Geoffrey Wiseman

Batman Animated Television for Children

My son has been interested in comic characters about as far back as I can recall, and he's had a particular attraction to Batman, so, although he's not quite six, he's already seen almost all of the Batman animated television that exists. Along the way, I've had the opportunity to refresh my own memory of some of these television shows and watch others I'd never seen, so it seemed worth summarizing.

The Brave and the Bold

Batman: The Brave and the Bold

After looking over the various options, we started with The Brave and The Bold, which I'd never seen. It's very light-hearted Batman fare with a revolving cast of characters (not a cast of revolving characters), adventure and detective stories without too much darkness. It's almost definitely the right one to start with for younger children. If you're older, there are definitely moments in this series that you might find a little too childish, but all in all I enjoyed it.

There are a few bizarre episodes and in particular the third season goes off the rails a little, but I'd still recommend this as a good starting place for children. There are 65 episodes, which could keep you entertained for a while if you don't binge-watch.

This is probably still my son's favorite of the Batman series, and it's the easiest to place in sequence when proposing options for children. Still, for me, it's a little too lighthearted to be my favorite Batman.

(iTunes, Amazon)

Batman Beyond

Batman Beyond

Batman Beyond is a series I enjoyed as an adult; I didn't see all of it, so it was nice to see it again. I had forgotten how much I like Inque, one of the villains, and the art direction is pretty nice throughout. There are 52 episodes, pretty similar to Brave and the Bold.

This is probably the best series to try second with children, although it's a bit of a tossup between this and The Animated Series. I suspected it would be a little lighter than The Animated Series and that was mostly true. There are adult topics -- dating, and so forth -- but that mostly goes over my son's head, and the storylines are mostly not very dark.

(iTunes, Amazon)

Batman: The Animated Series

Batman: The Animated Series

I have fond memories of this show as a teenager; it's still pretty solid, although it's starting to show it's age a little here and there.

My son enjoyed this series quite a bit, and it might have been a close call for first place. There are 85 episodes, which makes this the longest of the series.

It doesn't stray too far into adult themes most of the time, but the characters have murkier motivations and it has some darker elements now and again. In particular, the episode where Robin is kidnapped and brainwashed is probably a little darker than I would have chosen, so that's one to watch out for. It's a good episode, but I might have held that one back from my son for a time when he's a little better able to understand it and process it.

(iTunes, Amazon)

The Batman

The Batman

I wasn't sure what I was going to think about this, and thought briefly about not showing this one to my son, but I ended up really liking it. It was nearly my favorite and certainly well worth watching. The character design threw me off a little at first, but it's very stylish and I ended up being very fond of some of the revisions.

It does have some dark moments, and it's not afraid to be scary, so it's probably the series that I'd watch last when dealing with younger children (that's a judgement call for you to make, based on your own children). There are 65 episodes, the same count as The Brave and the Bold.

(iTunes, Amazon)

Batman Movies

After watching 267 TV episodes of Batman, we branched out into some of the animated movies. We watched:

  • Batman: Mask of the Phantasm
  • Batman & Mr. Freeze: SubZero
  • Batman Beyond: The Return of the Joker
  • Batman: Mystery of the Batwoman
  • Batman: Chase Me

Of that list, the first two really stand out.

There are others, some of which I think are too old for him, others would be fine but we haven't gotten around to.

What Next?

My son was working his way through the second season of Justice League most recently, but has taken a pause on all television watching since he received both the PS4 and Skylanders for Christmas.

He'll probably finish Justice League and Justice League Unlimited when he has another TV phase, but I expect the PS4 to dominate for a while.

We haven't seen:

  • Beware the Batman (2013)
  • Batman vs. Dracula
  • Batman: Gotham Knight
  • Batman/Superman: World's Finest
  • Superman/Batman: Public Enemies
  • Batman: Under the Red Hood
  • Batman: The Dark Knight Returns
  • Batman: Year One
  • Lego Batman: The Movie
  • Superman/Batman Apocalypse

If we get around to a bunch of those, I may post again and update here.

I've done a similar exercise for 'The Avengers'.