Arts & Culture

'Batman: The Animated Series' is finally in high definition, and there's only one flaw

“Batman: The Animated Series” debuted on Fox in 1992. MCREDIT: Warner Bros. Animation
“Batman: The Animated Series” debuted on Fox in 1992. MCREDIT: Warner Bros. Animation

You can almost hear the symphonic blares of bat-brass the moment you get your hands on the “Batman: The Animated Series” deluxe limited edition.

The celebratory occasion? “Batman: The Animated Series,” which has been collected in its entirety before on DVD, has finally arrived in high definition.

This complete collection (109 episodes) of “BTAS” (which debuted on Fox in 1992) is still one of the all-time great achievements in superhero entertainment (animated, live-action or otherwise). The show drafted on the cold winds coming from Tim Burton’s “Batman” and “Batman Returns” live-action films, which influenced “BTAS” producers to make something that kids would love but didn’t have to be just for them. There’s just as much darkness as there is fun here, and that’s the way Batman is supposed to be.

It could be argued that “BTAS” will always be the perfect Batman adaptation in a world where we still occasionally bicker over Christian Bale’s Batman voice and shake our heads realizing Ben Affleck will likely never have his own solo Batman film.

In truth, this could just be a purchase (and not a cheap one - expect to more than $100) strictly for high definition junkies (you know who you are). If you’re a hardcore fan of this series you’ve likely already picked up the collected version on DVD. Do you want to drop a little over a Benjamin for a clearer picture?

But there’s a striking difference in clarity and brightness from those classic episodes in standard definition that you’ve been watching on DVDs or streaming. The high-definition version give you a new set of eyes when watching something you’ve likely seen a million times before.

To note the difference, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment division put a link on YouTube with a side by side comparison of watching “BTAS” in standard or high definition. Be the judge for yourself.

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A digital copy comes with your purchase but know that when you download the digital version to your streaming device of choice, it will be in 480p (standard definition) not the 1080p you’re taking in when you toss one of the Blu-ray discs into a Blu-Ray player. Warner Bros. animation says that is a glitch and that they are working to make sure the digital copy of episodes eventually convert to high definition.

The deluxe limited edition is loaded with extras and bat-goodies. Included are three Funko Pocket POPS (Batman, Harley Quinn and the Joker), as well as various commentaries looking at the creation of “BTAS” from the perspective of producers and writers (Bruce Timm, Paul Dini and more) and voice talent (including the big two of Mark Hamill/the Joker and Kevin Conroy/Batman). The seven lenticular cards featuring moments from “BTAS” are nice enough to frame.

The only complaint to be made in this otherwise gleeful bat-moment is the omission of a 4K version. Warner Bros. and DC Entertainment have been on the forefront of superhero entertainment in 4K, even beating Marvel Studios to the punch in that regard (Marvel Studios caught up, starting with “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2”).

DC has multiple animated films - including one that takes place in the “BTAS” universe, “Batman and Harley Quinn,” as well as “Batman: Gotham by Gaslight” - that received 4K releases. Perhaps it was too large a task to convert over 100 episodes and two animated films (you also get “Batman: Mask of the Phantasm and “Batman & Mr. Freeze: SubZero” with this set) into 4K. But if “BTAS” does eventually get the 4K treatment it’ll feel like a batarang to your wallet if you’ve already purchased this collection.

That seems like a minor gripe for what should be the bat-gift for the upcoming holidays. For now, “BTAS” has never looked better.

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