An Animated Adaptation of Batman that began airing in 2004 and finished in 2008, The Batman is the story of a young Bruce Wayne solving crimes and beating up villains. It was the first Batman cartoon made outside the DCAU since the latter debuted with Batman: The Animated Series in 1992. It was the first Batman series to feature certain obscure comic villains such as Cluemaster.The series also did a mix up of traditional DC Comics lore, primarily that Batgirl shows up as Batman's partner before Robin. Later on, it showed Batman as being the primary organizer of the Justice League and convincing Superman it was a good idea. (Normally Superman and Martian Manhunter are credited with the League's concept and formation.)The show was produced by Duane Capizzi and characters were designed by Jeff Matsuda, most famous for their work on Jackie Chan Adventures and there is plenty of resemblance between the two shows, mostly the art style and the frantic action scenes. In the fourth season Alan Burnett of B:TAS was brought in as showrunner, resulting in a dramatic shift into exploring the greater DCU universe outside of specifically Batman and his Rogues Gallery.Also notable in regards to its movie, The Batman vs. Dracula. It spun a comic series, "The Batman Strikes", which lasted for 50 issues. Not to be confused with the Columbia Pictures 1943 serial The Batman or the tentatively titled upcoming reboot.Not to Be Confused with an Expyof Batman. Also has a recap page.
This show contains examples of:
Absurdly Sharp Blade - Everything. Batarangs can casually slice through metal like a hot knife through butter, even by someone with no training with them (like Alfred). Likewise, pretty much any bladed weapon is capable of slicing through steel or whole trees with no effort.
Adaptational Badass: The Penguin benefited the most from this, being transformed from a guy with a deformity using gimmicky umbrellas into an Acrofatic martial artist who happens to be a criminal mastermind to boot. And somehow has control over the kabuki twins.
The Joker also got this treatment, especially early on. His overall design (he started out pretty much barefoot) and way of movement made him seem more like a criminally-insane Tarzan (it helps that his first outfit was basically a straitjacket with tie-dyed sleeves); his ape-like nature lent itself to his fighting style. Later on, he became more like his Batman: The Animated Series incarnation, standing up straighter, wearing the trademark purple suit (though he still goes shoe-free) and generally acting more like that incarnation. On the other hand, he does go the extra mile to inflict his own brand of Mind Rape.
Adaptation Distillation - Several villains including Clayface, The Riddler, Poison Ivy, and Professor Hugo Strange, who was featured as a major villain for most of the show. While the B:TAS version of Clayface was as at most sympathetic, The Batman made him to be an outright tragic figure.
Harley Quinn came through with only minor differences to her TAS incarnation (not surprising, as her original creator Paul Dini wrote her episode.)
A.I. Is a Crapshoot: D.A.V.E, though subverted when it turns out he was purposefully programmed to become evil.
All There in the Manual: Gearhead's real name and origins aren't mentioned in the episode where he appears, but the tie-in comic tells them (his name is Nathan Finch, just like the mainstream comics version).
Penguin's Kabuki Twin accomplices were unnamed in the show, but tie-in material named them "Peri" and "Gale".
Art Evolution - Batman originally had a very pointed chin (which is much different than almost any other incarnation where he has a Lantern Jaw of Justice) but when Robin came into the picture they gave him a slightly more square jaw.
Asshole Victim: Both Chief Rojas and the Joker almost become this, both at the hand of Ethan Bennett/Clayface I. Rojas for basically treating Ethan like crap and the Joker for the Mind Rape he put Ethan through and the fact that the chemicals the Joker exposed him to basically was what made him into Clayface.
Attention Whore: A major defining trait of Basil Karlo, the second Clayface. As in "immediately goes on a crime spree once he realizes that it would make him world famous." His motives are pretty much entirely notoriety-based.
Batman Gambit: Riddler has set fake bombs all over the city that can only be deactivated by solving various puzzles. This is actually a diversion so that he can break into the City Hall database undisturbed and steal important information. He actually got away with it!!! (Until he had a Villainous Breakdown)
Bedlam House: Three guesses, first two don't count. Arkham! This time it's portrayed as an extremely tall gothic building complete with prison cell-like rooms and padded walls. Oh, and the guards pretty much have the authority to carry around tasers and dress in robes that make them look like they're prepared to do a lobotomy on a second's notice.
