of the Phantasm and Sub-Zero feature the same audio mixes released previously.

Height: N/A

Low Frequency Extension: N/A

Surround Sound Presentation: N/A

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are clear and crisp, capturing diction and mouth sounds with good clarity.

Extras 

Batman: The Complete Animated Series is a 12-disc set and comes with an SD digital copy of every episode in the series (Does not includeMask of the Phantasm or Sub-Zero films). Currently available is the Deluxe Limited Edition which comes in special flatbook packaging that fits into hard shell case and includes 7 lenticular art cards and 3 Funk mini-figures (Batman, Joker, Harley Quinn). Going from the verbiage of the original press release, it appears that the Bonus Disc may also be exclusive to this Deluxe Limited Edition.

Aside from the Bonus Disc, all bonus materials are the same that were featured on the original DVD releases. Batman: Mask of the Phantasm and Batman & Mr. Freeze: Sub-Zero are the exact same discs previously released on Blu-ray.

Season 1 – Disc 1

Audio Commentary

  • On Leather Wings – By Bruce Timm and Eric Radomski

The Dark Knight’s First Night Pilot Promo: Hosted By Bruce Timm (SD, 5:03)

Introductions By Bruce Tim – On Leather Wings, Christmas with the Joker, Nothing to Fear, The Last Laugh, Pretty Poison.

Season 1 – Disc 2

Audio Commentary

  • Heart of Ice – By Paul Dini, Bruce Timm and Eric Radomski

Batman: The Legacy Continues Retrospective (SD, 18:03)

Tour of the Batcave (SD, 2:49) – “Batman”, “Utility Belt”, “Bat-Vehicles”, “Alfred”

Season 1 – Disc 3

Audio Commentary

  • Robin’s Reckoning Part One By Bruce Timm and Eric Radomski
  • Heart of Steel Part Two – By Bruce Timm, Eric Radomski and Kevin Altieri

Robin Rising: How the Boy Wonder’s Character Evolved (SD, 8:24)

Gotham’s Guardians: The Stalwart Supporting Characters (SD, 10:15)

Season 1 – Disc 4

Audio Commentary

  • Almost Got ‘Im – By Bruce Timm, Eric Radomski and Paul Dini

Voices of the Knight (SD, 8:08)

Season 1 – Disc 5

Audio Commentary

  • Harley and Ivy – By Bruce Timm, Paul Dini, Eric Radomski and Boyd Kirkland
  • Read My Lips – By Bruce Timm, Michael Reaves, Boyd Kirkland and Shirley Walker

Gotham’s New Knight (SD, 7:40)

Season 2 – Disc 1

Video Commentary

  • House & Garden – By Producer Bruce Timm, Director Boyd Kirkland and Writer Paul Dini

Audio Commentary

  • Harlequinade – By Bruce Timm, Shirley Walker and Eric Radomski

Season 3 – Disc 1

Audio Commentary

  • Over the Edge – By Bruce Timm, Paul Dini, Glen Murakami and James Tucker

Arkham Asylum: Examine the Top-Secret Case Files of the Dark Knight’s Many Foes (SD, 27:41) – “Introduction”, “Clayface”, “Harley Quinn”, “The Joker”, “Mr. Freeze”, “The Penguin”, “Poison Ivy”, “Ra’s Al Ghul”, “The Riddler”, “Scarecrow”, “Two-Face”, “Ventriloquist & Scarface”

Season 3 – Disc 2

Audio Commentary

  • Critters – By Bruce Timm, Paul Dini, Dan Riba, Glen Murakami and James Tucker
  • Legends of the Dark Knight – By Bruce Timm, Paul Dini, Dan Riba, Glen Murakami and James Tucker

Bonus Disc

The Heart of Batman (HD, 1:38:27) – This retrospective, split to three parts (“Season of Darkness”, “Musical Interlude”, “Season of Light”) is fantastic feature length documentary that recounts the series run in impressive fashion. This incredibly deep dive not only covers Batman: TAS but the state of Warner Bros animation department, animation as a whole, Tiny Toons Adventures, the 1960s Batman television show, Steven Spielberg and more…and that’s just BEFORE they start talking about Batman: TAS.

Concepting Harley Quinn (SD, 1:28) – An interview clip of Paul Dini discussing the creation of Harley Quinn as a one-shot character that became beloved and grew into the Batman universe.

Batman: Mask of the Phantasm

Includes both Theatrical and Television aspect ratio presentations. 

Trailer (HD, 1:05)

Batman & Mr. Freeze: Sub-Zero

The Mr. Freeze Saga – in Chronological Order

  • Heart of Ice [Batman the Animated Series] (SD, 22:28)
  • Deep Freeze [Batman the Animated Series] (SD, 21:13)
  • Cold Comfort [The New Batman Adventures] (SD, 20:52)
  • Meltdown [Batman Beyond] (SD, 20:48)

Art of Batman: Music Montage (SD, 2:31)

Get the Picture: How to Draw Batman (SD, :51)

Trailer (SD, 1:03)

Summary 

Drooling and giving non-stop praise to both the show and this box set will come in an overabundance and its all well-deserved. The program is the greatest Batman story ever told and lights its own signal in the Gotham City sky after starting as a compliment to the 1989 Burton film. Warner Bros restoration on the series is quite impressive as both sight and sound are outstanding. They’ve smartly kept all supplemental material intact and then crafted a phenomenal new documentary as the cherry on top. You probably already did months ago via pre-order, but just buy the damn set, folks, its awesome!

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

1 Response to “Batman: The Complete Animated Series (Blu-ray Review)”


  1. DrearierSpider

    Great review, very in depth. It’s worth noting that Vudu & WB have reached an agreement to update the digital copies to HD, and include both movies in HD digitally. This fixed what was easily the biggest complaint about the box set.

    https://mobile.twitter.com/VuduFans/status/1060320776921010176