Making its debut in January 1999, Batman Beyond was a dark, futuristic spin-off and continuation of fan-favourite Bat-toon, Batman: The Animated Series. The show ran for a total of 52 episodes, spread across three seasons and was accompanied by a feature-length movie.
But of all the 52 episodes of Batman Beyond (and the movie) which stories are the best of the best? Which are worth a watch?
The good news is, the show was pretty damn good – so most episodes are worthy of your time. However, below is a list of the best episodes of the show’s entire run.
Rebirth Part 1 & 2
To fully understand the premise of Batman Beyond you really need to begin with Rebirth Parts 1 & 2 – the show’s series opener. The two-part story explains the reasons as to why Bruce Wayne gave up being Batman and why high-school student, Terry McGinnis takes over the role.
The Inque trilogy – Black Out / Disappearing Inque / Inqueling
Batman Beyond introduces a number of great villains into the Batman mythology and chief amongst them is Inque – a shapeshifting mercenary who proves to be a very credible threat to Terry.
Black Out introduces Inque, while Disappearing Inque sees Inque return with revenge on her mind. The final story in this trilogy, Inqueling sees Inque reunited with her daughter, who is just as unscrupulous as she is.
One of the great things about Batman Beyond is the show’s ability to reference the wider Batman mythology – i.e stories and characters that appeared in other DC Animated Universe (DCAU) cartoons. The best example of this is Meltdown, which sees Victor Fries (aka Mr. Freeze) given the opportunity to start a new life.
Of course, things don’t quite go to plan and Victor soon finds himself walking down a familiar path. The result is a showdown between Batman and Mr. Freeze that brings a definitive conclusion to the DCAU’s best Bat-villain.
A former sound engineer-turned-super villain proves to be a deadly threat to Terry when he uses soundwaves to disrupt and dampen all of the noise in Gotham City. The highlight of this episode is a battle between Batman and the villainous, Shriek, which is played out to almost no background music.
Another great Bat-villain is introduced in Spellbound, this time the mind-altering Spellbinder. Using modified hypnotic technology, Spellbinder leads Batman on a confusing trail as he orchestrates a series of robberies.
Earth Mover is a creepy tale about a young girl, seemingly haunted by a mysterious creature. As the story unfolds it becomes increasingly clear who the creature is, leading to a tale that veers close to X-Files territory.
Batman is framed for murder and soon finds himself on the run from Commissioner Gordon and the entire Gotham City Police Department. But as Batman doesn’t take lives, why does everyone suddenly think he’s a killer?
Out of the Past
Another link to the DCAU, this time with the reappearance of Ra’s and Talia al Ghul – two of the original Batman’s greatest opponents. This episode has a great twist, one very funny line and, as with Meltdown (see above), it is another example of just how good Batman Beyond is when it’s making references to Batman: The Animated Series.
The Call Part 1 & 2
In the two-part story, The Call, Terry is approached by Superman and asked to spy on the Justice League. Superman believes there is a traitor amongst the group and he thinks Batman is his best chance of discovering who that traitor is.
Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker
And finally, no rundown of the best episodes of Batman Beyond would be complete without a mention for the feature length movie, Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker. Not only is Return of the Joker one of the best Batman Beyond stories, it’s one of the best Batman movies of all-time.
As you probably guessed from the title, the movie sees the original Batman’s greatest nemesis return from beyond the grave. And with the Joker back in town (and back from the dead) a dark chapter in the Bat-mythology is unearthed.
Return of the Joker is a must-watch movie.
Oh and top tip, if you plan on watching Return of the Joker (and you should), then hunt down the ‘uncut’ edition. The original, unedited edition doesn’t pull any punches.