Betrayal Insurance: When Batman got a piece of kryptonite off of Metallo, not only did he keep it, he lied about giving it back (he gave Supes a fake one and kept the real one). He did it to "get even" with Superman for finding out his identity. However, by the end of the episode, it's the idealistic version, as they have settled their differences, and when Batman offers to give Supes the real kryptonite, Superman says to keep it. It still goes to show you that Batman really doesn't like anyone being nearly as Crazy-Prepared as him.
Big "NO!": When, as a result of his plan ends with the death of his son (and everyone else) Francis Grey shouts one so powerful that it causes him to travel back in time 17 years (as opposed to his normal ability of 20 seconds) and avoid making every mistake that led to him becoming a criminal, and having his life turn out OK in the "present".
Bond One-Liners all over the place, though the people so mocked usually never actually die. This, coming from the traditionally grim and silent Batman, may have caused some distaste in more militant fans. He generally stopped these once Batgirl and Robin appeared to take them over.
It gave us this:
A man walks into a bar and says "Ouch". - Batman, to the Joker.
Alfred gets one of the above, and Batman gets a traditional one in The Movie before Dracula perishes.
Played with in the episode Seconds, where the Save Scumming villain actually rewinds time until he can give a good one-liner.
Brother Chuck - Detective Ellen Yin never appeared after the second season. She's only even mentioned in one episode set in the future, though she has a pretty awesome apparent future. Likewise, Chief Rojas isn't seen or mentioned since Season 2.
Marion Grange had gotten reelected as Gotham's Mayor in Season 3, but by the time we see the mayor of Gotham again (in Season 5), Grange was replaced by Hamiliton Hill.
The Kabuki Twins eventually just stop appearing.
Butt Monkey: He seems to be the Butt Monkey of almost every episode he's ever made an apearence in, no matter how short it was. Heck, he was the movie's Butt Monkey!
Though oddly enough, he wasn't one in "Team Penguin", simply because Killer Moth was.
Canon Foreigner - Ethan Bennett, Chief Rojas, Tremblor, The Kabuki Twins, Punch and Judy, Krank, D.A.V.E.
Chekhov's Gunman - Hugo Strange makes his first appearance in one brief scene in season 2's "Meltdown", testifying for Ethan Bennet's sanity. He would go on to become a villain of nigh Big Bad levels in the next few seasons.
Composite Character - Firefly becomes this is Season 5, when he came into contact with an isotope and gained the powers and (partly) the codename of minor Batman baddie Doctor Phosphorus. Additionally a couple of the characters, namely the Penguin and the Flash (confirmed by Word of God) are Composite Characters of different incarnations and adaptations of themselves throughout the years.
Both Batgirl and Robin appear to be composites of two different characters to hold their title. Robin has the identity and back story of Dick Greyson, while the suit and aspects of the personality of Tim Drake. Batgirl has the name, hair color, and family ties of Barbara Gordon, but the personality and age of Stephanie Brown (her costume however is completely unique, but bares ome esemblence to Spoiler, Brown's pre-Batgirl name, and partial aspects of her Robin costume).
Conservation of Ninjutsu: At the end of "Rumors", Batman and Robin take on their entire rogue's gallery, and win. However, this instance comes with a few justifications. For starters, half of them are taken out in the crossfreeze by Mr. Freeze at the start. The remaining villains step on each other's toes a fair bit as well. To top things off, the duo doesn't have to completely defeat any of their foes. Thanks to the fight going down in Rumor's prison facility, they just have to trap them.
Curb-Stomp Battle - Batman's first fight with Bane, which likely averts a number of tropes for fictional violence, ends with Batman badly injured. Both Alfred and the cops assume Batman suffered multiple fractures, Alfred even suggests internal bleeding, and Batman is out of action for weeks until he can recover.
Cut Lex Luthor a Check - Deconstructed with the Riddler. His Start of Darkness shows how people would just take advantage of the supervillain's intellect for their own ends and throw him away. Comes with the double burn points that the Riddler initially tried to get public acknowledgment for his inventions instead of selling them for profits.
Dangerously Genre Savvy: D.A.V.E. pretty much saw everything Batman threw at him coming, including the great line "I guess you want your tracking device back" to Batman, who is not only behind him but has not revealed himself yet.
