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The Gritty Animated Series Everyone's Binging On HBO Max

Sometimes we get excited when a streaming service releases some new, exclusive, 4K UHD movie or series. Just as exciting, is when we discover we have access to the full back catalog of one of the greatest shows ever created. HBO Max subscribers have had a lot of luck with that lately, especially when it comes to DC Comics properties. 

While Wonder Woman 1984 was gearing up for its Christmas 2020 release, we also got access to the classic Lynda Carter Wonder Woman TV Series. Now, as we wait for the next DCEU release, Zack Snyder's cut of Justice League, the HBO Max gods have smiled down upon us again by granting access to the entire run of Batman: The Animated Series. Created by absolute legends Bruce Timm and Paul Dini, Batman: The Animated series is, arguably, the most beloved adaptation of the Dark Knight ever produced — which is no small feat. Adam West still has tons of fans, Michael Keaton's Batman is so popular he's coming back for the future of the DCEU, Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy is a critical darling, and Snyder's take on the character has fans so amped they fought to give Affleck's Batman one more shot.

However, Batman: The Animated Series has something that no other Batman adaptation on this list can boast — a true all-ages appeal. So while many of us snuck into theaters to gain access to the more adult Batman stories, Timm and Dini were busy crafting Batman stories geared for kids without ever talking down to their audience.

What makes Batman: The Animated Series so groundbreaking

There are a lot of nostalgic reasons to watch Batman: The Animated Series. Even if you've never seen an episode, it still feels like essential viewing. One of the most popular characters in the history of DC Comics was actually created specifically for Batman: The Animated Series — Harley Quinn. Margot Robbie recently found enormous popularity playing Harley in Suicide Squad and Birds of Prey, but there's nothing quite like going back and experiencing Arleen Sorkin invent the role in animated episodes like "Joker's Favor" or "Almost Got 'im."

One thing you'll catch Batman fans obsessing over is each actor's respective ability to get Batman's voice right. Think of how many jokes you've heard at the expense of Christian Bale's gravely Batman voice. Meanwhile, Batman: The Animated Series is often considered the go-to for how to get Batman (and Bruce Wayne's) voice right. Kevin Conroy is, for many people, the only true voice of Batman. He maintains that broody grit, while also being able to portray a vocal vulnerability you rarely hear from other Batman actors. Mark Hamill's take on the Joker in Batman: The Animated Series is equally beloved. Both actors continued to portray these characters long after the first animated series drew to a close.

And that's the other thing HBO Max has done here — not only do we have Batman: The Animated Series, but we also get its futuristic spin-off Batman Beyond, which features one of the grimmest Batman stories ever told: Return of the Joker. The only thing that's still missing from HBO Max is the Batman Beyond spin-off series, The Zeta Project. Maybe if we all gorge ourselves on classic Batman: The Animated Series episodes, we'll get that, too!

Batman: The Animated Series and Batman Beyond are available to stream on HBO Max now.