The popular animated series “Batman Beyond” is being released on Blu-ray for its 20th anniversary.
The announcement came July 18 during San Diego Comic-Con International, as cast members and some of the show’s creative forces gathered to celebrate the anniversary.
The series, a spinoff of “Batman: The Animated Series,” debuted in January 1999 and ran for 52 episodes and a direct-to-video movie. The show, set in the future, dealt with an elderly Bruce Wayne (voiced by Kevin Conroy) recruiting teenager Terry McGinnis (Will Friedle) to take up the mantle of Batman.
Writer Bob Goodman said the series came about as a result of a mandate from the WB Network to focus on younger characters, and to portray Batman as a high schooler. Producer Bruce Timm suggested setting the show in the future timeline of “Batman: The Animated Series.” As a result, the show wasn’t based on any particular Batman storyline from the comic books.
“About 80% of it we made up out of whole cloth,” Goodman said. “We just developed it based upon what we knew of these characters.”
Friedle said he was asked to audition because Timm’s wife was a fan of his work on the ABC sitcom “Boy Meets World.”
Friedle said he didn’t expect to get the role because at the time he hadn’t done voiceover work before.
“It’s the equivalent of having never been in a movie before, and now you’re starring in a Steven Spielberg movie,” said Friedle, who has gone on to enjoy a lucrative voiceover career with roles such as Lion-O in the “Thundercats” reboot, and Bumblebee in “Transformers: Robots in Disguise.”
Casting director Andrea Romano said Friedle won the part after the finalists were tested alongside veteran voice actor Conroy, who had been playing Batman and Bruce Wayne on “Batman: The Animated Series” since the early 1990s.
“They had that dynamic,” Romano said.
Conroy said the show’s futuristic setting gave him a good perspective on how to play the older version of Bruce.
“He wasn’t a doddering old man,” Conroy said. “They had him become a powerful lion in winter.”
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Warner Bros. Home Entertainment will release the show digitally Oct. 15, with the Blu-ray boxed set to follow on Oct. 29.
Warner has remastered 41 episodes from their original elements, with the remaining episodes upscaled to HD. The Blu-ray will also include a newly remastered copy of the direct-to-video movie Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker.
The six-disc Batman Beyond: The Complete Animated Series — Limited Edition includes 15 bonus featurettes, including two new retrospectives: “Nostalgic Tomorrow,” a gathering of “Batman Beyond” production talent and cast; and “Knight Immortal,” an 80th anniversary celebration of the Batman character. Four episodes include audio commentary from producer Bruce Timm and select members of the production team.
The limited-edition Blu-ray, which will be individually numbered with a run of 50,000, will also include an exclusive chrome Funko Pop and lenticular art cards.