Darker and Edgier: The Batman vs Dracula was this to the main series when it was released, with Nightmare Fuel by the gallons. When season 4 came along, the episodes were generally considered to have a much better written and more mature tone.
Early-Bird Cameo - According to Jeff Matsuda, while Gordon officially debuted in "Night and the City", Gordon was also the young officer that comforted Bruce in the flashback in "Traction," but said it wasn't a tie-in to Batman Begins.
Enemy Mine: The invasion of the Joining in season 4's finale forces the Arkham crowd to work with the police: the Joker sees terrorizing Gotham as his job, while the others just want to stay alive. This leads to scenes like Gordon and Freeze working together to take out an alien.
Entertainingly Wrong: A couple of far-future archaeologists who are excavating the Batcave have a few conclusions like this. They think Oracle's wheelchair belonged to Alfred, for example, and after seeing a portrait of the Wayne family (Bruce and his parents), they conclude that Thomas Wayne was Batman, and Bruce was Robin.
Everyone Calls Him Barkeep - Hawkman and Flash were never referred to by their real names. However, comments made by Hawkman about fighting criminals on two planets and the Batcave looking like Thangar Police headquarters hint that Hawkman was Silver Agealien cop Katar Hol and Word of God said Flash, despite his personality, was Barry Allen.
Evil Albino - Man-Bat and his human form are both albinos.
Subverted when Kirk Langstrom reforms and becomes The Atoner in Season 5.
Evil Laugh - The Penguin's evil laugh is all kinds of crazy awesome.
Executive Meddling - Some of the intellectual property from Batman was being used in multiple adaptations (all owned by the Warner Brothers, however). Not wanting to create conflict between different adaptations' interpretations of characters, some things were off-limits for the writing staff. Here are specific examples:
Robin was forbidden from appearing until Teen Titans was canceled, meaning Batgirl actually becomes a sidekick first, which makes for an interesting mythology shake-up and promotes her from the usual third-fiddle.
Some of the villains used in the The Dark Knight Saga, most notably Scarecrow and Two-Face, were also forbidden from appearing. Clayface was used in place of Two-Face for the "best friend turned into a criminal" schtick. The episode "Strange New World" was written to introduce Scarecrow, but once the writing staff found out that he was still off-limits, they opted to go with Professor Hugo Strange instead.
All of the above is very ironic, considering the "Bat-Embargo" this series imposed onto Justice League Unlimited (another reason for the dislike The Batman gets)
Express Lane Limit: When Joker goes Bat-mimic he Joker-gasses people for whatever 'crimes' he notices. Littering (can hits the bin and bounces out), jaywalking, and 11 items at a ten or fewer checkout; tsk tsk.
Expy: Ellen Yin and Ethan Bennett are more or less counterparts of Renee Montoya and Crispus Allen. Which is a bit funny because Renee Montoya originated in B:TAS and became a Canon Immigrant.
Detective Ellen Yin also heavily resembles Elisa Maza transposed into the Batman universe. She even wears the same outfit. Interestingly, Greg Weisman also wrote a handful of episodes for the series.
Also, Ethan Bennett is Harvey Dent. From the long friendship with Bruce right down to calling Batman "Bats," a la Harvey from The Long Halloween.
A interesting case of the Bat embargo. During the "interviews" segments they reveal due to Teen Titans they were restricted in who they could use.
Exty Years from Now - Half of the episode "Artifacts" takes place in the year 3027 where a team of archaeologists find the Batcave in hopes to stop a still-living Mr. Freeze.
Face-Heel Turn - Clayface AKA Ethan Bennet, after trying hard to go back to his normal life, becomes Clayface after being prodded by the Joker. He later does a Heel-Face Turn.
Family-Friendly Firearms - Played straight throughout the series itself as the guns used were pretty futuristic-looking and on the few occasions handguns were fired, they sounded like lasers or silenced shots. Lapses into Abnormal Ammo in "Night and the City," when Rojas and a SWAT team uses guns that fired what could be called "tiny tasers." Subverted in The Batman VS. Dracula, where the GCPD SWAT team still had futuristic-looking machine guns, but the guns fired normal bullets and the gunshots sounded more like actual machine gun fire.
Family-Unfriendly Death: When Black Mask pulled a You Have Failed Me on his Number One by using Nth metal to make him float upward until he's stopped by a ceiling window, talking to him for a bit, then opening the window. It would probably be a lot worse if Mask's next action (picking a new Number One with the exact same line as the one he just killed) wasn't completely hilarious.
