We don’t have a lot culture we can reliably return years after its release and go “This is as good as I remember.” I submit, that Batman: The Animated Series, which is celebrating 25 years since its premiere, is one of those culture moments you can visit again and again. Bruce Timm and Paul Dini get most of the credit, but Shirley Walker doesn’t get nearly enough as she deserves.
Polygon’s appreciation of Walker and the show itself got me thinking seriously about why I liked the Batman: The Animated Series. Unlike other kids, I never watched as new episodes aired on Saturday mornings; I was too young. Instead, I got a taste of it through reruns that aired on Fox Kids and Cartoon Network. When I realized that my Amazon Prime subscription included free access to the show late last year for Xbox One, my heart fluttered a little. It even spawned a debate on Twitter about the best implementation of Batman.
Truly, my favorite part of Batman: The Animated Series was the Joker and Alfred, but the music set it apart. I listen to music as I go about my day, and my personal collection includes Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, which is just about the most epic soundtrack of any kids show. There’s chanting, violins and all sorts of drama between each note. Because of Walker’s music, every moment was epic, even if all Batman did was lurk in a shadow and wait for two idiot henchmen to accidentally do themselves in. Just take a listen to some of her work.
Walker died back in 2006, but not before going on to work on Batman Beyond and Superman: The Animated Series. She holds the record for scoring more productions than any other woman.
Be sure to check out the Polygon piece. It’s filled with details about Walker’s influence on the show, its tone and the tone of the wider DC Animated Universe.