In 1992, Batman: The Animated Series premiered on the Fox television network; produced by Warner Bros. Animation and featuring Kevin Conroy as the voice of Batman. The series received considerable acclaim for its darker tone, mature writing, stylistic design, and thematic complexity compared to previous superhero cartoons,[165][166] in addition to multiple Emmy Awards.[167][168] The series' success led to the theatrical film Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (1993),[169] as well as various spin-off TV series; including Superman: The Animated Series, The New Batman Adventures, Justice League and Justice League Unlimited (each of which also featured Conroy as Batman's voice). The futuristic series Batman Beyond also took place in this same animated continuity and featured a newer, younger Batman voiced by Will Friedle, with the elderly Bruce Wayne (again voiced by Conroy) as a mentor.

Batman is often treated as a vigilante by other characters in his stories. Frank Miller views the character as "a dionysian figure, a force for anarchy that imposes an individual order".[92] Dressed as a bat, Batman deliberately cultivates a frightening persona in order to aid him in crime-fighting,[93] a fear that originates from the criminals' own guilty conscience.[94] Miller is often credited with reintroducing anti-heroic traits into Batman's characterization,[95] such as his brooding personality, willingness to use violence and torture, and increasingly alienated behavior. Batman, shortly a year after his debut and the introduction of Robin, was changed in 1940 after DC editor Whitney Ellsworth felt the character would be tainted by his lethal methods and DC established their own ethical code, subsequently he was retconned as having a stringent moral code.[35][96] Miller's Batman was closer to the original pre-Robin version, who was willing to kill criminals if necessary.[97]

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