Why Beware the Batman showcases Gotham's lesser known supervillains

So far, there's no Joker in Beware the Batman. Villains like Two-Face, Poison Ivy, the Penguin, and Killer Croc are all noticeably absent from Cartoon Network's CG take on the Dark Knight. That's because the writers are using Batman's more obscure rogues to tell a specific story about Bruce Wayne's psychology.

While talking to members of the press during Comic-Con, Beware the Batman writer Mitch Watson explained that the villains match up to certain stories that the writers want to tell about the duality between Bruce Wayne and Batman, and his relationship with Alfred and Katana:

The way we looked at it was, we had certain stories we wanted to tell with Bruce Wayne/Batman and Katana and Alfred. As you find out in the second episode, Katana is Alfred's goddaughter, and Alfred's former partner was her father, and then the partner died under some mysterious circumstances. We'll find out more about that later. So all the villains we chose, we wanted to highlight certain emotional stuff that's going on with the characters.

So Magpie's a good example. We wanted to portray Bruce Wayne and Batman as these guys who are on a sort of teeter-totter kind of thing, that one needs the other and without one the other can't survive. So we said, okay, basically we'll retrofit. We took the Magpie character and said, "Let's make her a woman who suffers from the same sort of thing, except that she chose to deal with it a different way." She tried to get rid of the bad, and the bad became so strong it overtook her. So Batman meets her and goes up against her and sees her. He sees his own duality in his own nature. And it tells him that he can't hide one side from the other. And that's a struggle that's going to come up again later in the show.

So every villain…it's the same thing. He illustrates a different aspect of Batman's personality. So that's how we chose them. And when we went through the villains, if we found a villain that fit, great. But DC also gave us the license, like with Magpie, to take a character that we liked but didn't exactly fit, and alter her backstory and persona. Stuff like that.

But even though it's not the Joker, Batman will be getting an arch-nemesis for the season:

That role pretty much falls to Anarky. He's introduced in Episode Three. All the villains reappear throughout the season. They come back. But I think he's the most. And the way the series is broken up, there's 26 episodes and it's sort of broken in half. Although the episodes are standalone, character-wise we're telling a particular kind of story in the first half and a different type of story in the second half. But Anarky, he's throughout the whole thing and he's a catalyst significantly in the back half of the season in the stuff that goes on. We've always referred to him as Batman's Moriarty, and that's how we're portraying him in the show.

Watson also says that we will see a "Top Five" villain later in the season, because that character's story happened to perfectly match a particular portion of Bruce Wayne's story. In the meantime, we'll continue to see tons of characters from the DC Universe popping up around Gotham City:

Yeah, there's a couple of reasons for that. One was that DC gave us free license to pretty much use anybody we wanted to; we just had to run it by them first, which is why you see Michael Holt in that episode, Simon Stagg. Some of those characters will come back. Some of them won't. So that's one of the reasons. Another reason is purely logistical and legal kind of stuff. There's a whole other thing you have to go through when you create brand new characters in-universe. We have; we did do that. But there's also, Glen and I are both fans of the comic books and we sort of wanted to put those little Easter eggs here and there for people, because it's just one more way for people to feel like, "Hey, these guys care. They appreciate and respect the world." Which we do. But I also, prior to this, I worked on this thing, Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated, which was sort of our fan letter to Hanna-Barbera in many respects. We had Easter eggs; every show had, like, ten of them. And so we wanted to take that same tack with this and use characters that people are familiar with, but then show them in a different way.

With characters like Katana and Rex Mason running around, might we also see the Outsiders team up in Beware the Batman? Watson offered this hint:

I am not allowed to say whether that's true or not. I'll just say that you're going in the right direction, but that's all I'm allowed to say.

But we will definitely see more of Tara Strong's Barbara Gordon, although Watson wouldn't say whether she dons the cowl any time soon:

Her character to me is actually the funnest character. You're going to see a change throughout her. Something will happen to her. I can't say what it's going to be.

The funny thing about the Tara thing was we auditioned a lot of people, probably about 300 actresses for the part. Then we narrowed it down to ten or 20, something like that, and then we listened to them blind. We didn't know who was who. And when we finally picked the voice that we liked and we agreed on it, we said, "Well, who was the actress?" We learned it was Tara and it was like, "Really? That's who we?" We couldn't believe it, because obviously we knew Tara from before. But she really was the best one. It was amazing. And we didn't know it was her, either, because she does a slightly different voice. But damn, she's a talented lady.

The focus will be on Bruce, however, and his fear that he will be overwhelmed by the Batman:

There's a particular episode later down the line that he gets himself in a situation, he comes up against a villain that really sort of pushes him to the edge. And we get to see a side of Batman's character that's the side that he's terrified of, and it really affects him. It also has to do with what's going on with him and Alfred at the time and things like that. Alfred's very much a father figure and very much a guy who's had far more life experience at this point than Bruce has, and so that's why he wants to be there, and why he's afraid, "What will happen if I'm not there?" And so we're going to play with those ideas, too. So psychologically, you're going to see some real bad stuff happen with Bruce that's going to go down that route.

"That's his biggest fear," said Watson, "that Bruce won't be able to control Batman, and if he goes full Batman that Bruce Wayne will cease to exist. And then he will become a true dark figure."