Batman Beyond (known as Batman of the Future in Europe, Latin America, Australia, and Asia) is an American animated television series developed by Bruce Timm, Paul Dini, and Alan Burnett and produced by Warner Bros. Animation in collaboration with DC Comics as a continuation of the Batman legacy. Depicting a teenaged Batman in a futuristic Gotham City under the tutelage of an elderly Bruce Wayne, the series began airing on January 10, 1999, and ended its run on December 18, 2001. After 52 episodes spanning three seasons and one direct-to-video film, the series was put on hold for the Justice League animated series, despite the network having announced plans for a fourth season.
Batman Beyond is set in the chronological future of the DC animated universe (despite being released before Static Shock, Justice League, and Justice League Unlimited), and serves as a continuance of both Batman: The Animated Series and The New Batman Adventures.
Batman Beyond is said to explore the darker side of many Batman projects, playing on key elements such as emotions, personal relations, fear of the unknown, to cyberpunk and sci-fi themed elements such as issues and dilemmas of innovation and technological and scientific progress affecting society, and to the disturbing psychological elements of the character of Bruce Wayne. As such, it was considerably darker than most other children's programs at the time, although producer Bruce Timm recalls it was conceived as a kid-friendly Batman cartoon. It is also the first Batman series to portray the hero as a teenager. IGN named the show 40th on their list of "Top 100 Animated TV Series." The premise of Batman Beyond has been used in various comic book stories published by DC Comics, including an ongoing series beginning in 2011.
The pilot episode begins in the year 2019. Batman, despite his aging, continues to fight crime in a new high-tech Batsuit. In the rescue of a kidnapped heiress, Batman suffers a mild heart attack and, at risk of being beaten to death by one of the kidnappers, is forced to betray a lifelong principle by threatening to use a gun. Ultimately, Bruce reluctantly decides that his time as Batman is over and vows "never again" as he shuts down the Batcave. By this time, his allies (Alfred Pennyworth, Commissioner James Gordon, Lucius Fox, Leslie Thompkins, Renee Montoya and Harvey Bullock) have died of natural causes or retired. His partners Dick Grayson, Barbara Gordon, Selina Kyle and Tim Drake are still alive and have grown up and left or had falling-outs after their retirement from their alter-egos. All of his enemies such as The Joker, Harley Quinn, The Penguin, Two-Face, The Scarecrow, Poison Ivy, The Riddler, Killer Croc, Deadshot, Clayface , Man-Bat, Ra's al Ghul, The Terrible Trio and Phantasm are either retired, in prison, in exile, or dead, and he has severed his ties with the Justice League.
The story fast-forwards 20 years later to 2039 in Neo-Gotham, a futuristic megalopolis featuring staggering high rises and flying vehicles. Bruce is now an old man and a recluse living in bitter isolation in Wayne Manor, with no companion but his guard dog Ace. Terry McGinnis is an athletic 16-year-old high school student and reformed troublemaker with a deeply ingrained sense of personal justice. Living on poor terms with his father Warren McGinnis, Terry disobeys his curfew one night to meet up with his girlfriend Dana Tan, only to incur the wrath of a group of the Jokerz gang harassing them. A high-speed motorcycle chase between Terry and the Jokerz leads them to the grounds of Wayne Manor, where they run into the elderly Bruce Wayne. Bruce and Terry fend off the Jokerz side-by-side, but the exertion aggravates Bruce's heart condition. Terry helps Bruce back to the manor and, while exploring the mansion, stumbles upon the entrance to the Batcave and thus discovers Bruce's secrets, only to be chased out by a recovered and angered Bruce.
