Batman: The Brave and the Bold is an American animated television series based in part on the DC Comics series The Brave and the Bold which features two or more superheroes coming together to solve a crime or foil a super villain. As the title suggests, the cartoon focuses on Batman’s regular “team-ups” with various heroes similar to the most well-known version of the original comic book series. The series premiered on November 14, 2008 on Cartoon Network in the United States, and ended on November 11, 2011.
Each episode of Batman: The Brave and the Bold features the main character (Batman) teaming up with other characters from the DC Universe to thwart villains or to solve crimes. Most episodes have a cold open with an escapade not related to the remainder of the episode. In the first season, the villain was Equinox, who later returned in “Time Out for Vengeance!”; and in the second season, the villain was the alien Starro. During production, the show’s creator said that if a character’s cold open appearance was deemed successful, then it may warrant exploring the character further in a future episode’s main adventure.
The show has no overarching story, instead having most episodes stand alone. The show is lighter in tone than previous Batman series, depicting the Dark Knight as more lighthearted and playful with a “dry, ironic wit.” The show features various references to various depictions of Batman in media, including the 1960s Batman TV series.
While the tone is lighter, the series has touched on the subject of death with such examples as retelling the murder of Thomas Wayne and Martha Wayne at the hands of Joe Chill, the death of the Silver Age Blue Beetle, the assassination of Boston Brand, the death of the first Black Canary, the execution of “Gentleman” Jim Craddock, and the self-sacrifice and death of B’wana Beast and the Doom Patrol. The tone of the series was addressed in the episode “Legends of the Dark Mite!”, when Bat-Mite broke the fourth wall to read out this missive from one of the show’s creators:
Batman’s rich history allows him to be interpreted in a multitude of ways. To be sure, this is a lighter incarnation, but it’s certainly no less valid and true to the character’s roots than the tortured avenger crying out for mommy and daddy.
Show creators have chosen to go with “lesser known” characters. In many instances, the characters are those that were repeatedly teamed with Batman in the 1970s run of the Brave and the Bold comic book, such as Green Arrow, Wildcat, Plastic Man, and even the Joker; thus, the characters have an appearance and feel very akin to their both of their Golden & Silver Age incarnations. While the show has featured major heroes such as the Green Lantern and the Flash, it consistently focuses on the lesser-known individuals to have carried the names, such as Guy Gardner and Jay Garrick, rather than the more popular, better known Hal Jordan or Barry Allen, until Barry appeared in the second-season episode “Requiem for a Scarlet Speedster!” (though this episode centers around Kid Flash and Jay Garrick) while Hal appeared in the first-season episode “The Eyes of Despero!” as well as the third-season episode “The Scorn of Star Sapphire”. In the episode “Bat-Mite Presents: Batman’s Strangest Cases!”, Batman even teamed up with Scooby-Doo and the Mystery, Inc. gang to defeat the Joker and the Penguin in a retelling of the similar crossovers from The New Scooby-Doo Movies.
Additionally, Batman’s alter ego of billionaire playboy Bruce Wayne did not appear as an adult during the series in situations where Batman was unmasked. His face was kept hidden until the season 2 episode “Chill of the Night!” when Batman finally confronts Joe Chill. From this episode onwards, whenever Bruce Wayne appears, his face is no longer silhouetted (as in “The Knights of Tomorrow”).
When Batman: The Brave & The Bold was first announced, a lot of people, myself included, were very cautious about this being made because we had been so use to the darker-in-tone Batman that the Christopher Nolan films had given us, we didn’t think we could take a more lighter Batman series at the time.
But much to everybody’s surprise, not only did Brave & The Bold exceed a lot of our expectations but it was a really solid, really well made animated show.
The series takes a lot of elements from the 60s Batman TV series but also the 70s and 90s Batman series as well and blends it all together into a fun action packed and hilarious series.
The first couple of episodes were solid enough but the episode that changed my tone for the series, as well as most peoples’ was Mayhem Of The Music Meister:
Of course, you add Neil Patrick Harris to anything and it’s going to be gold…well, okay, we’ll just ignore the Smurfs movies. But yeah, the episode was really, really good and a lot of it is because of the great songs and Harris’ performance as the Music Meister, if you’ve ever seen the Buffy The Vampire Slayer musical episode, Once More With Feeling, this is basically this show’s version of that and it’s a friggin’ awesome episode. It’s the episode that turned me on to the series from that point on.
I applaud the show for giving a lot of the lesser known villains more focus because there are a lot of really solid villains in the canon that have yet to get the animated treatment. In fact, the whole series features a lot of characters from the golden and silver era of Batman comics that have barely gotten the animation treatment.
The voice cast, phenomenal, Diedrich Bader is perfectly cast as Batman, you’ve also got a solid cast including Will Friedle, Jeff Bennett, Corey Burton, Grey Delislie, John DiMaggio, Tom Kenny, James Arnold Taylor, along with a really solid guest cast with all these effective voices fitting these characters so well. Once again, Andrea Romano, the casting and voice director, picks the perfect people to cast these roles and it shows on screen.
Batman: The Brave & The Bold is a show that exceeded everybody’s expectations in so many ways, the animation is amazing, the voice cast is amazing, the homages to everything Batman from the series to the comics is great, it’s about as fun and enjoyable entertainment that you could’ve imagined. Definitely give this series a watch.