Batman: The Animated Series Blu-Ray Review: The Box Set We Deserve
What is there to say about Batman: The Animated Series that we haven’t been repeating to ourselves and our friends over the last two decades? It’s the cartoon that defined a generation of comic book fans and introduced us to the likes of Mark Hamill’s Joker, a brand new character in Harley Quinn, and an animation style that fit its subject so perfectly that no live-action version of the Dark Knight could possibly compete.
Every fan of Batman: The Animated Series knows all of this, though, and chances are they have the series on DVD–or have been binging it on the DC Universe streaming service. With that in mind, you might be wondering why Warner Bros. Home Entertainment is releasing the complete series on Blu-ray. Could it possibly be worth it to go out of your way to pick up this set yet again?
In a word: absolutely. The new Batman: The Complete Animated Series Deluxe Limited Edition Blu-ray set is something you’re going to want if you’re a fan of the classic cartoon. While this may be the show’s first time being released on Blu-ray, Warner Bros. didn’t simply dump the episodes onto a new format in hopes of getting Batfans to double dip.
Instead, all 109 episodes of the show (Batman: The Animated Series and The New Batman Adventures) have been remastered in high definition and have never looked better. The colors in the episodes come to life like never before and are bound to look fantastic on your giant TVs. It’s not just the colors that pop, though. The picture has also been cleaned up, giving a much sharper and less grainy look at the Dark Knight’s animated adventures.
As you can see in the images above, the remastering of the series is no small feat. As great as Batman: TAS is, the previous DVD and digital releases have never looked very good. The picture has been blurry with dull colors for far too long. This is the treatment the show deserves.
It’s not just the remastered episodes you get, though. The set also comes with Blu-ray copies of Batman: Mask of the Phantasm and Batman & Mr. Freeze: Sub-Zero, the two feature-length continuations of the show. As with the TV series, these movies look great, though they were never in as bad a shape as the show.
As great as all these high-definition transfers are, though, they’re not the main event of this particular set. Instead, it’s the brand new special features that are included. For your viewing pleasure are a handful of episode commentaries, several featurettes, and most important, a brand-new documentary.
The Heart of Batman runs over an hour in length and talks to dozens of those involved with the show, touching on just about every aspect of what made it so good. GameSpot previously debuted a clip that focused on the villains the series created and developed. If that clip is the kind of thing that interests you, you cannot miss the full documentary.
There’s also some collectibles included in the set, for those who like physical special features. Each copy comes with a series of lenticular cards, along with three exclusive mini Funko Pop vinyl figures–Batman, The Joker, and Harley Quinn. They’re by no means necessary and wouldn’t be enough to sell this set on their own. As an added bonus, though, it’s pretty nice.
So what’s not so good? The only real issue with the set comes in the digital copies. When I first redeemed the digital code, I was given the four standard definition volumes that have been previously released. They didn’t look great and Mask of the Phantasm and Sub-Zero weren’t included. That was a major disappointment. Thankfully, Vudu quickly rectified the problem a couple of days later, converting my copies to HDX and crediting the films to my account. Now I have access to wonderful-looking copies of the show and movies.
Still, the digital copies include none of the special features, as far as I can tell. That means The Heart of Batman, along with episode commentaries and featurettes, are disc-only. Given that most new releases include the special features with the digital copies, this is a letdown.
Honestly, though, that shouldn’t be enough to dissuade you from picking up this set. There’s so much to dig through and Batman: The Animated Series has truly never been more pleasing to the eye. If you’re a fan of the cartoon, or simply want to watch it for the first time, it’s worth it to make sure you lay your eyes on the best possible version of it.
Batman: The Complete Animated Series Deluxe Limited Edition is available now.