Thursday, December 24, 2015
The Matt Signal Advent Calendar 2015 Day 24: Batman Beyond "Out of the Past"
Season 3, Episode 5, "Out of the Past," 2000
I had a hard time deciding how to wrap up the Advent Calendar this year. I knew I wasn't going to go chronologically by release, and so after some thinking I decided to end with the episode set furthest in the future. Batman Beyond was a series that followed the exploits of Terry McGinnis, a young man who an elderly Bruce Wayne took under his wing to be a new Batman. The series created a new supporting cast and many new villains, rarely going back to the classic rogues. One of the few exceptions was the series finest episode, "Out of the Past," where Talia al Ghul returns and offers Bruce the chance to reclaim his youth.
Much of the episode is pretty deep for a kids cartoon, exploring questions about aging and if its right to reclaim your youth at any cost. We watch Bruce haunted by his lost loves, by his body failing, bu his inability to save a girl from street thugs that he could have easily beaten not too long before. Bruce goes as far as giving in and using the Lazarus Pit before accepting that it's unnatural. Getting to see Bruce and terry fight side by side is one of the series highlights, accompanied by a version of the classic Batman: The Animated Series theme song, played with lots of synthesizer like we imagined music would sound in the future back in the late 90s-early 00s.
I've seen the episode so many times over the years, I don't remember if the big twist at the end of act two, the fact that [SPOILER for a fifteen year old episode] Ra's has had his mind transferred into Talia's body, really shocked me. Knowing the twist, there are tons of clues littered throughout the first half of the episode, and it's cleverly done.
And the final fun facts of this year's Advent Calendar. This episode features a brief cameo by Michael Rosenbaum, his first DC Animated work, but far from his last, as he would go on to voice Ghoul in Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker and have a starring role on Justice League/Justice League Unlimited as The Flash (as well as Deadshot). The episode also begins with the hilarious musical number from a Batman musical Terry brings Bruce to for his birthday. I dare you to watch the episode and not be singing, "A superstitious cowardly lot," under your breath for days. Finally, to keep up the tradition four years running of a post around the holidays featuring his work, this episode was written by the inimitable Paul Dini.
And that's it for this year's Advent Calendar. We hope you've enjoyed reading about some of our favorite episodes of these great cartoons. Have a safe and happy Christmas, for those who celebrate, and we'll be back next week with a couple posts before the New Year.