I’m not a comic book geek. Not hating or judging, I totally get it — you see how I am about movies — that’s just not my niche. So I’m not hugely precious about comic book properties, which is why I think this abandoned concept for a “Batman in High School” cartoon series, Gotham High, is hilarious.
We all go through incredible changes as teenagers: growth spurts, bad skin, a sudden insatiable need to uphold justice and avenge your murdered parents…. Well, that is if you’re Bruce Wayne.
As if being a freshman at Gotham High wasn’t tough enough, Bruce’s insomnia and technological fascinations are taking their toll. Instead of spending his time studying, he has begun to obsess over an emerging personality trait: Batman. But under the watchful eye of his guardian and steward, Alfred Pennyworth, Bruce is forced to put his intelligence to good use: graduating high school. But given his classmates, can Bruce survive Gotham High?
There’s some artwork on the site showing character designs and the overall art style that the animation would have had. The commentors are split between loving it and clutching madly at their pearls over this abomination.
Let me just say that despite not being a major comic aficionado, I watched the 90s animated series and I’ve absorbed enough of the Batmythology from the culture to know that this idea makes no sense at all. I think that’s what makes it awesome.
Someone accused them of essentially pitching a real version of Watchmen Babies, which I think is a fairly spot-on observation (although Batman is not, in general, quite so cynical as Watchmen). Whether it’s a compliment or critique, however, depends on your point of view.
My point of view, in turn, depends on the tone. If they were going to play this straight, a la Batman: TAS or Batman Beyond, no way it would ever fly. But if they did this fairly tongue-in-cheek, recognizing and playing with the inherent absurdity of it all, I think it could have been great. I said I watched the original animated series — I also grew up with 60s Adam West Batman, and loved it.
I mean, this is just rife for satire for your typical high school drama. If the writing was of a caliber akin to, say, Clone High (of which this is obviously a close cousin), I think this could have been something really special. Poison Ivy as the slutty cheerleader whose ex-boyfriends have a tendency not to come back to school after the break-up. Joker being all emo and taking everything seriously. And a very special episode where star wrestler Bane struggles with steroid abuse.
Don’t get me wrong, this would be hard to get right. Let too many network executives give it the Bad Touch in its bathing suit area, and it could have gone down as the biggest trainwreck in modern animation history. But if they’d managed to ride the razor’s edge, between reverence for the source material and irreverence for the format, it might just have been gleefully crazy enough to work.