Written by Mitch Watson
Directed by Sam Liu
In series premiere of Beware the Batman, seasoned vigilante Batman goes after Professor Pyg and Mister Toad, two criminals that are targeting some of Gotham City’s millionaires. Meanwhile, Alfred worries about being unable to assist Batman and recruits some unlikely help.
Pilots are often the hardest episodes to create or watch. They have to establish a general premise, characters, tone, setting, and a serviceable episodic plot. Many pilots are not reflective of how the final shows turn out, and there are few that completely hit it out of the park. So, how does “Hunted” fare?
The general plot for this episode is successful, for the most part, in establishing the series. It features many of the promised elements of the series, such as Batman confronting obscure villains like Pyg and Toad, Alfred taking an action role as he helps rescuing the duo’s hostages, and Batman making heavy use of his detective skills to solve the case. These are all mostly well-balanced and appear naturally throughout the episode. The one missing element is Katana. Though we’re introduced to Tatsu Yamashiro, her debut as a superhero is yet to be seen. Considering how busy the episode is, however, this is an advantage, and it opens the possibility of longer-term storytelling.
Batman is well-characterized from the get-go, as we explore his two facets as Bruce Wayne and Batman. His insistence on separating the alter-egos can come off as disturbing, but it really sets him apart from other interpretations. Alfred can also be difficult to adjust to, but his fatherly devotion to Bruce remains, which is arguably the most essential part of him. Pyg and Toad make for amusing enemies. Pyg is more watered down than in the comics and his motivation to protect animal kind is nowhere as memorable, but he works fine as an introductory villain. Toad actually HAS a character, and he works well as Pyg’s more sadistic partner in crime. Tatsu is mostly a non-character, but again, there is a larger story at play with her.
The show has a serious, slightly eerie tone. The main characters and the setting feel very realistic, almost evoking Christopher Nolan’s Batman films. However, that makes cartoonish villains like Pyg and Toad stand out more. While this isn’t displayed too much in this particular episode, their over-the-top crimes eventually come off as more horrifying because of this. The edited, censored guns can also be distracting, but there’s no sense in blaming the show for something out of producers’ control.
Unfortunately, most of the setting is rather sterile and bland. While the buildings seem to be influenced by German 1970’s architecture, the lack of civilians, cars and varying buildings in the city can reduce the excitement and atmosphere. Though the textures are impressive, the facial animation for the unmasked human characters can be stiff. Thankfully, the show’s limitations via the CGI loosen up as the season goes through and become less of a problem.
One more flaw to point out: Batman finds one of the victim’s location through an impossible and downright goofy use of “zoom/enhance” technique popularized by CSI. This wouldn’t be out of place in a parody of such trope, but considering the serious tone of the show, it did hurt it and the efforts to bring in more detective-focused stories.
All in all, “Hunted” succeeds as a pilot, effectively introducing several of the show’s element, while dropping a couple of seeds for future episodes. While there are some issues regarding tone and the CGI animation, it still introduces viewers to the series while also providing a singular episode plot. It is a solid start to a much stronger series.
- Michael Holt, AKA Mister Terrific, is also introduced, but unlike Simon Stagg, his appearance is never really followed up on. Mr. T hasn’t been explored much in other media beyond some minor appearances in Justice League Unlimited and as a recurring civilian in Arrow, so this was a wasted opportunity.
- Pay attention to the Argus invitation Bruce receives and Tatsu’s brief meeting with Alfred on the gate of Wayne Manor. These two moments will be addressed in a future review.
- Similarly, Pyg and Toad’s willingness to punish Alfred in Bruce’s place brings up a subtle detail about their characterization that will be in play in future episodes.
- Future reviews won’t be as structured as this one was. This was mostly to measure the strength of this episode as a pilot. Future reviews will have a far more relaxed format.