Batman Beyond began as a challenge to Bruce Timm, Paul Dini, and Alan Burnett. They were asked to come up with a new take on Batman that would make him a teenager. After the success of Batman: The Animated Series, the group did not want to take Bruce Wayne back into his teens. They had an idea. If the series were to take place in the future, they could have an old Bruce Wayne who had a younger man, Terry McGinnis, as Batman in his stead. The studio liked the idea and Batman Beyond was born.
Kevin Conroy reprised his role of Bruce Wayne and was joined by Will Friedle as Terry McGinnis. The series introduced a new rogues gallery for Terry. Fighting villains such as Blight, Inque, Spellbinder, Shriek, and Curare, Terry was established as his own man. However, you can’t outrun the past. Terry would soon have to come face-to-face with many of Bruce’s old foes, including Mr. Freeze, Bane, and Ra’s Al Ghul.
This cyberpunk take on the Dark Knight tackled some of the darker tones of the Batman universe. It touched on technological progression’s effects on society and the deeper psychological issues of characters like Bruce Wayne.
The series only had one straight-to-video film: Batman Beyond: The Return of the Joker. In the 2000 film, Terry comes up against Batman’s most dangerous villain in the Joker. The Clown Prince of Crime is alive and well years after Bruce is forced to retire. An action packed ride filled with suspense and mystery, the film showcased how Terry’s Batman differed heavily from Bruce’s but was not any less effective at his job. Two versions of the film were released. One was an edited PG version, which took out some of the violence following the deadly shootings at Columbine High School. In 2002, the film was released in an unedited PG-13 form after petitions asked for it.
Batman Beyond gave many people their first and favorite Batman in Terry McGinnis. He became so popular that he was introduced into the main comics continuity (a la Harley Quinn). There are even comics in continuity with the show, including Kyle Higgin’s Batman Beyond 2.0. Terry’s Batman has crossed over in several other DCAU shows, including Static Shock and Justice League Unlimited. There was even a short-lived spin-off show called The Zeta Project.
Regardless of their fear at the beginning of the project, Dini, Timm, Burnett, and their team came up with a Batman for a new generation. Batman Beyond was a bold new step for the iconic franchise that both brought in new fans and pleased those of Batman: The Animated Series.
You can buy the entirety of the series here or in individual volumes.