Should shows like Batman: The Animated Series be considered sci-fi?
So I was reading SyFy’s website and stumbled upon a Top 25 Greatest Science-Fiction television shows. The article lists everything in alphabetical order, so don’t get too twisted up about where something falls. Reading this article though, I saw one show on here that I was absolutely surprised to see. One show that made me ask, “what qualifies as science fiction?” This question arose because at the top of the list is none other than Batman: The Animated Series. The early ’90s iconic Batman cartoon that most Millenials grew up loving. Even the non-comic fans.
Now before we get any farther, yes, this is an old article admittedly. It was written last year but I just found it a few days ago and it made me think. So here we are.
The series in question gave us Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamil as arguably the two best iterations of Batman and Joker respectively. It was a master-class in music, mood, and character writing. There are few series as well put together, polished and time tested as Batman: The Animated Series. Yet, I would argue it doesn’t meet the criteria to be a “science fiction” show.
Yes, the series does include elements of science fiction into the series. From all the gadgets, vehicles, and rogue gallery weapons, it’s clearly ladled with heaps of science fiction inspiration. It also has several romances in the series as well, with Bruce Wayne/Batman and Selina Kyle/Catwoman. Not to mention the subtle moments with Dick Grayson and Barbara Gordon in the second series, The New Adventures of Batman and Robin. So does Batman: The Animated Series and it’s sequel series constitutes as romance?
No. Even if it does have elements in it.
The proper category would fall under the superhero genre, as that’s what Batman is. He’s a crime fighter who wears a fancy, over the top outfit. He’s a superhero. Yet, if you’re so hell-bent on re-categorizing anything that’s from the superhero genre, then the show’s actual category wouldn’t be science fiction but noir.
Noir is essentially a genre of crime stories that deal with a level of cynicism and moral ambiguity. While Batman the character is often upbeat and some episodes genuinely end with a positive tone (Beware the Gray Ghost for example), most episodes end with the villains still being villains and Batman stuck in a never-ending cycle of violence and pain.
So no, Batman: The Animated Series or any Batman series should ever be considered science fiction. It can, however, be considered a masterpiece in television making. So go watch it in between your viewings all the Star Trek goodness that’s out there.