Redesign Rewind: Bruce Timm & Glen Murakami’s designs for THE NEW BATMAN ADVENTURES

Note: While most fans point to Batman: The Animated Series as the high point of the Dark Knight’s cartoon adventures, I’d put my money on the sequel series The New Batman Adventures which came out two years later. Connected in both continuity and in the principal creators involved, The New Batman Adventures showed Gotham’s finest growing up and expanding its scope. Original character designer and producer Bruce Timm joined forces with art director Glen Murakami to revise the characters for this sequel series, and improved on the already excellent formula . – Chris A.

Note: As seen in the above two drawings of Batman, Timm and Murakami refined what had come before in Batman: The Animated Series by making the character more streamlined and angular, but also by taking the yellow oval off the logo on the chest and changing the two-tone color of the costume to black and gray. The only colorful element of the costume was the utility belt, which itself were changed to be similar to the Batman: Year One designs.

Note: Nightwing is by far my favorite design coming out of The New Batman Adventures. No matter if you’d classify the hairstyle as as slicked-back or a mullet, the now-older Dick Grayson rebels against the colorful duds of his youthful days as Robin in a very minimalistic take on the Nightwing design from the comics.

Note: Tim Drake takes over the mantle of Robin this series, and the dynamic duo of Timm & Murakami give us a Robin that’s a throwback to his ’40s origin but with a darker tinge to it. Instead of red-and-green it’s red-and-black, and making him a diminutive 13 years old also did wonders for the visual dynamic of the character in contrast to the rest of the ensemble.

23 comments on “Redesign Rewind: Bruce Timm & Glen Murakami’s designs for THE NEW BATMAN ADVENTURES
  1. I liked what they did for Nightwing, Robin and I loved Bane’s look, but mostly everyone else was Meh to me. It wasn’t until “Return of the Joker” that I was happy with the Joker redesign. I kind of disliked the overly simplified look, thought the clean lines and slick look helped. Like I loved bruce, Dick, Barbara and Tim. I loved the look of Harley and Ivy out of costume, but in costume not so much.

  2. I still prefer the original Batman design from Batman: The Animated Series. With such a simple color palette, there were far too many times Batman became just a big black block with two white triangles for eyes.

    My ideal show would have combined the original Batman design with this Robin and this Nightwing (though, for more cohesion, I suppose a bit more color or definition would have to be added to these Robins).

  3. I always thought the new batman adventures was a downgrade in design. It was like the original batman animated series but watered down in terms of character design. example, look at how catwoman looked in the batman aeries and then how she kept changing. She was a fully rendered figure and then they made her a black and white stick in the new batman series.

  4. It’s interesting to see the new models alongside the old. The original designs are more lush, have dimension and different types of body language even in the concept art. The new ones are angular, flat, and very same-y, but I suppose there’s an argument to be made for sleekness. As you can tell, I hated these designs with some exceptions: for one, the new Scarecrow is legitimately scary, even if the design doesn’t make a lick of sense. Meanwhile, the Joker is reduced to looking like a stick figure drawing of Freakazoid, and wouldn’t regain any real sense of character until “Batman Beyond” and “Justice League.”

  5. I’ve always preferred the revamped look and feel of this version of the show to the earlier years. I also think the writing was sharper overall than it was in the earlier seasons. One quibble, though: You left out Batgirl. I thought her addition as a regular cast member had a big positive effect on the storytelling, as she gave Bats a different kind of foil/counterpoint than Dick or Tim.

  6. I thought about mentioning Batgirl, but I felt the design itself wasn’t as impressive as the others. I almost posted the Penguin and Scarecrow pieces too.

  7. I think the styling works best for less human characters, catwoman becomes less human, the joker too, etc, etc. It’s much better for Superman, metalo, etc which don’t need the connection with humanity as much as gotham characters do.

  8. Very surprised that so many people disliked The New Batman Adventures, or thought they were a downgrade or “devolution”. I loved them personally, and I’ve always felt that “less is more” applied to comics a lot. I love Batman: TAS, but I thought the newer designs while being more simple were also more dramatic and had more character. I really thought everyone looked better and more interesting and dynamic, and the simplification also lent itself to better movement and action. I especially liked the redesign of Bruce Wayne. The light blue eyes were a nice touch.

    I don’t think more detail and volume is necessarily better, especially in animation. I thought the new show was an improvement in style. The Joker is the only I can agree lost a little something in the redesign. Everyone else was perfect in my opinion.

  9. Totally agree, the New Adventures’ designs were much cleaner, and the overall style was more crisp for pre-HD times. The only thing I didn’t really like was Joker’s lack of red lips, but the beady little eyes made up for it.

  10. I liked how the Nightwing symbol actually looked like a bird in the cartoon. I liked that over the old blue design in the comic. As bad as the movies were I always liked the symbol design from the crappy Clooney movie.

