Batman: The Animated Series

The Opening Credits
harkovast at 4:56PM, June 10, 2009
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My mission statement here is to review and comment on every episode of B:TAS ever made, but before I can move on to talk about the show itself, I need to talk about the opening.
Later in the shows run, other openings were introduced, but none can hold a candle to the original opening.
While Batman:TAS is in my view the best cartoon ever made, the original opening is literally the most inspired opening to ANY show I have ever seen.

It starts with the WB icon, which then fades to a strange black shape, like a dark face with glowin beams shining down from it's eyes.
I remember when I first saw this thinking “What the heck is going on here? What is that thing?”
The view then pans down showing us that it is actually a blimp with search lights, one of several floating over a strange dark city of enormous sky scrapers.
The view pans down to the front of one of the buildings, which has the word “BANK” written above it's entrance.
What follows is like a sort of mini episode.
Suddenly, the BANK explodes and two shadowy crooks flee the scene.

B:TAS benefits greatly from having an orchestral score and it is used to the full in the opening. The build up was accompanied by the sinister sound of the string section, then as the explosion occurs, the brass section comes in, making the blast seem doubly powerful.
Though the cost is no doubt high, I wish more animations would use orchestral scores.
Look at the old Tom and Jerry cartoons. One thing a lot of people over look is that the originals really benefit from the orchestra music supporting them. The sound of Tom's teeth shattering is the sound of symbols, a crash of drums accompanies every heavy impact. Compare the early Tom and Jerry cartoons to the later ones and (asside from cheaper animation and worse writing etc) the lost of the orchestral score basically hobbles them before they even begin.
(But dont compare the old cartoons to the Tom and Jerry movie…only because no one, anywhere, should ever watch that god awful piece of crap!)

The brass section continues to sound as we see the Batmobile roar out of the Batcave.
In this version, the Batmobile basically takes the form of a giant, black, armoured, rocket powered limo. It must be about 40 feet long! It is as exaggerated and stylised as the world it inhabits. While I appreciate Batman Begins and The Dark Knight were trying to make things more grounded (and I do really like those movies and think the Bat Mobile in them is awesome) to me the Bat mobile will always be the awesome machine from B:TAS. Yes, it is ridiculous, but the whole concept of Batman and the world he inhabits is ridiculous and over the top, so this cars fits in perfectly.

What is great about this opening is that it does so very much with so little.
The figures are just dark silouetes, but this just makes it all the more striking as Batman ambushes the two crooks. The simplicity allows the animation to be fast and smooth and makes Batman seem more like a great dark shadow as he lashes out on the bad guys, all the while the music building and building.

With the villians defeated, we see see the police arrive to find the crooks tied up, one cop scratching his head, as if wondering who could have done this.

The camera pans up and the string section returns as we see the unmistakable silouete of Batman, illuminated momentarily by a bolt of lighting in the sky behind him. He is striking literally the most dramatic pose ever seen by man at this stage!

We now know everything we need to know about the show.
It is a dark crime filled city, with crooks the cops cant stop. Batman is mysterious shadowy figure who sweeps in and solves these crimes before disapearing off again.

That is Batman in a nutshell.

All without any characters speaking or showing the word Batman (or any writing other then ‘BANK’). They dont even show a big old bat symbol! The only one of those is glimpsed briefly on Batman's chest at the very end.

We also get to see the wonderful, stylised world of this cartoon, a world of shadows and organised crime and men in hats.

This opening still gives me goose bumps, because it is so very simple, but so remarkably powerful.


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last edited on July 18, 2011 10:16AM
Wordweaver_three at 3:55AM, June 23, 2009
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An opening sequence with a campy song such as was so popular with Saturday morning cartoons would have been a travesty.

Na na na na na na na na
Batman! BATMAN!
His mom and dad were shot!
Batman! BATMAN!
He thought about it a whole lot!
Batman! BATMAN!
So he decided to become
Batman! BATMAN!
Look out Joker here comes
BATMAN!

It's also so different from the art style actually used in the show. A choice that I always thought was brilliant. Much better then all the shows that use screencaps from various episodes to make the opening sequence (*cough* Gargoyles *cough*). What kind of laziness is that? You couldn't be bothered to animate a 30 second opening? Are you kidding me?

Batman TAS doesn't try to dazzle you with how complicated and awesome the show is going to be with the opening. It's simple and straightforward, Batman takes down a couple of generic bank robbers. They don't strobe light you with all his fantastic villains, nor do they have “serious voice guy” try to force you to respect the concept of the show. It's Batman, we get it.
last edited on July 18, 2011 10:16AM
Phillby at 4:47PM, Sept. 30, 2009
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Art-deco Batmobile is the best Batmobile.

That orchestrial theme is the best thing to come out of the Tim Burton Batman movies.
last edited on July 18, 2011 10:16AM
harkovast at 4:57PM, Sept. 30, 2009
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The new tank Bat mobile has its charm, but the ridiculous black limo is always the best.

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last edited on July 18, 2011 10:16AM
EssayBee at 1:00PM, Jan. 7, 2010
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posts: 154
joined: 11-10-2009
Phillby
Art-deco Batmobile is the best Batmobile.

That orchestrial theme is the best thing to come out of the Tim Burton Batman movies.
The Batmobile in BtAS was obviously inspired by Burton's Batmobile. And Danny Elfman's theme is great, but I also love Shirley Walker's theme, which the show eventually transitioned to (and was used as the music for the credits when BtAS became The Adventures of Batman and Robin).

Still, this has got to be one of the all time (if not THE best of all time) opening credits for any show. It captures the mood of the show so well and tells its own story. Plus the design and animation are superb.

Anyone ever see the short animation test that Timm and co. put together for WB before the show went into production? It's very similar to the opening, but a lot lighter and less stylized. I think it was included in an HBO behind-the-scenes look at Mask of the Phantasm. Kind of neat to see how the design of the show evolved.
last edited on July 18, 2011 10:16AM
harkovast at 5:45PM, Jan. 7, 2010
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posts: 5,197
joined: 10-12-2008
Essaybee I have indeed seen the pilot animation they did!
It is really cool to see the evolution.
It was more “bendy” if that makes sense? The characters felt more rubber and less solid compared to the final version, which was very angular and ‘hard’ looking.

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last edited on July 18, 2011 10:16AM

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