Batman Beyond Shouldn’t Have to Beg for a Movie

Earlier in the week, My Dad the Bounty Hunter creator Patrick Harpin and Yuhki Demers, a visual artist on Sony Animation’s Spider-Verse films, revealed their concept art for an animated Batman Beyond movie they’re trying to get made. They’re both fully aware nothing might come of this, and talks are still happening. But it didn’t stop said art from going viral, both because it looks really cool, and also because it’s Batman Beyond, a fan-favorite character who’s always felt like he’s within spitting distance of a big bat-break.

If you work in a creative field, you likely have to pitch something to your boss before actually starting on it. That’s particularly true in animation, and that’s doubtful to change anytime soon. But there’s something ugly, for lack of a better word, in seeing Harpin and Demers have to publicly rally for support to prove their project’s “worthy” in this way to WB. It wasn’t that long ago that we learned the studio’s executives, led by Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav, are likely going to cancel Coyote vs. Acme without really considering any of the deals offered to them, or having actually seen the film. The people in charge of WB seem very anti-art in a way that makes this all come off as rather cruel, especially when folks have been so vocal about their love for Batman Beyond over the years.

Legacy superheroes have become so widespread nowadays, but Terry McGinnis was an early example of that working to great success. Separate from their love of Batman: The Animated Series, fans have had an affection for 1999-2001 animated series Batman Beyond and Terry’s exploits as the Batman of Neo-Gotham. It wasn’t just that the show was offering a new take on the Dark Knight, it was also really good and not just coasting off the novelty of a teenager in a high-tech Batsuit. And while he briefly showed up in Justice League Unlimited, DC didn’t make any active moves to continue Terry’s story, and largely closed the book on him after JLU revealed he was Bruce’s son.

Comics-wise, Terry’s actually been doing fairly well for himself in the past decade, where he was weaved into the prime DC universe. In his recent solo runs, he’s crossed paths with more recent Batman mainstays like Damian Wayne and the Court of Owls, and he’s now at the point where he’s on his own now that Bruce is dead. Yet even with that, WB has never tried to give him a bigger presence outside of the comics: a live-acton Batman Beyond movie was junked several years ago, much like an animated one rumored in 2019. He hasn’t been revived via the animated movies that WB likes to put out three or four of every year, and he doesn’t even have a video game presence beyond being costumes for Bruce in the Lego or Arkham games.

Outside of comics, WB has always handled Batman’s supporting cast oddly. Sometimes it puts embargoes on specific characters so there can’t be multiple versions; sometimes other characters can headline shows for about half a decade or be a supporting player in the story of another, bigger Batman character. The studio constantly overcomplicates itself for no real reason, and the same is true here—it loves Batman to death, and DC’s often been at its best when animated. Harpin and Demers’ hypothetical movie checks both those boxes, and gives audiences something they’ve never seen in theaters before: Batman being a detective in the cyberpunk future is a cool idea! And again, folks have been clamoring for more Terry for years.

Image for article titled Batman Beyond Shouldn't Have to Beg for a Movie

Image: Warner Bros. Animation

In a sane universe, a Batman Beyond movie in a Spider-Verse art style would probably be out by now. But this WB is trying to burn money and stall for time ahead of a likely buyout, so we’re watching an interesting idea by a pair of creators more than eager to work on it be held hostage. Batman Beyond isn’t owed this just because Harpin and Demers asked, or even because he’s been around for 25 years. What he’s owed is a legitimate chance to have something with him move forward with people who care about the property at the helm. But the focus on the bottom line means WB will be making moves that are more dystopian than the actual dystopia of Gotham City 2049.


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