Batman is the world’s most popular comic book superhero. DC has announced it will publish a weekly Batman book in 2014, which it expects to have no problem selling. The announcement that Ben Affleck will play Batman in a movie caused the Internet to explode because it still remembers his “Daredevil.” Bats will celebrate his 75th anniversary in 2014 and is just as beloved as he’s ever been.
So how is it that Cartoon Network’s Beware the Batmanhas vanished from the airwaves just 11 episodes into its season order of 26? It took a typical three-week break for reruns and had a new episode scheduled for Saturday. Now it has vanished and Cartoon Network isn’t even airing a rerun. Rather it will fill the timeslot with another episode of Teen Titans Go!
Pushed for answers by IGN, Cartoon Network simply said Beware The Batman is “no longer on our air.” It doesn’t take the World’s Greatest Detective to figure out this means one season and done. For superhero fans, this is more familiar than a “Bruce Wayne Held Hostage” story. Last season at this same time, we were getting terse statements from Cartoon Network about the fates of Young Justice and Green Lantern: The Animated Series. Both of those shows returned only to see their final episodes burned off.
Those series were beloved by diehard comic fans, but didn’t get the ratings Cartoon Network could reap from an Adventure Time rerun. But, they also featured heroes such Ms. Martian and Green Lantern Kilowog. You can see how they might struggle to find a wider audience. This is the Batman. Riddle me this: how did a show featuring a pop culture icon go so wrong?
I was worried about this when I heard the initial details. This CGI take on the Caped Crusader was so different many viewers wouldn’t have known it was a Batman cartoon without the title. His sidekick is little known character Katana instead of Robin. Alfred, instead of being the father figure that brings normalcy to Bruce Wayne’s life, begins the show fighting alongside him.
Slamming home a final dose of fixing what isn’t broken, Beware doesn’t use any of Batman’s traditional villains. It focused on lesser known (and by lesser known, I mean unknown to all but the most dedicated readers) villains such as Anarky and Professor Pyg. As The Joker often tells Batman, the two need each other. That’s probably truer than anyone at Cartoon Network realized.
But this failure may also prove that the viewing trends of young kids have shifted from traditional superhero fare. Teen Titans Go! is DC Nation’s first breakout hit. It has more in common with Adventure Time than any of the other DC series. It’s essentially a sitcom in which crimefighting is portrayed like a chore. It’s something the Titans do, but the plots don’t give it any more weight than doing the laundry.
While Batman is still popular, his grim and gritty personality isn’t suited for a TV climate dominated by Spongebob and the Ice King. Is it time for a Plastic Man animated series?