The Heart of Batman (2018) / Batman: The Complete Animated Series – Deluxe Limited Edition (2018)
Batman: The Animated Series may be the most beloved cartoon of all time. If nothing else, it has influenced the direction of Batman and his rogues in all other media, and introduced arguably the most popular super-character to debut in the nineties, Harley Quinn. There has been a lot of commentary on the show in the past, including Special Features from the previous DVD releases. While informative, a lot of these features focused heavily on what we’ve already spoken about here, the influence of the show on all of bat-media. The Heart of Batman does something refreshingly different.
Within this new, feature length documentary you’ll not only find some candid commentary from the creators behind the show but a more academic history of the show’s creation. The series’ Dark-Deco style and the influences on the show’s design are as well documented and certainly have their place here, but it’s just addressed more completely in The Heart of Batman. Don’t think this is limited to the self-promotion you often find in special features either, here we are given honest and complete context of the animation business as the show went into production. Though the show’s connections to Tiny Toon Adventures are well known, the audience is also treated to some lesser known connections to Super Friends and DuckTales (wooo-ooo). I was truly impressed with how many commentators they tracked down from this one, they even have a lot of the players from Fox Kids in the mix. The crew also utilizes the vast resources of Warner Bros. and provides some great clips to compliment the commentary.
The Heart of Batman is broken into two parts. First comes Batman: Season of Darkness, which covers the aforementioned contextualization of the shows inception. Yes, I like that sentence and I’m not changing it one bit. Batman: Season of Light, the documentary’s second part, covers a lot of the show’s influences as they went into production and the production itself. This is as solid as the first part and listening to Bruce Timm talk about the influence of Dan DeCarlo and Alex Toth on his designs is a great pleasure. In fact, the general reverence for the greats of the comic book industry is incredibly heartening. Everyone involved in this documentary knows how powerful these characters can be and there is not point in which you doubt it. There are many pop culture documentaries that slip into comedy, this isn’t one of them. Oh, and there is an interlude between the two parts that is utterly unexpected, but reminds you of the power of one big aspect of the show.
The Heart of Batman is exclusive to the limited edition of the Batman: The Animated Series Blu-Ray set. Grab it while you can.