Welcome to Culture Crash, where we examine American culture. What’s new and old in books, film, and entertainment.

I, like a lot of people, have not been immune to the impact of superhero fatigue. The constant onslaught of superhero movies and shows can sometimes be tiring, as can the constantly escalating stakes. Marvel has already grown from villains threatening a city to the world to, well, the galaxy. It’s…a lot.

With all that said, I have really enjoyed my time diving back into the superhero stories of my childhood since HBO Max added Batman: The Animated Series and Batman Beyond to its offerings. The 90s-era cartoons both offer 20-something minute episodes that are very much in the story-of-the-week vein where there is very little crossover from one episode to the next.

In the current era of superhero-dom, everything is important. Fans are expected to have working understandings of infinity stones and Krypton and a whole host of other fictional realms. It can be fun, but sometimes it’s nice to sit back and follow a more stripped down version. It doesn’t matter if you know the mythos of Poison Ivy or the Riddler to enjoy the classic Batman cartoons, you just need to follow along with the episode, which will let you know everything you need to know.

Like I said, these are the Batman shows that led me to fall in the love with the character, but there is a richness and a depth in revisiting the tales in adulthood. The storytelling and voice work is top notch, but both series also know how have some fun with it.

If you’re looking for some easy-going, well-made superhero stories to fill the gap the COVID-19 pandemic has created, or you’re just looking for something more easily digestible, Batman: The Animated Series and Batman Beyond both have some magic up their sleeves. Both series are now streaming on HBO Max.

I’m Evan Rook.

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