Fainting: Completely justified for Tony Zucco in "A Matter of Family". He's just had his ass handed to him by a very angry Batman, then fallen from the top of a trapeze, only to be caught by Robin before he hits the ground. Once he's back on solid ground, he understandably faints dead away.
Fat Bastard: The Penguin. No surprise there. Rojas as well.
Future Imperfect: They don't quite get the details of Batman's life right in "Artifacts".
Gender Flip - Marion Grange. While the show portrays Grange as a man, the comics version was a woman.
Generic Doomsday Villain: D.A.V.E may well be a deconstruction. He is a robot programmed by Dr. Hugo Strange with the memories and abilities of Batman's worst foes for the sole purpose of giving Batman a challenge. He proceeds to easily curbstomp Batman and steals ALL of Gotham's money just to commit the ultimate crime, but is defeated when Batman asks him to explain his origin story. Since D.A.V.E believed that he used to be a person, he basically went catatonic after realizing that he had no backstory of his own.
Genre Blindness - Characters make numerous infractions in logic and judgment during the early seasons. However since the show was supposed to be about younger, less experienced characters, that may have been the idea.
Gentleman Thief - Ostensibly the Penguin, though "gentleman" probably isn't the word for him.
Good Cannot Comprehend Evil: In one episode, Batman actually tries to make sense of The Joker. By the end, it is safe to say that Batman figures out that doing this is an exercise of futility and madness.
Groin Attack: Vicki Vale does one on The Penguin in The Batman vs Dracula. And his reaction is hilarious.
Hand Wave - The Penguin was noted to have masterminded a crime spree across Asia prior to his introductory appearance, allowing his inexplicable fighting ability to be chalked up to having "picked up a few things" while there.
The Hero Dies: Subverted in the episode "Seconds"; Batman, Robin and Batgirl are killed along with Gotham by Francis Grey. However, Grey also sees his son die and therefore uses his time travel power to go back in time and prevent any of the events that ruined his life and led to him trying to destroy Gotham from ever happening.
Hoist by His Own Petard: When Gearhead tries to hijack the new Batmobile in his debut episode, he gets nonfatally electrocuted because Bruce equipped it with nanotech defenses reverse-engineered from Gearhead.
Humongous Mecha - Mr. Freeze's exo-suit in "Artifacts," Scarface's new body in "The Big Dummy", and even the Batman has a mecha of his own.
The Hyena: The Joker, of course, and he does a hell of a lot more laughing for no reason at all.
I Know Mortal Kombat: One of the biggest gripes the Hatedom repeated eternally was that every Batman villain now seemed to know martial arts. Others appreciated that it was to give him more direct, action-filled conflict with the villains instead of trailing around after them, running through a death trap, and then taking them out after two dodges and a single punch and/or Batarang.
Ironic Echo: Sort of, the Joker says it twice but The Joker Moon in the episode "Strange Minds" yells out "Egad! A Batman in my belfry!" which brings the second quote of this page's quotes to its literal meaning.
Intended Audience Reaction - Chief Rojas is probably one of the most unlikable and unreasonable characters in the show, which was probably used to establish that the Gotham Police are unpleasant at best, corrupt at worst.
Jerkass - The Penguin, in sharp contrast to his usual polite personality. Chief Rojas is one, too, seeing his treatment of Ethan Bennett and to a lesser extent Yin. And oddly enough Superman,of all people, was one in his debut, though he does learn to get over it.
Jobber - Bane in most every fight with Batman and his allies after his first appearance.
Knife-Throwing Act - There is an episode where Batman is captured and the villain proves to be an amazing knife thrower, first intentionally missing the pinned Batman in the typical circus act manner before going for a killing shot.
Basil Karlo is considered one in-universe, complete having starred in a Stylistic SuckB Movie Parody in which he hams like you wouldn't believe. Becoming Clayface only made it worse, really.
Laser-Guided Karma - In TBvD, when Joker shocks Penguin with two joy-buzzers and tosses him in the river, Penguin recovers just in time to see Batman swing after a retreating Joker. He nearly drops the trope name!:
Penguin: Instant karma, Joker!
Leitmotif - Several, most noticeably Batman's theme, which is everywhere, and The Joker's which is almost as prevalent, in his appearances anyway.
