17 July 2008

Superheroes on Screen - Retrospective 1992

Though the givings were few, they were of lasting quality back in


In the summer of 1992, after 3 long years, Batman was back. Having taken down the Joker in 1989, Batman needed a worthy adversary to fight in Batman Returns. He got two. Tim Burton transformed the gentlemanly tuxedo wearing Penguin into a grotesque flippered sewer dwelling mutant and Catwoman was imagined as an introverted woman liberated. The movie has some similarities to Burton's Nightmare Before Christmas as the costumed trio converge during Christmas celebrations. The movie was fairly well reviewed, but took a lot of parents by surprise with its gothic mood. The movie went on to earn $163 million - about $90 million less than the first installment. More significantly, the pendulum was swung to the other extreme for the next sequel, Schumachers Batman Forever, which replaced grotesque and dark with neon and nipples and kept the mupltiple villains approach.

The year's greater contribution to Batman was with the Emmy award winning Batman: The Animated Series which ran for 109 episodes and spawned spin-off series featuring Superman, The Justice League, and Batman Beyond. The series, inspired by the music and style of 1989's Batman set The Detective in a Gothic, but timeless Gotham City. The series gained much praise for its sympathetic reimaginings of many of the villains including Mr. Freeze, The Mad Hatter, and The Clock King and created new fan-favorite Harley Quinn.

Also debutting in 1992 was the X-Men Animated Series which faithfully adapted many of the comic book series best and most epic tales through its 76 episodes. The team consisted of Cyclops, Wolverine, Rogue, Storm, Beast, Gambit, Jubilee, Jean Grey, and Professor X though many other favorite mutants appeared in an episode or two including Colossus, Nightcrawler, Emma Frost, Forge, Havok, Polaris, Cannonball, Banshee, Iceman, Archangel, Longshot, Dazzler, Sunfire, Psylocke, Cable, and Bishop. Between Batman and X-Men, my childhood need for Saturday morning cartoons was well met.

And that, my friends was what 1992 graced us with.

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