Batman: The Brave and the Bold is at times a very silly show. I grew up on Batman: The Animated Series, a noir, darkly-styled take and about as far from this new version as you can get. So when my son and I first started watching Brave and the Bold, which gave us things like Jungle Batman and a rather bizarre musical episode, I was … skeptical.
My first impression of Super Hero Squad was even worse. Basically, it looked like a show designed to sell little kid toys. The characters were literally designed based on Hasbro’s squat, stubby DC superhero line of toys. Sure, 90% of kids’ programming exists to sell toys, but this was just over-the-top childish.
Well, I’ve changed my mind about both shows. The last episode of Superhero Squad quoted Red Dwarf and included a shout-out to Douglas Adams, when the Scarlett Witch arrives at the end of the universe and says, “Huh. I thought there’d at least be a restaurant or something.” And then of course you had the Silver Surfer’s line, “It felt like millions of fanboys crying out in dismay at the redesign of a beloved character…”
I’m a sucker for self-awareness, for shows that know exactly what they are and embrace it. Silly or no, that episode won me over.
As for Batman: The Brave and the Bold, they changed my mind too. Partly by showing an episode which had Batman, Weird Al, and Scooby Doo all together (no lie), but primarily by presenting one of the most awesome superhero characters ever: Aquaman.
What do you do with Aquaman? He swims around, talks to fish, rules Atlantis … how do you work that into Batman? The mere idea is outrageous!
They did it by embracing the silly, making Aquaman a completely over-the-top, self-aggrandizing hero. He writes and sells books about his adventures. He sings rousing songs to motivate his compatriots. It is indeed OUTRAGEOUS! (Yes, it’s one of his catch-phrases. Yes, you’ll probably hear me saying it on panels.)
Yet Batman isn’t afraid to go dark. I can think of at least two episodes in which other heroes don’t survive the final battle, which impressed me.
Sadly, both series are ending. Or ended. I’m not sure the exact timeline, but both have been given the axe. As a geek and fan, I felt it was my duty to admit I was wrong about both shows, and to admire the awesomeness that can come about when you embrace the silly.
I leave you now with Aquaman’s Rousing Song of Heroism.