Robin also has a very brief but very noticeable (as it pretty much plays whenever he does anything) twinging riff associated with him.
Monster Clown - Joker seems to have dreadlocks this time around. Makes a certain sense, as this version doesn't seem to wash.
His wild hair also resembles a Jester's hat.
Mythology Gag - It is, after all, Batman. There's tons to draw from in terms of mythology gags.
The future-based episode "Artifacts" has a scene where an aged Batman (looking similar to Millerverse old Batman) steps out of his Batmobile to fight Mr. Freeze. Freeze greets him with the words: "The Dark Knight returns!"
Alfred also resembles his counterpart from the story, being a lot older and needing to use a cane to walk around.
There's also a tank-like Batmobile ala TDKR.
In the same episode, Robin and Batgirl assume their present-day comic identites of Nightwing and Oracle respectively.
One of the future cops (incorrectly) suspects that Thomas Wayne was Batman and his son Bruce was Robin due to records lost or incomplete. In some versions of the comics, Thomas dressed as a "Bat-Man" (resembling 1930s Batman) during Halloween and/or a costume party, while in early comics, Bruce briefly dons a costumed identity of Robin as a child.
Ellen Yin seemed to be based off on Ellen Yindel from The Dark Knight Returns and is hinted in "Artifacts" to have replaced Gordon as Commissioner like Yindel did in TDKR. Also like Yindel, Yin has been trying to arrest Batman for being an outlaw vigilante until she realize Gotham needs him.
In the same episode during some speculation, Robin and Batgirl are referred to respectively as Red Robin and Batwoman.
Mr. Freeze suffered a similar, though less severe, deterioration as his Batman: The Animated Series incarnation and hence has replaced his legs with robotic spider legs.
In "Team Penguin", Ragdoll suggests "Villains United" as a potential name for the villains team. One version of Ragdoll is known for staring in a series with just that name.
In his debut episode, Kirk Langstrom lies to Bruce Wayne that he is doing research on bats to find a cure for deafness. This is a reference to the comics, where Langstrom's transformation into Man-Bat was a side effect of curing his own deafness.
In the first episode, Joker says "Blame it on the bats in my belfry". A nod to the 1989 film where he said "It can be truly said, that I have a bat in my belfry".
Police Are Useless: Literally, the basic format of some episodes is: Villain is revealed, beats police stupid, and then is cleverly beaten by Batman.
This is subverted in the case of Ellen Yin and Ethan Bennett although Ethan Bennett eventually turns evil and becomes Clayface. However, he later becomes good again and is implied in Artifacts to be a cop again in the future. Commissioner Gordon is sometimes helpful, like when he teams with the Arkham rogues to defend the city in "The Joining" against an alien invasion, but most often he is not.
Race Lift: Mercy Graves turns from Caucasian to half-Asian thanks to the casting of Singaporean actress Gwendoline Yeo. Hamilton Hill and Mark Desmond (the alter-ego of the original Blockbuster) are African-American. Ellen Yin seems to be an Asian-American version of Ellen Yindel fron Batman: The Dark Knight Returns
Remember the New Guy - Subverted. Commissioner Gordon, of course, and Lucius Fox are fixtures from the comics, but in the terms of the show, aside from a (generally-believed and later confirmed) cameo of a young Gordon, they fit this trope to a T.
Re Power: When Sinestro visits Gotham to hunt down Hal Jordan and steal his Power Ring, the nearly-depleted ring eventually winds up on the hand of Batman. The moment was brief, but it's as good as it sounds.
The third season takes a notable turn in terms of the feel of the show, a new retro 60s go-go Adam West meets Hawaii 5-0 theme song, introducing a sidekick (Batgirl).
If you listen carefully, you can hear the '60s Batman theme song as a back-beat melody. You can say what you want of the '60s show, but its theme remains quite awesome.
The fourth season adds Robin and goes much more Darker and Edgier than before with scenes like Robin's parents being killed or seeing Gotham get gassed with nerve gas along with Batman, Robin and Batgirl dying, though of course there's a Reset Button in "Seconds". It also ends with the Justice League forming.
The fifth season adds many other heroes and villains from all over the DC Universe.
More shout outs are done with Gearhead who's costume is a reference to Enter the Dragon and his face behind the mask harkens back to another character voiced by Will Friedle.
