April 21, 2024

Article at Batman News

View original

Batman Beyond Retro Review – Episode 3×02 – U Can’t Touch This

This episode isn’t a bad one, but it’s symbolic of a lot of Batman Beyond‘s issues as a show in comparison to its legendary predecessor. Terry’s opponent has the tech advantage this time, but it hardly matters.

Batman Beyond: Untouchable

The plot is pretty straightforward: there’s a new criminal in town who can put his hand into molten metal without concern–because there’s a field surrounding his body that keeps anything and everything from touching him.

Unfortunately, the story does absolutely nothing interesting with this.

Terry has a few run-ins with the villain. He and Bruce quickly figure out that they’re using some experimental Wayne-Powers technology, quickly narrowing our suspects down. One of the potential suspects is a nice girl named Irene who has autoimmune problems that keep her isolated in a safety chamber.

If you voted ‘Terry McGinnis Cheats on Dana Again,’ give yourself a point. Whenever this show puts Terry in front of a girl his age, he immediately becomes single-mindedly focused on her. He’ll make excuses about being nice, but the real takeaway is that he’s the kind of hopeless romantic who will get hopelessly romantic for any young woman who has an emotionally trying experience within earshot.

The actual criminal, though, is not Irene–she’s innocent. The criminal is someone else in the lab, which isn’t interesting. But this episode inspired a thought exercise for me. Let’s take the criminal’s main conceit–nothing can touch him thanks to high-tech science gizmos–and think about what a Batman: The Animated Series episode would look like about that character.

In B:TAS, the unnecessary temptation would probably be set aside to focus on the villain. The villain would have some metaphorical element that matches up with the power. The same way that Clayface was obsessed with his appearance, this guy would be pushing people away from himself, and out of his life. He would be isolating himself, saying that he doesn’t need anyone, and that he’s better off alone; this works with Batman’s obsession with being alone and having to be constantly reminded that he needs people, too.

The two would come to blows and Batman would be on his back foot the whole time. The villain would, whether through his hubris or otherwise, become bonded with the technology–and realize belatedly that he’ll never be able to touch anyone again.

Batman would then have one of his “there but for the grace of God go I” moments and we’d all say “Dang, really makes you think,” and nod our heads knowingly.

An earlier episode gets close to this, giving its antagonist a similarly isolating technology, and in the end, falling through the earth endlessly. This episode could’ve even brought in Shriek as an uneasy ally; Batman defeats his opponent with sound, and a team-up would’ve certainly shaken things up.

But neither that episode nor this one go the next step. The villain here is a big pile of nothing. He’s a completely unmemorable character, and when his technology breaks down, it doesn’t backfire–it just stops working. Terry doesn’t reflect on it, either. He just decides to tell Irene that they can’t be together, and it turns out she already has a boyfriend who looks functionally identical to Terry (while Irene is coded Asian like Dana). Oh, and his name is Larry. This could’ve been an opportunity for Bruce to tell Terry not to be like him, to let people into his life in a way that Bruce still can’t.

Instead, we have a forgettable villain and annoying relationship drama, and not much else.