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After TMNT: Mutant Mayhem & Spider-Verse, It's Time For An Animated Batman Beyond Movie

2023 has been a banner year for big-budget animation. Not only have newcomers like "The Super Mario Bros. Movie" debuted to massive box office success and warm reviews, but two of the most ambitious animated comic book movies have been released within mere months of each other. "Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse" dazzled with its gorgeous and varied animation, while "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem" wowed with a new art style that simultaneously feels original and fitting to the Turtles. In terms of the pure medium itself, mainstream animation is the freshest that it's been in quite some time — so what could possibly make it even better?

Batman. The answer is Batman. We need a new movie based on "Batman Beyond," the classic 1999 animated series that features a futuristic version of the Dark Knight fighting crime. It has been over 20 years since the show took its bow, yet it endures as the most experimental take on Batman's mythos. A new animated movie based on "Batman Beyond," with the same love and care poured into its animation and narrative as "Spider-Verse" and "TMNT" would be a phenomenon. Not only is it the Batman project fans deserve, but it's also one the DC Universe needs now.

Cinema could do with a new Batman

For about as long as the storied character has been around in comic books, cinema has had a Batman to call its own. From the pulp-filled serials of the 1940s to Adam West's campy iteration in 1966's "Batman" to Robert Pattinson's subversive take on the Caped Crusader in 2022's "The Batman," the hero has been uniquely adapted numerous times. However, no matter how divergent some of these interpretations of Gotham City's protector are, they all have one major thing in common: It's always Bruce Wayne under the mask.

It makes sense — Bruce's incarnation of Batman is the most iconic and recognizable to general audiences. However, it feels like a missed opportunity to not have at least one of the hero's many cinematic projects explore a completely alternate rendition of the character. That's where Terry McGinnis, the lead of "Batman Beyond" could save the day! Terry, the Batman of the future, is cocky, rebellious, and witty. In many ways, he couldn't be more unlike Bruce, which is what makes him a prime candidate for a fresh take on Batman.

If there were any lingering doubts about general audiences being able to handle multiple incarnations of the hero, those worries have been put to rest recently. The "Spider-Verse" movies show Miles Morales to be as deserving of the Spider-Man mantle as Peter Parker, and "Batman Beyond" could achieve this too. In a sea of Bruce Waynes, the world is ready for a Terry McGinnis.

Neo Gotham City would be visually stunning

One of the biggest feats of "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem" and the "Spider-Man: Spider-Verse" movies is how alive they make New York City feel. That upside-down shot of Spidey plummeting down to the neon-tinged buildings below as "What's Up Danger" by Black Caviar and Blackway plays has become nothing short of an iconic moment in animation. Now, imagine the futuristic aesthetic of Neo Gotham City from "Batman Beyond" getting that same sort of treatment on the big screen.

In the original "Batman Beyond," Neo-Gotham is quite the visually striking locale. The setting mixes in the smooth, inky architecture of Gotham City from "Batman: The Animated Series" — an art style colloquially known as "Dark Deco" — with a decidedly cyberpunk-inspired twist. Hands down, it's the most colorful iteration of Gotham that keeps its seedy and noir edge intact.

If a "Batman Beyond" movie gets made, it would already be working off of an incredibly strong visual aesthetic as a foundation. All it needs to do to reach the next level is take notes from the stunning animation and visual flourishes of "Spider-Verse" and "Mutant Mayhem," and it has a rock-solid chance of becoming one of the best-looking comic book movies ever made.

If you're tired of seeing the Joker in Batman movies, say I.

When it comes to having an iconic rogues' gallery, no hero can beat Batman. The Dark Knight routinely goes up against well-established villains that have become pop culture giants. Rarely has there been a Batman movie without a compelling antagonist. There's just one problem — the well of untapped Bat-baddies in cinema is running dry.

To date, various theatrical Batman movies have featured Joker, Two-Face, Poison Ivy, Scarecrow, Mr. Freeze, Ra's al Ghul, the Riddler, and Bane. Heck, some have even shown up in multiple incarnations of the Caped Crusader on film. There are still a few stragglers who have yet to show up. (A live-action Court of Owls movie ... when?) But most of the Caped Crusader's greatest enemies have had their time in the spotlight. Thankfully, Terry McGinnis' Batman has his own line-up of refreshingly original villains waiting in the wings.

If a "Batman Beyond" movie emerges, it's certain to draw upon some of the popular villains that the Batman of the Future has encountered — and there are quite a few good ones to depict. The film could feature Blight, the radioactive green skeleton man with some dark personal ties to Terry. There's also Inque, a shapeshifter with a surprisingly tragic backstory whose powers could lend themselves to some stellar visuals. Shriek, Spellbinder, Curaré — the list goes is endless!

It's old Bruce Wayne done right

In recent years, DC's theatrical efforts have demonstrated the company's ostensible fascination with featuring an older Batman. Ben Affleck's incarnation of the Caped Crusader arrived in "Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice" as a hardened crimefighter who has already been driven to a "The Dark Knight Returns"-esque state of cynicism and violence. "The Flash" reintroduced Michael Keaton's Batman as an even older iteration of the character with similar qualities.

Although it's difficult to comprehend why DC would build its mainline cinematic universe around a version of an iconic character who is past his prime, it's hard to deny that stories focused on an older Batman are compelling. "Batman Beyond" is the best opportunity to do the concept justice. "Batman Beyond" features an aging Batman story that feels much more true to the character than the gun-wielding, hyper-violent version glimpsed in the DCEU. In the original series, it's the risk of nearly crossing his one rule — no killing and no guns (is that two rules?) — that finally convinces an aging Bruce to hang up his cape. From there, he becomes a recluse — ruminating on his legacy until Terry McGinnis inspires hope in him.

More than any other incarnation, "Batman Beyond" focuses on giving a fulfilling end to Bruce's character arc. The property serves as a fascinating meditation on whether a character as flawed and complex as Batman deserves — or possibly can — have a happy ending. Overall, it's the quintessential finale story for the original Batman that is ripe for a theatrical adaptation.