Nostalgia has been all the rage thus far this century, with more reboots and sequels of classic 70s – 90s pop and cult classic entertainment than one could sanely list. We’ve had our peaks and valleys over the course—more valleys, but let’s not dwell on the cringe-worthy. Every once and a while, though, someone’s come along and given us something old and new: Enter Batman and Harley Quinn, coming to theaters nationwide for one night before its digital/home-video release later this month.
Despite its rough late showing in the comic book cinematic universe era compared to Marvel Entertainment, if there’s one thing DC Entertainment and Warner Bros. Animation have solidly dominated for the last three decades, it’s animated films. Batman and Harley Quinn has a special place in the DC Universe Animated Original Series as the unofficial first Batman: The Animated Series film since Batman & Mr. Freeze: SubZero in 1998, and comes with all the trappings.
Co-written by Jim Krieg and Bruce Timm (Batman: The Animated Series, Batman Beyond, Justice League: Gods and Monsters, Batman: The Killing Joke, etc. to name but a few) and directed by Sam Liu (Justice League: Gods and Monsters, Batman: The Killing Joke), this film is every 90s child Batman fan’s dream come true. Not only marking the Batman: The Animated Series “Timmverse” art style return in what feels like far too long, it also features Kevin Conroy as the caped crusader and Loren Lester as Dick Grayson/Nightwing. Sadly Arleen Sorkin, who hasn’t voiced Harley Quinn for a non-video game project since Justice League in 2003, won’t be reprising the role she originated—but her replacement is enough to give nerdy fans something to talk about.
None other than The Big Bang Theory’s own Melissa Rauch is tackling the iconic role; not only does she look the part in real life, but from what little we’ve seen in the teaser trailer, Rauch’s take on the part is quite promising. Community alumni Paget Brewster completes the former womance as Pamela Isley, a.k.a. Poison Ivy, along with Kevin Michael Richardson as Floronic Man and voice-acting legend John DiMaggio as Swamp Thing. Animation fans honestly couldn’t have asked for a better cast.
Batman and Harley Quinn even feels like an extended Batman: The Animated Series episode in every wonderful way imaginable: Facing an apocalyptic transformation of every man, woman, and child into plants at the hands of Poison Ivy and Floronic Man, Batman has to form an uneasy alliance with Harley Quinn. The two Gotham City sirens have an animated history with the dark knight, debuting together in the 1998 Batman: The Animated Series episode “Harley and Ivy” and later brainwashing Bruce Wayne into becoming their holiday season sugardaddy in the Batman: The New Adventures episode “Holiday Knights”. Of course, they were on the same side back then, so there’s a bit of irony to Harley saying, “This could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship,” when they first met.
It’s also interesting that Floronic Man—who’s never been featured in any Batman animation—is playing a key antagonist in Batman and Harley Quinn, considering his complicated comic book past with Poison Ivy. Whether or not aspects of their brief partnership in Batman: Shadow of the Bat #56 will factor into the story remains to be seen, but at least we know he won’t be responsible for Isley’s transformation a la post-Infinite Crisis (to very mixed opinions, as was with many other things).
Thanks to the critically-acclaimed box office success of The Killing Joke, fans who can’t wait for the August 29th DVD/Blu-Ray release are being treated to a one-night theatrical release August 14th through the awesome folks over at Fathom Events. With plenty of theaters and seats still available, check out the animated feature’s page for a screen near you, and get ready for the best kind of nostalgia.