Terry returns home to discover that his father has been murdered, apparently by the vengeful Jokerz. Soon after, though, he discovers that his father had stumbled onto information about the production of illegal chemical weapons by Derek Powers through Wayne-Powers (Wayne Enterprises now merged with Powers's company) and that the man actually responsible for his father's murder is Powers's personal assistant/bodyguard Mr. Fixx. Terry goes to Bruce for help but he refuses, feeling he is too old and too weak to be of any use and instead tells Terry to take the evidence to Barbara Gordon (who has become the new Police Commissioner). After the evidence of the illegal weapon production is forcibly taken from Terry by Derek Powers, Terry subsequently steals the Batsuit, intending to bring Powers to justice. Bruce initially opposes all of Terry's efforts and vehemently demands he return the suit but Terry convinces Bruce to let him take on the Batman mantle, partially by drawing on the fact they both lost a parent to criminals, and subsequently defeats Mr. Fixx. During the battle, Powers is exposed to the chemical and forced to flee into hiding to receive treatment which subsequently mutates him into a radiation-emitting entity, though he uses artificial skin to hide the accident. Realizing that crime and corruption are running rampant in Gotham without Batman's presence, Bruce offers Terry the chance to assume the role of Batman in addition working as Bruce's chauffeur and assistant so that Terry can support his family.
The new Batman soon develops his own rogues gallery, with both new villains (the radiation-emitting metahuman Blight; seductive shape-shifter Inque; hypnotist Spellbinder; sound weaponizer Shriek; deadly assassin Curare; insane terrorist Mad Stan; cybernetically-enhanced African big game hunter Stalker; nerdy psychokinetic Willie Watt; and a new version of the Royal Flush Gang) as well as some of the original Batman's old foes, such as a rejuvenated Mr. Freeze; Bane's strength-enhancing Venom substance reborn as slap-on patches; the longevous Ra's al Ghul; and somewhat inevitably, the Joker himself.
Terry also makes allies in Neo-Gotham, such as the 16-year-old computer genius Maxine "Max" Gibson discovering Batman's secret identity and helps Terry with everything from computer hacking to babysitting, and police commissioner Barbara Gordon initially unhappy about another person following in Bruce's dark and dangerous steps (though she admits the city needs Batman and that Terry could not be deterred from being Batman any more than she could have been from being Batgirl).
In the third season of Batman Beyond, a two-part episode "The Call" featured (for the first time) the futuristic Justice League, a springboard for Bruce Timm's next series Justice League. The setting and characters of Batman Beyond were also briefly revived in the 2004 Static Shock episode "Future Shock" in which Static is accidentally transported 40 years into the future.
Justice League Unlimited revisited the Batman Beyond world twice in 2005, first in "The Once and Future Thing" (Part 2), which featured Batman, Wonder Woman and Green Lantern being transported 50 years into the future to stop a time-travelling villain with the help of the future Justice League (Batman II, a future Static and Warhawk). The second time occurred during the second-season finale, where Terry McGinnis's true origin is learned in a story meant to be the de facto series finale for Batman Beyond.
The Justice League Unlimited episode "Epilogue", the unofficial series finale, reveals that Bruce Wayne is actually Terry McGinnis's biological father. The story, set fifteen years after Terry became the new Batman, centers on Terry tracking down a geriatric Amanda Waller, who reveals his origins to him.
She explains through flashbacks that, even though she trusted and respected Batman, she was aware of him growing older and slower, thus accepting the idea of either Bruce retiring or being killed at some point. Finding the idea of a world without Batman unacceptable, Waller used her Project Cadmus connections to gather the technology for "Project Batman Beyond", whose goal was to physically create a new Batman, starting with a secretly collected sample of Bruce Wayne's DNA. After finding a young Neo-Gotham couple—the McGinnis'-- with psychological profiles nearly identical to those of Bruce's parents, a nanotech solution was injected into Warren McGinnis to rewrite his reproductive material. The eventual result was his wife Mary McGinnis giving birth to Terry, a child sharing the genetic traits of his mother and Bruce Wayne.
When Terry was 8 years old, Waller employed an elderly Phantasm (Andrea Beaumont, Bruce's ex-fiancée, whose exit from Bruce's life became one of the reasons why he became Batman in the first place) as an assassin to kill Terry's family, hoping the trauma would put him on the path to becoming Batman. However, Beaumont could not commit the act, arguing that Bruce would never resort to murder to achieve his goals. Waller eventually conceded that Beaumont had been right and abolished the project altogether. Nine years afterward, Warren would be murdered, and Terry would meet Bruce by happenstance—resulting in Terry becoming Batman's successor. Waller concludes by reminding Terry that he is Bruce's son, not his clone, and that despite the circumstances of his existence, he still has free will to live out his own life; Terry comes to terms with his revelations, and continues in being Batman. With a new sense of purpose, Terry plans to propose to Dana, while continuing his life of crimefighting.
