Warner Brothers asked Bruce Timm
and Paul Dini
to create a new Batman series that would appeal to a younger audience as his last cartoon, Batman: The Animated Series
, had begun to "skew old" that is, appeal to viewers older than the network wanted. That meeting generated a number of ideas: a Smallville
-like show starring a younger Bruce Wayne but eventually Timm and Dini hit on the idea of a teenage "successor" Batman. Timm and Dini proposed working up story treatments but Warner Brothers told them they already had a green light to make their show. Bruce called up a friend who worked with him on other shows and Glen
loved the idea and talked Bruce into doing it. Early names included B2 (with a superscript, like B-squared), the Tomorrow Knight (the producers remain proud they did not select that one) and Batman Tomorrow. Advertising difficulties ("tonight on Batman Tomorrow" might confuse viewers) scuttled that, and they arrived at Batman Beyond. The idea of killing off Bruce Wayne circulated briefly, but according to Bruce Timm, he slammed his fist on a desk and flatly told those involved he would never kill Bruce Wayne.
The series was a huge hit and lasted for three seasons. The first two-part episode, "Rebirth" focused on Terry McGinnis, a troubled boy who after a run-in with the law and the Jokerz gang discovers Bruce Wayne's secret identity the same day a megalomaniac has his father murdered for something he'd discovered. Terry asked Bruce for help but Bruce refused, telling him to take his evidence to the police and let them handle it. Terry knew the murderer had a lot of political influence and could probably evade justice, but he tried it. En route to the police station he was jumped and lost the evidence. Now, Terry had no way of convincing the police so he took matters into his own hands. Terry then snuck into the Bat-cave and stole the newest
Batman costume, then went after his father's murderer. Terry gained a measure of revenge for his father's death and the satisfaction of seeing justice done as he confronted various wrongdoers over that first season: new creations Inque and Spellbinder as well as a (sort of) revived Mr. Freeze and a new incarnation of the Royal Flush Gang. Terry even helped his era's Justice League Unlimited
defeat Starro the Conqueror. Superman offered Terry membership but he refused.
Bruce Wayne, no longer young, stays in the Bat-Cave while Terry does the legwork. Bruce has, however, gone back into the line of duty using a high-tech
battle suit that placed a dangerous strain on his heart when he was 20 years younger.
In addition to three seasons of episodes, the series produced one movie, Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker, and a short-lived spinoff series The Zeta Project
. After the cancellation of his own series, Terry appeared in the Static Shock
episode "Future Shock
" and in the Justice League Unlimited
episodes "The Once and Future Thing Part Two: Time, Warped
" and "Epilogue
" where he learned a shocking secret about his own origins.
A Second DVD
The producers once planned to create a Batman Beyond DVD with a plot similar to "Epilogue" but it never got past the 45 minute planning stages. Bruce Timm and another producer wrote the story. Originally, Terry/Batman was to meet with Selina Kyle and learn of many failed cloning attempts and his destiny as Bruce's clone. She would also reveal a son cloned from Bruce who became a vigilante that murdered villains. There were also plans to bring back old villains like the Riddler and others. However, the concept raised certain continuity questions, for example, "Why didn't Bruce recognize Terry as his clone?" and "Why was Matt more like a Terry clone?" Then Dwayne McDuffie created "Epilogue" and answered the most important questions about Terry, so that's the route that the team took.