Batman: The Animated Series is widely considered to be one of the greatest on-screen interpretations of the Caped Crusader and his signature villains. The show gifted fans with the likes of Harley Quinn, provided sympathetic spins on previously silly characters, and above all, brought us Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill's iconic takes on Batman and the Joker.
As with any great show, there's bound to be a great story or two behind the scenes. Here are five of the most fascinating stories and facts about the writers, producers, and actors behind Batman: The Animated Series.
1. Writer Paul Dini Almost Quit The Show After A Violent Mugging Made Him Question Justice
Walking home one night during production on Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, Paul Dini's notions of heroism and right vs. wrong were shook when he was robbed and beat to near death by two random LA muggers. Broken and spiraling into depression, Dini considered leaving Warner Bros. Animation until a few interactions with friends and fans helped him realize that the stories he was telling helped inspire people to become their own heroes, even if masked vigilantes don't really exist.
He chronicled his road to physical and emotional recovery decades later in the 2016 graphic novel Dark Knight: A True Batman Story.
2. Voice Director Andrea Romano's Crush On Batman Helped Shape His Distinct Voice
Way before Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy normalized Batman and Bruce Wayne speaking in two distinct voices, Conroy had applied the technique thanks to a voice director with a thing for Batman. Andrea Romano wanted Batman to have a "sexy" voice so that The Animated Series would appeal to women viewers as well. This helped guide Conroy's voice away from the lighthearted Bruce towards a sombre Batman.
Knowing Romano had a crush on Batman, the writers named Bruce's love interest in Mask of the Phantasm Andrea, just so she'd get to hear Batman saying her name lustfully. Really, who wouldn't want a recording of Batman flirting with them?
3. Star Kevin Conroy Trained At Julliard Alongside Robin Williams And Christopher Reeve
Way before landing the role of a lifetime on BTAS, Kevin Conroy was a student in Julliard's prestigious drama program. While enrolled, Conroy roomed with none other than Robin Williams, who was also close friends with the soon-to-be star of Superman (1978), Christopher Reeve.
That's right, Batman and Superman went to college together — with Robin Williams!
4. Mark Hamill Was Such A Batman Fan, He Would Have Taken Any Role On BTAS
Mark Hamill redefined his career after being cast as The Animated Series' Joker, but he would have settled for any part he could get his hands on. Unlike Conroy, who only knew Batman from the campy Adam West show, Hamill was a lifelong fan of comic books and wanted desperately to get on the show in some capacity.
Originally, his agent only nabbed him the one-off role of Ferris Boyle, but when then-planned Joker Tim Curry's voice was deemed too sadistic, the part was given to Hamill for his still creepy but slightly less nightmarish laugh.
5. Paul Dini Pitched An Episode Where Batman Literally Meets Death
One of the first ideas Dini had after his mugging was for an episode where Batman entered a purgatory-like world and met Death. After barely escaping a brutal attack from his worst enemies, Batman's body would unconsciously hang from a building while his soul conversed with the embodiment of death.
Death would tell Batman that he's escaped her far too many times, and now owes her his life. Just then, the Sandman, Death's brother and ruler of dreams, would step in and explain how Batman's actions fill the dreams of people all around Gotham, and ask Death to spare the Dark Knight once again. The idea was rejected, likely for being too meta and dark, but one can see why that story was important to the writer, who learned himself what Batman meant after suffering his own near death experience.
Did you also know that even when fighting crime, Batman also sings to himself?
What's the craziest story you've heard behind the making of Batman: The Animated Series?