For Families, This New HBO Max Show Fixes Batman’s Biggest Flaw — Accessibility
The new pre-school-aged Batman show — Batwheels — does something most Batman shows fail to do — be for kids.
Riddle me this: what’s the best way to introduce your children to Batman?
It’s a very tough question that ultimately begs another one: can the Dark Knight get any…lighter? For parents with younger Bat-fans (Batlings? Bat-Mites?) the truth of the caped crusader is hard to escape; as a franchise, Batman has historically not had a lot of material geared towards pre-school-age kids. Yes, Adam West is okay for grade school, as is the excellent ‘90s series, Batman: The Animated Series. But if you’ve got a 3-year-old, and you’re itching to get them into Batman, there’s only a handful of options, such as the excellent comic book ‘Lil Gotham. And sure, while The Lego Batman Movie and its spin-offs are great, even those skew a little older with their humor and slightly adult references.
In many ways this is Batman’s biggest flaw: Since his comic book debut in 1939, kids of all ages have loved Batman, but, over the years. Batman hasn’t entirely made himself available to all ages. Until now.
Batwheels from Warner Animation is DC’s first pre-school-age Batman show. Per WB Animation, “the series offers young viewers a high-speed, vibrant CGI-animated iteration of the Caped Crusader, following a group of young sentient super-powered vehicles as they defend Gotham City alongside Batman, Robin, and Batgirl. Borrowing from the formula that’s proved so successful with Paramount’s Paw Patrol, Batwheels focuses on leadership, collaboration, and problem-solving, all led by a group of the Batfamily’s vehicles: the Batmobile, Batcycle, Bat-Monster Truck (Buff), Robin’s plane (Redwing), among others.
Of course, Batman is nothing without his rogue’s gallery, and Batwheels offers no shortage of their kind either, complete with their own sentient vehicles, who form a team (that is if they can stop arguing) called The Legion of Zoom. It’s all good fun and the show features voice-acting performances that even adults can appreciate. Ethan Hawke voices Batman himself, and Gina Rodriguez voices Catwoman. Another appreciated element in Batwheels is its attention to inclusivity, not only in terms of the voice actors, but the depictions of the characters on screen in which all ethnicities are represented, allowing every viewer to see themselves represented on screen, be that as a hero or villain.
The series is beautifully animated through computer animation that creates a colorful Gotham City, creative design choices, lighting, and visual depth. It’s a perfect introduction to Gotham and the world of Batman for younger viewers, providing the excitement you’d want from superhero entertainment, the values you’d want your kids to learn, and the winks to Batman lore, including the Batusi from the 1960s Batman show, that makes watching a fun experience for fans of all ages.
The first episode of the series, “The Secret Origin of Batwheels,” a 30-minute special debuted last month on HBO Max and Cartoonito. New episodes are now available on Cartoonito on Cartoon Newtowork and HBO Max. So don’t touch that Bat-dial Bat-fans!
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