When Commissioner Gordon is replaced with a plant-person, he turns green right after declaring that he is angry.
Tony Zucco has three henchmen - his brothers. They consist of a dapper looking gentleman who is good with a whip, a big man who is very strong, and a very short but very agile scrapper: a reference to Marvel comics' trio of henchmen-for-hire, The Enforcers.
In "Superman Story", to "Rocket Robinhood". Lampshaded by Robin.
Time Skip - Season 5 picks up a year after Season 4. As a result Batgirl's in college and Gotham has a new mayor. Before that, Season 4 started sometime after Season 3, which is why Batman is now drawn as older looking.
Title Drop - Nearly everyone, from civilians to the cops to his biggest enemies to the man himself tends to use "The Batman" as opposed to just "Batman" when talking about him. It's a lot more noticeable in the earlier episodes, though.
In "Artifacts", they say that they didn't find Batman, all they found was Artifacts.
Twenty Minutes into the Future - The other half of "Artifacts" takes place in 2027, detailing Batman (looking much like his counterpart in The Dark Knight Returns and driving a tank-like Batmobible ala TDKR) and Nightwing confront Freeze (resembling a less-severely deteriorated version of the latter version of Batman: The Animated Series Freeze in a giant exo-suit) for the last time with Oracle and an older Alfred (also ala TDKR.) helping them from the Batcave and Gordon's retired from the force. It's also said in this segment that Ellen replaced Gordon as Commissioner and Ethan Bennett rejoined the force and replaced Rojas as Chief.
Two Words: Obvious Trope - invoked in-show when the Batmobile missed ramming Mister Freeze. "Two words, Batman: snow tires." At least it appeared to miss ramming Mister Freeze.
Unflinching Walk: Penguin does this after he blows up a TV display in Bird of Prey.
Ungrateful Bastard - Chief Rojas and other police officers are rescued by Batman on multiple occasions. Does Chief Rojas give a damn? Batman may be a vigilante, but really now, there's no need to be such a Jerkass to him over it...
Rojas showed to really push it in the ep with Mr. Freeze and Firefly. He and the rest of the police were all frozen solid, and Batman thawew them out. When Batman was seen, Rojas ordered his men to capture him, but instead they all applaud him for saving them from freezing to death.
Vein-O-Vision - in The Batman vs. Dracula, how vampires see their prey.
Francis: I took a watch! Everything else was just an accident.
Villain Team-Up - Mister Freeze and Firefly decide that fire and ice would be a winning combination in one episode. Later, "Team Penguin" is formed when the Penguin gathers several second-tier villains into a criminal gang, pooling their talents to even the odds against Batman and his sidekicks.
The Voiceless: Penguin's Kabuki Twins, and the Joker's henchmen, Punch and Judy.
Waif-Fu - Batgirl and Robin are pretty small. However with their incredibly agile skills, they're pretty formidable and effective crime fighters. Also, Penguin's hench wenches, the Kabuki Twins. Slender and elegant yet lethal killing machines.
What Could Have Been - As mentioned in Executive Meddling, the original idea of what became Strange New World, the villain was the Scarecrow, but as he was still off-limits, he was replaced with Hugo Strange. However, given the episode's plot, it was probably for the best as he'd have given the twist away. Likewise, a proposed but rejected idea of a follow-up DTV to The Batman VS. Dracula would be an adaption of Hush. Likewise, the villain on Rumors was originally supposed to have been Hush, too.
With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: While most villains who came into great power were pieces of work before then, this is still used occasionally, particularly with Clayface, with whom it's all but outright stated that the use of his power causes him to becomes unhinged, unstable and destructive, unless he works very hard at controlling himself (which fails. A lot).
Well-Intentioned Extremist - As Batman puts it in the spin-off "The Batman Strikes" comic series, Poison Ivy means well but her methods are insane.
While Rome Burns - The Season 4 finale has Alfred and Lucius Fox drinking tea as the Joining destroys Gotham and ash falls like snow before deciding that they still can help Batman, albeit from the Batcave.
Zombie Apocalypse - In the episode "Strange New World", Professor Hugo Strange releases a toxin that transforms everyone into zombies into Gotham. Batman does all he can to find an antidote, only to realize at the last moment that the zombies are just an illusion Strange created and the antidote he created is actually Strange's real toxin. Dracula tried to start one in The Movie, if you count vampires as zombies.