The stars discussed the Emmy-winning "Eggbaby" episode, which characters got "cartoon intimate," Robert Pattinson as Batman, and more.
“He is…” Silence. “He is…” Silence. “He is…” More silence.
No one from the Batman Beyond anniversary panel could figure out what the festivities’ moderator was talking about when they assembled on stage. Definitely not funny guy Will Friedle, star of Boy Meets World and the voice of the series’ Terry McGinnis. No one until Andrea Romano, the show’s casting director, pieced it together.
So, when the host started again with “He is,” she said. “Vengeance.”
“The night,” she said.
“Batman,” she said, echoing one of Kevin Conroy‘s most iconic quotes as the voice of Batman in animated form.
Conroy, Friedle, and Romano joined Batman Beyond alums Lauren Tom (the voice of Dana Tan), Alan Burnett (producer), and James Tucker (director) on stage at the Javitz Center for New York Comic Con to mark the 20th anniversary of the Emmy-winning animated superhero series that first aired for three seasons starting in 1999. Together, they reminisced about making the acclaimed series, mused about the idea of a Batman Beyond reboot in the age of reboots, previewed what’s coming on the limited edition remastered Blu-ray set, and shared thoughts on Robert Pattinson’s casting as the Caped Crusader in Matt Reeves’ live-action The Batman.
That last part, to be fair, was brief. “I glitter in the sunlight,” Friedle joked.
Producer Bruce Timm wasn’t in attendance but was there in spirit.
The presentation of events began with a clip from a roundtable filmed for the Blu-ray bonus materials, featuring Timm recalling the origins of Batman Beyond. It involved a meeting with an executive at Warner Bros. Television who proposed the idea of doing a show about a younger Batman, the reason being they needed kids to watch the show to grow the ratings.
“I don’t want to throw out all this continuity. We had a Batman show and the Superman show, we’re trying to tie them all together,” Timm said. “So, maybe if Bruce Wayne gets too old to be Batman and he has to bring in a younger guy to be Batman.”
That idea was an instant hit. “We talked a little bit about it, we were making it up in the room, and then we’re getting ready to leave and I say, ‘So, I guess we’ll develop it and reconvene and we’ll pitch it to you,'” Timm continued. “He goes, ‘Oh no, you’ve got a green light. I want that show for next fall.'”
Thus began the story of Terry, a teen from the futuristic Neo-Gotham of 2039 who’s recruited by an older Batman to pick up his mantle and fight crime after Bruce breaks his personal vow to never threaten criminals by using a gun.
“What’s shown in that first episode is so great,” Conroy said, “which is he still has the passion, the need to help people, the desire to fight evil, and he’s in the middle of a fight and he grabs a gun and he’s ready to shoot the gun and he looks at it and he reminds us, if I need this, then I’m not worth it anymore. It’s not worth it. I am too weak. And that’s when he realizes he has to throw in the towel. For me, that was the guiding force.”
The Emmy-winning episode
“The Eggbaby” was Tucker’s first time directing an episode for Batman Beyond, which is why he was so surprised, A, it was being submitted for Emmy consideration and, B, it eventually won an Emmy.
“It was such an unusual script that didn’t really suit the tone of the show up to that point,” Tucker recalled. “I got a promotion as a director and they gave me this script and I was like, ‘You’re punching me, right?'” he added. “This isn’t the show and I kept thinking, ‘What are you doing to me?'”
The episode featured Terry taking his homework to work with him. He has tasked with looking after a baby simulator for a class assignment, so he had to keep it alive while patrolling the streets as Batman. As a lover of “camp” and “weird humor,” Tucker, even though he exclaimed he “didn’t know what the Hell” he was doing at the time, “leaned into it and made it as goofy and silly” as he could. It paid off.
“It was just fun and I think, especially, at that time in the series it was getting darker and darker,” Friedle added. “… To then just throw in an episode like ‘Eggbaby’ I thought was a great way to break it up.”
An adult cartoon series
“It’s amazing we got to 52 episodes in this show. There are so many adult things,” Burnett mentioned.
“Out of the Past” is Tucker’s favorite episode because Batman kisses Talia Al Ghul. “We think that’s all they did,” he joked.
Friedle continued the “adult” conversations by asking the panel whether Terry and Dana ever spent the night together. “They definitely set it up that something happened, but I didn’t know if they were ‘cartoon intimate,'” he joked.
A lot of “ums” and “uhs” came from Tucker, but Burnett eventually said, “Sure.” Though, he added, “I think Bruce would say they didn’t spend the night together.”
“I assumed they were bonking everyone,” Tucker said. “We never made these shows for kids. Yeah, kids were watching. The discussions we were having amongst ourselves were not kid-friendly.”
In the age of TV reboots and sequels, which already claimed Young Justice for more seasons, a fan broached the topic of a Batman Beyond reboot during a fan Q&A and if anyone would want that.
“I would love to see somebody else do the series and put their new spin on it,” Burnett said of that potential. “That’s what I would love to see ‘cause I’ve said I’ve done what I’ve done and I would be continuing on. We lost a season in the end and I had some ideas we wanted to work on, but to start it all over again? I would like to see somebody else start it over again.”
That prompted someone from the audience to shout, “Batman Beyond movie!” Burnett simply said, “There was talk.”
Conroy will now appear in live-action form as Batman for The CW’s Crisis on Infinite Earths crossover for the Arrow-verse on TV, along with many other veterans from DC’s history of TV and movie adaptations. Conroy didn’t say much — in fact, he didn’t say anything at all — but he did say, this time to a different fan amid the Q&A, that he would love to see Mark Hamill play a live-action Joker in real life. Hamill voiced the Joker in animated form for years, notably in Batman: The Animated Series, which also featured Conroy’s voice as Batman. Fans can still dream.
Batman Beyond: The Complete Series Deluxe Limited Edition set, meanwhile, will arrive on Oct. 29 after first dropping on digital platforms Oct. 15.