    I just looked up the Nightwing from the Batman and Robin movie to jog my memory. It’s pretty much the design they’re using now!! I guess I wasn’t the only one who liked it.

  11. Absolutely one of the worst Catwoman designs ever. That was the first thing I thought upon seeing this post. It’s funny to see that other people felt the same. I do like the sleeker look of this series as opposed to the former, but I also wish they had added just a little more character to some of the designs. Here’s how I would rate them:

    BtAS Designs vs. TNBA Designs

    Batman- TNBA, for all the changes listed above. Mostly I just prefer the Dark Knight to actually be dark.
    Nightwing- Obviously there’s not a BtAS design to compare this one too. His costume is really great, however I’ll say this: It’s a mullet.
    Robin- TNBA’s version takes it. Robin looks much more natural to me as a child than a young man, and even though he is supposed to be the lighter side of Batman, I’d go with the red & black over the red & green any day. It’s just cooler.
    Batgirl- TNBA color scheme works better for me visually, but I still prefer the grey suit.
    Catwoman- TNBA gave her banana-boobs. Can I use that term on P:R? I mean, surely if we’re allowed to use “crotch-swatch”…
    The Joker- Honestly, I prefer the Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker version seen during the flashbacks. I think it does a solid job of combining the best elements from the other two looks.
    The Penguin- TNBA is much truer to the comics than the other, and therefore my favorite. BtAS made him look a little too Batman Returns-y.
    The Riddler- I really don’t like either design a lot, but the suit is more practical than the tights.
    Mr. Freeze- Once again, I think Batman Beyond’s design beats them both.
    Poison Ivy- Every change that was made for TNBA was a vast improvement for her design.
    The Scarecrow- TNBA version is definitely a lot darker, but personally, I find the BtAS design much creepier. Plus, he looks more like a Scarecrow and less like a zombie preacher.
    The Mad Hatter- TNBA for the win. He’s shorter and has a better color scheme.
    The Ventriloquist and Scarface- Mr. Wesker looks much more pitiful and Scarface more demented in TNBA which successfully adds more depth to the character(s?).
    Killer Croc- If you consider the character’s reason for looking the way he does, his BtAS look makes more sense. After all, he’s not the Lizard.
    Bane- I think I have to go with BtAS. He looks better as a luchador than “the gimp.”
    Baby Doll- One of the more disturbing villains created specifically for the series. Contrary to all other characters, TNBA’s design actually made her look less cartoon-y than BtAS. TNBA’s is better.

    Most other characters that I didn’t list look the same for the most part.

  12. I really like dc animated series,expecially the batman cartoon,i think this design is perfect,i just dislike the joker’s black eyes,i think the yellow eyes from the first serie is better

  13. I always thought that some of these redesigns were hit and miss. For every few characters who was given a great new look, there was always one who suffered, namely characters like The Joker, The Riddler and even to an extent Poison Ivy. One absolutely great, flawless redesign was The Scarecrow. My god, when I first saw him as a child he became my boogeyman and, to this day, gives me the chills.

  14. Chris A.:
    I thought about mentioning Batgirl, but I felt the design itself wasn’t as impressive as the others. I almost posted the Penguin and Scarecrow pieces too.

    But I loved Batgirl’s redesign… The yellow boots/gloves really popped! But then I also might have a bias based on liking Tara Strong’s voice way more than Melissa Gilbert’s.

  15. Yeah, take away the rubber nipples and superfluous details and the Robin costume from B&R isn’t bad.

    That still doesn’t make up for the rest of the film, though.

  16. Nightwing just seems to fit with the clubbing scene… if before he had a full disco thing going, the faux hawk and mullet AND the blue bird symbol just kinda predated the whole Tecktonik thing.

  17. I know a lot of people liked the original designs, but they probably made it sleeker for animation’s sake. Animation is expensive and requires a lot, A LOT of drawings. So, anything to make it easier makes sense. My only real gripe with the newer design was Joker’s loss of red lips, but it wouldn’t match at all with the new style, so I totally understand. Scarecrow was definitely my favorite redesign.

  18. The only thing I missed from the original designs was the quasi-Art Deco meets 30′s sci-fi look of Gotham City itself.

  19. Ironically, I always found myself thinking that this Batman was bulkier than the Batman from BTAS. When looking at it side-by-side, the TAS Batman was actually broader, but this one just seemed… large (the underbite didn’t help). He was there, and he was still kinda badass, but he seemed slightly less intelligent and lacked the complexity that he possessed in TAS to a large degree. I actually found that by Justice League he seemed to slim-down again and regain much of his former coolness (and intelligence).

    That said, Nightwing was pulled off VERY well.

  20. Personally, this is my favorite version of Batman and for the overall look of the show. While I could see how some people think it was a more simplified version, I thought it was sleeker and translated better to all the collectibles that went with it. I can remember the books following suit with this look (particularly Scott McDaniel and then Jim Lee’s Hush series) and moving away from the “oval” design. It was good time time to be Batman fan!

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