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Amazon buys the Batman: Caped Crusader cartoon, plus two more while at the checkout

Amazon snaps up the rights to the new series from Matt Reeves, Bruce Timm, J.J. Abrams, and Ed Brubaker

Batman Caped Crusader by Bruce Timm
Image credit: WB Animation

Months after HBO Max dropped six animated projects, Warner Bros. Animation has closed a deal with Prime Video to move two of them — in addition an all-new spin-off — to the Amazon-owned streaming service. All three are Batman-related, and good news: one of them is the much-anticipated Batman: Caped Crusader from Bruce Timm, J.J. Abrams and The Batman director Matt Reeves.

Inside Prime Video’s new animated Batcave

Caped Crusader is just one of three new Batman animated projects acquired by Prime Video under the new deal. The show — which comes from executive producers Bruce Timm, J.J. Abrams, and Matt Reeves, and features Criminal and Reckless writer Ed Brubaker as head writer — seeks to reinvent the iconic character through what’s being described as “sophisticated storytelling, nuanced characters, and intense action sequences, all set in a visually striking world.”

Additionally, Prime has acquired holiday special Merry Little Batman, about Damian Wayne as he finds himself alone in Wayne Manor on Christmas Eve and has to defend his home from crooks, criminals and supervillains in a one-off written by Teen Titans Go!’s Morgan Evans and directed by Regular Show’s Mike Roth, and ordered a brand-new spin-off series titled Bat-Family, which will have Roth on board as an executive producer alongside Sam Register and Jase Ricci.

“Batman: The Animated Series helped pioneer in the evolution of superhero storytelling and defined the Dark Knight for a generation,” Vernon Sanders, head of television, Amazon and MGM Studios, said in a statement about the deal. “Batman: Caped Crusader will no doubt continue that tradition and, alongside Merry Little Batman and Bat-Family, we’re thrilled to collaborate with Warner Bros. Animation to offer a variety of takes of the Batman mythos to our global Prime Video customers.”

What's happened with HBO Max and its animated projects

Both Batman: Caped Crusader and Merry Little Batman were amongst six projects chopped by HBO Max in August 2022 as part of wider cutbacks at parent company Warner Bros. Discovery, according to a report that appeared in Variety. The others were The Day The Earth Blew Up: A Looney Tunes Movie, Bye Bye Bunny: A Looney Tunes Musical, Did I Do That to the Holidays: A Steve Urkel Story, The Amazing World of Gumball: The Movie. The news came as a significant blow to Warner Bros. Animation, which was the production company for all but The Amazing World of Gumball, which was produced by Hanna-Barbera Studios Europe (a sister company to Warner Bros. Animation under the Warner Bros. Discovery umbrella), although all six projects officially remained in production despite HBO Max dropping them, with a plan of finding them different outlets upon completion — a plan that has now borne fruit.

Batman: Caped Crusader had previously been seen as a particularly high-profile project for HBO Max, bringing together the creative force behind the hit movie The Batman with one of the prime movers behind the beloved '90s Batman: The Animated Series. When the project was announced in May 2021, it was officially described as being something that would “once again reinvent Batman and his iconic rogue’s gallery with sophisticated storytelling, nuanced characters and intense action sequences all set in a visually striking world.” The first season of the show was planned to run 10 episodes.

Spreading the reach of Warner Bros. Animation

It's worth noting that HBO Max officially canceling a project yet Warner Bros. Discovery continuing production with a view to selling it to another outlet or network was something that new Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav had explicitly talked about on the same investor call where he mentioned that DC was a priority for the company; his thinking, as he explained it, was that selling projects to external companies would allow the company to maximize profits while maintaining brand awareness; it's an approach currently taken with Warner Bros. Animation's Animaniacs and Bedrock series, which air on Hulu and Fox, respectively.

When will the new shows be released?

Prime Video has not announced any schedule for its new acquisitions. It would, however, be reasonable to expect Merry Little Batman to debut towards the end of this year.

The 1990s Batman Animated series was just the start of a larger universe that included the fan-favorite Static Shock series; look back at that classic show here.