The animated series revolutionized so much of Batman’s lore and so it is worth the time to take a look at the best that the opening season offered:
5. On Leather Wings
This was the pilot episode which established the setting. Batman had his first run-in with the police, and we witnessed his skills in action for the first time here. This was the first time audiences heard Kevin Conroy’s voice as Bruce Wayne.
4. Joker’s Favor
Featuring the voice acting of Mark Hamill as Joker, the episode was notable for two reasons:
Firstly, it demonstrated how sinister Joker could be. He spends the episode terrorizing a man for years with threats against his family for no real reason, then blackmails him into helping plant bombs. Joker meant business.
Also, Harley Quinn made her debut here. Her costume design and personality were instantly likeable and the reception to her was extremely positive.
3. Appointment In Crime Alley
In this episode, Batman attempts to prevent the destruction of a poor neighborhood. Though he mostly succeeds, he shockingly fails to connect the wealthy schemer behind the illegal demolition to the crime itself. This was notable for being one of the only defeats Batman suffers in the season. Heroes don’t always win. This was a devastating message to send to young audiences, but it rang true.
2. Dreams Of Darkness
The season finale begins with Batman locked up in Arkham Asylum and pronounced insane. While making his escape and catching Scarecrow, we see Bruce Wayne’s worst fears manifest themselves; we watch as he loses his parents, and we see how deeply the villains have affected him psychologically. Batman does win in the end, but not before being put through a rigorous mental torture that gave audiences a clearer idea of just who the man beneath the cowl was.
1. Heart Of Ice
Last but certainly not least, the most memorable episode in the opening season explored Mr. Freeze’s origins. We see Victor Fries go from an ordinary scientist to an emotionless vehicle of vengeance when his wife is killed by his boss simply to reduce company spending on her treatment. The audience comes to understand Victor as a person and as such even when he becomes a villain the audience is able to relate to his plight. When he is locked up at the end of the episode, it is not triumph that is felt, but sympathy.
Plus, Batman beats Mr. Freeze with a thermos of hot soup that Alfred made him. If that’s not worthy of the number one spot, then what is?