Whether Bruce was the genetic father of Matt McGinnis as well was not clearly established in-story, since nothing was stated as to the longevity of the alterations made to Warren McGinnis's DNA; however, the series' creators have said that this is the case. The fact that Matt McGinnis was born with black hair despite both of his biological parents having red hair is also an indicator of Bruce Wayne's dominant DNA.
Batman Beyond spun off an animated series called The Zeta Project, featuring a revamped version of the synthoid Zeta from the Batman Beyond episode "Zeta". Batman would guest-star in the episode "Shadows". The supervillain Stalker was to have appeared in The Zeta Project episode "Taffy Time" but did not make it. The second-season episode "Ro's Gift" has an appearance made by the Brain Trust from the Batman Beyond episode "Mind Games". Terry McGinnis/Batman was originally slated to appear in this episode as well, but was cut since Bruce Timm and company were working on Justice League.
Released on August 31, 1999, the soundtrack to Batman Beyond features many of the same composers who worked on the previous animated Batman shows. The music style is more industrial, to tie in with the show's futuristic cyberpunk style genre.
In 2000, Burger King had Batman Beyond toys in their kids' meals.
A direct-to-video feature film, Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker, was released on December 12, 2000. The original release was censored for elements of violence and death, though a second, uncensored version was later released.
Among the live-action films proposed between the critical failure of Batman & Robin and the reboot of the Batman franchise was a live-action Batman Beyond feature, to be written by Paul Dini. In August 2000, Warner Bros. announced that it was developing a live action film adaptation of the TV series Batman Beyond with Boaz Yakin attached to co-write and direct. The TV series' creators, Dini and Alan Burnett, were hired to write a screenplay for the feature film, with author Neal Stephenson consulting the duo. By July 2001, a first draft was turned in to the studio, and the writers were waiting to see if a rewrite would be needed. The studio, also exploring other takes of Batman in development, eventually placed Batman Beyond on hold in August 2001. Robbie Amell (who portrayed Ronnie Raymond/Firestorm on The CW's The Flash) has talk about pitching his ideal Batman Beyond movie.
A "Batman of the Future" character pack featuring the Terry McGinnis Batman with all its trademark gadgets (such as the flying suit and the ability to turn invisible), other Batman Beyond era characters were revealed to be PS3/PS4 exclusive DLC for Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham.
In April 2014, a Batman Beyond short by Darwyn Cooke premiered at WonderCon. The short, which saw Will Friedle and Kevin Conroy reprise their roles from the show, sees Batman (Terry McGinnis) battle a Batman android in the Batcave, resembling the design from The New Batman Adventures, with help from the elderly Bruce Wayne and the Batmobile. Once defeated, Batman and Bruce look out to see and prepare to fight seven additional invading androids resembling the designs from Beware the Batman, The Batman, Batman: The Brave and the Bold, The Dark Knight Returns, Batman (1989 film), Batman (TV series), and the original design by Bill Finger.
In Teen Titans Go! episode "Sandwich Thief", Robin travels to the future to interrogate Nightwing. In his future self's apartment, a poster of the Batman Beyond Batman can be seen, indicating that Nightwing admires this incarnation of Batman.
Some episodes of the series were released on VHS from 1999-2000, including the series' premiere (Batman Beyond: The Movie), and select episodes as five VHS volumes containing three episodes per tape (same contents as the individual DVD volume releases, see below), and direct-to-video film Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker (edited version).
While the idea of Batman Beyond seemed as if it was "not a proper continuation of the legacy of the Dark Knight", it gathered acclaim after its release. The show was nominated for four Daytime Emmy Awards, two of which it won in 2001 for Outstanding Special Class Animated Program and Outstanding Music Direction and Composition. In addition, the show was nominated for five Annie Awards and won two of those nominations in 1999 and 2001. In 2009, IGN.com named Batman Beyond the 40th best animated television series of all time. Less favorable comments came from animation producer Greg Weisman saying that while the series was well made, it felt more like a Spider-Man series and less like Batman.