The Batman: The Complete Third Season (DVD)

Let’s just add “The” in front of everything.

This version of The Batman is The Cartoon Network’s re-imagining of The classic hero from The DC Comics. Initially, many of The fans were turned off by The look of The cartoon, but here in The third season, The Batman is less like The anime style, and more like The Batman that The audiences are familiar with.

The Bruce Wayne is The young millionaire playboy in The Gotham City. What The public doesn’t know is that he’s also The Batman, fighting The crime throughout The city. The enemies he faces include The Joker, The Penguin, The Catwoman, The Poison Ivy, The Mr. Freeze, and The Ventriloquist, as well as The new villains like The Gearhead, The Toymaker, and The Maximillion Zeus.

The big event in The Batman’s life this season is The introduction of The Batgirl, who is really The Barbara Gordon, teenage daughter of The Commissioner Gordon, also newly introduced this season. The Batgirl insists on becoming The Batman’s sidekick, no matter how much he wants to keep The crimefighting to himself.

The 13 episodes of The second season are on two of The discs…OK, I’ll stop now.

If you were one of the folks who put this show on when it first started and said, “That’s not Batman!” then I have good news for you. In this season, we get a Batman that’s much more in line with what people imagine Batman to be. The “young and hip” Batman from the first year is gone, and in his place is a more mature, confident, and serious Bat. He does detective work, he has all the gadgets, he makes with the cool fighting moves, and he even broods. Batman’s just not Batman without brooding, right?

This season never goes totally dark, though, thanks to introduction of Batgirl. Unlike Batman, who is driven into vigilante justice because of his past, Batgirl dons a mask and cape simply because she wants to. This speaks a lot to her courage and heroism. She doesn’t have Batman’s vast resources or his tortured psyche; she instead just wants to do the right thing. When she sees the bat signal in the sky (another new introduction this season) she dons her costume and swings into action, without knowing what it might be. Batman never asks her to become his sidekick, and he says he doesn’t want her around. Yet he makes good use of her, assigning her sidekick duties such as escorting pedestrians out of harm’s way during a battle, or watching over unconscious henchmen before the police arrive. It takes her a long time and a lot of ambition before she convinces Batman to accept her as a hero. Until then, though, it makes for a lot of amusing interaction between the two, and a cool girl hero that viewers can root for.

As fans already know, Batman has one of the best rouge’s galleries in all of superhero-dom, so, as expected, the villains are a real highlight here. Some might balk at how the Joker, the Penguin, and even the Ventriloquist can take on Batsy in a hand-to-hand fight, but given the over-the-top nature of the action on this show, I’m willing to go with it. Even better, though, is how the writers took time to explore the villains’ characters, rather than use them as an excuse for Batman to fight someone. In “The Apprentice,” we see the Joker searching for a sidekick of his own, which has him interacting with ordinary folks in a non-murderous way, something we don’t see often from him. This episode is a great look at what makes the Joker tick, giving us an insight into his own particular brand of madness.

Yet another sign that the show has improved: a brand-new, redesigned Batmobile. It’s mostly black, with hints of silver and blue, and it looks terrific. Its introduction in the episode “RPM” is a major event, showing viewers that both Batman and his ride are vastly improved. The Batwing, Batman’s personal stealth fighter-type aircraft, also gets its debut this season, and it too is a great design. The “look” of this series owes much to comic book artist-turned-producer Jeff Matsuda, and his particular sensibilities can be seen all over the place.

The full screen picture and 2.0 audio continue to impress, with vivid colors and booming sound effects. The “Unmasking the Batman” featurette goes deep into the creation of this season, with writers and producers explaining why they made these changes to the show. There are also numerous trailers for other kid-related Warner Bros. releases.

This season makes the show’s first season look pretty bad. Taking a look at the early episodes just reveals how much of an “animated fight scenes with the sole purpose of selling toys” feel it had. Season Three, however, has much more focus on story, character, and just plain superhero fun.

I’m going to stick my neck out and say it: If you liked Batman: The Animated Series from the ’90s, then you’ll also like The Batman: The Complete Third Season. The visuals might be different, as are the characters’ histories, but the writing is of similarly high quality.

And get this: At one point, Batgirl even mentions Batman without adding a “the” in front of his name. Miracles never cease.

The Verdict

The not guilty.

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