Batman is a hot commodity for DC Comics. The Man Among Gods remains the greatest tool in DC’s utility belt. Over the years, he has become a proxy for human ingenuity and resiliency. He surmounts the insurmountable, battling gods and men for the benefit of humankind. Pretty great, right?
Fans of the Bat always crave a new movie or cartoon about their favorite knight. TV shows, however, are not on the menu for Bat fans. We have learned that the small screen is not the home of Bruce or his costumed persona. What we get instead are what I like to call “Gothamverse” shows. TV shows about the world Batman exist in, but not starring the guy we all paid to see.
So let’s look at the many times Batman showed up in Batman shows with no Batman.
Birds of Prey only exist because of a Batman.
This is one of the first instances I can remember of a show about Gotham, Batman’s rogues gallery, and even his sidekicks, but not Bats himself. I remembered watching the first episode and being greeted by this intro that gave me hope that Batman would be a part of the show. From what I remember, this is the only instance you ever see that cowl or Cat in the show.
Gotham finally gets a Batman.
This show was the Smallville for Batman, or at least that’s how I interpreted it when it was announced. Following Jim Gordon on his journey to Commish while watching Bruce Wayne grow into the man to do the black cape. What we got was almost exactly that. Five seasons of a pretty decent Batman Anthology series that introduced way too many villains that would be really old once Batmanw was of age. The series ended with a glimpse of what I assume is Batman: Year One. It came off like a cosplayer taking convention photos on a roof.
Joker meets a young Bruce Wayne.
Joker was a smash hit in 2019, following Batman’s greatest rival in a starring role. It turns out you don’t need a Batman for a Joker movie. Or do you? The Clown Prince of Crime is meeting a young Bruce Wayne for some reason.
Titans stared at Batman’s Back a bunch.
Titans was a fun project that never really caught the stride it needed. Like most of these entries, the series was always held back by the idea that Batman exists five feet away from the action, and we can’t see it. The season one finale exemplified that but this introduction of the Dark Knight as a vicious murderer. The preview for the episode got me all goosed up for some crazy Batman action, and to its credit, it delivers on that. But you never really get a good look at Bats, and I can say with all certainty this trailer shows you all the best looks at the guy.
CW Crisis on Infinite Earths Crossover Event Had a Batman
Green Arrow was Batman for the CW for many years. He had his villains, his origin, and his brooding. I assume it was because they couldn’t use Batman, so why not take another billionaire vigilante and merge the two? Maybe Ted Kord wasn’t available either. The Crisis on Infinite Earths crossover event tried to pay some of that goodwill back to fans by introducing the Kingdom Come version of Batman, played by the One And ONLY Batman, Kevin Conroy. He never dons the cowl or talks in that familiar tenor, but it’s Batman.
Batman in the Arrowverse? No.
This entry shows the lengths these CW shows had to sink to have Batman in them. He’s not even in the damn clip, but he is named and dropped as a myth. It isn’t the first time Batman is referenced in the Arrowverse, but this is an egregious callout to an obviously missing character. I mean, they got Kingdom Come to Superman in this crossover and got Brandon Routh to put on the suit. Couldn’t you get Jensen Ackles on set for a day?
Batwoman finds the Batcave.
I debated including the clip of Hush with Bruce Wayne’s face but felt this was a more deserving clip. The Batman suit is on full display in this clip. At least, what they claim is Batman’s suit when it is clearly a Batwoman prototype suit. Notice the Wonder Woman-like breastplate. This show has one of the best Gothamverse explanations for the lack of Batman. He’s gone. That’s it. Oh, and so is Bruce Wayne, but they have nothing to do with each other. *Wink.
A palette cleanser
I know all of that was rough, so here is the greatest DC Comics animated feature ever made—the cinematic opening to the MMO DC Online.