ByAlec Enright, writer at Creators.co
I am vengeance, I am the night... I write about movies and stuff. Check me out on twitter @alecenright
Alec Enright

It's no secret that I am a huge fan of Batman: The Animated Series. The critically acclaimed series sparked a love for the Caped Crusader that for many of us still continues to this day. While most of us fans look back and remember the series with a great deal of nostalgia, on a repeat viewing it still holds up as one of the greatest adaptations of the Dark Knight that exists outside of the comics. #BatmanTheAnimatedSeries wasn't just a good television adaptation of one version of Batman, but it actually contributed a great deal to the mythos of the character. With all of that being said, #WarnerBros.' film franchise based around #DC Comics, the DC Extended Universe, has had a few instances where they could take a lesson from Batman: The Animated Series and applied it to the films. Here is what the DCEU can learn from Batman: The Animated Series (and Mask of the Phantasm).

The Balance Of Lighter Humor And Darker Themes

Photo: Warner Bros.
Photo: Warner Bros.

Regardless of whether you have enjoyed the three entries in the DCEU, balancing the tone of those films has been one of the biggest criticisms. Where Batman: The Animated Series got it right was balancing the two within the course of a 22-minute episode. Alfred was never afraid to crack a joke at the expense of Bruce, as illustrated by him "drawing" a bath. This, among many other examples, show how a series that was noted for its darker themes could actually make its audience crack a few laughs at the same time. With all of the rumors about #SuicideSquad having two cuts, one having a lighter tone and one having a darker tone, Batman: The Animated Series can teach Warner Bros. that they can find a nice middle ground and a good balance of tone.

The Treatment Of Villains

Photo: Warner Bros
Photo: Warner Bros

Let's be honest here: The villains are the real stars of Batman: The Animated Series. Paul Dini and the rest of the writing team gave such attention and care to the villains that has only sparsely been seen in modern superhero adaptations. The perfect example of this is Mr. Freeze. By reworking his back story, they turned Victor Fries into a tragic character. Yes, he does terrible things, but he does it for his terminally ill wife Nora.

He is just one example of the writers doing the villain tremendous justice, and they didn't reinvent many of them. Two-Face, Penguin, Scarecrow, Catwoman and of course the Joker are all present and get plenty of respect. The villains so far in the DCEU have actually been pretty well thought out and executed (for the most part), especially Zod/Faora/the Kryptonians in Man of Steel and Deadshot and Harley in Suicide Squad. Hopefully DC and Warner Bros. pay attention and give the villains the treatment they deserve in the DCEU, much like Batman: The Animated Series did.

Batman's Struggle

Photo: Warner Bros
Photo: Warner Bros

In recent years, it feels like Bruce Wayne has slowly been phased out and is beginning to be portrayed solely as Batman, with recent adaptations such as #BatmanVSuperman and The Arkham video game series (although Batman: The Telltale Series is changing that). Whether there is a Bruce Wayne or not, portrayals of the character often fail to capture the struggle between the two. Batman: The Animated Series and Mask of the Phantasm captured the struggle perfectly.

Showing his desire to both live up to the promise he made his parents to protect Gotham and wanting to lead a normal life gave the character a depth that neither Bruce nor Batman can show on their own. Judging by the post-credits scene of Suicide Squad, it doesn't look like Batman is going to be taking off many nights or weekends in the near future, but hopefully DC and Warner Bros. will try and show the struggle Batman leads (but hopefully not try and force it in. If it isn't there, it just isn't there).

Take Risks

Photo: Warner Bros.
Photo: Warner Bros.

Batman has one of the most celebrated comic book histories of any character out there, so what did the writers of Batman: The Animated Series do? They took a risk and created an original character who you might have heard of: Harley Quinn. The writers weren't afraid to take risks. While a few episodes of a television show are different from large blockbusters fans patiently wait years for, the DCEU can take its cue from The Animated Series and Mask of the Phantasm in terms of risk taking. Personally, I feel comic book movies today do not take very many risks, which gives the fans a more diluted product. Not saying the movies are outright bad because of this, but they could be a greater product if the writing team decides to take a few chances. Of course, they don't call it a risk for nothing, because it could backfire, but the DCEU should take the lead from Batman: The Animated Series and be a bit fearless when writing the stories for their films.

Batman has one of the most celebrated comic book histories of any character out there, so what did the writers of Batman: The Animated Series do? They took a risk and created an original character who you might have heard of: #HarleyQuinn. The writers weren't afraid to take risks. While a few episodes of a television show are different from large blockbusters fans patiently wait years for, the DCEU can take its cue from The Animated Series and Mask of the Phantasm in terms of risk taking.

Personally, I feel comic book movies today do not take very many risks, which gives the fans a more diluted product. Not saying the movies are outright bad because of this, but they could be a greater product if the writing team decides to take a few chances. Of course, they don't call it a risk for nothing, as it could backfire, but the DCEU should take the lead from Batman: The Animated Series and be a bit fearless when writing the stories for their films.

The Definitive Portrayal Of The Joker

Photo: Warner Bros
Photo: Warner Bros

This is what really separates Batman: The Animated Series from other Batman titles. Simply put: The characterization of the Joker, along with Mark Hamill's expert voicing of the character, is what makes this television show so special. From his gag-antics to his mayhem-fueled plots, this Joker had range, something that has been omitted in the previous two big-screen iterations of the character (maybe the character was more similar to this one in Suicide Squad, but we'll have to wait to find that out, if we ever do).

The lesson the DCEU can learn from this Joker, like many of the lessons I have already laid out is this: they don't have to choose whether or not to make him a crazy jokester or a homicidal maniac — they can do both! Without this Joker, Batman: The Animated Series would not be remembered as it is today. Plus, "Christmas with the Joker" is an absolute-must watch when the holiday season arrives.

So there you have, five things the DCEU can learn from the absolute masterpiece that is Batman: The Animated Series. DC and Warner Bros seem to be panicked about what to do given that both of their #DCEU releases in 2016 were not as well received critically as they had hoped, even if they were financial successes. Maybe they will take some guidance from this article. Then again, what do I know? I'm just a blogger on the internet.

Do you think the DCEU can learn from Batman: The Animated Series? Let me know in the comments!