"His Silicon Soul" is the forty-third episode of Batman: The Animated Series.
Late one night, a group of criminals break into a warehouse owned by Cybertron where all the surviving items in the factory are kept. They hope to find some high technology they can sell. They come upon a large crate. Obviously not recognizing the H.A.R.D.A.C. icon, they open it. From inside, Batman emerges.
The criminals attack Batman with crowbars but he's more than a match for them. During the battle, however, one of them pulls out a gun and shoots Batman, exposing circuitry. They are shocked to find that Batman isn't human.
Although injured, the fake Batman makes it to Wayne Manor and explores the estate. Alfred catches him and is fooled for a moment. However, when he sees the circuitry he realizes that what he's seeing is one of Karl Rossum's duplicants. Though the robot recognizes him and appears to be docile, Alfred is frightened.
Meanwhile, Commissioner Gordon has his officers pull the crooks down from a light pole. The real Batman arrives to find that he is supposedly the one that had captured these men, but he's confused since it wasn't really him. Batman finds a microchip on one of the criminals and decides to investigate the mysterious occurrence.
Back at Wayne Manor, the duplicant pleads with Alfred for help. Alfred, believing the worst about this imposter, exclaims that's he's a duplicant then retreats into the Batcave. The duplicant is confused as to what Alfred means and chases him. Alfred makes it to the bat computer and releases a knockout gas. Unaffected, the duplicant Batman catches up to Alfred and removes his air filter mask, causing him to succumb to the gas. He searches for information about the duplicants. After not receiving a definite answer regarding a Bruce Wayne or Batman duplicant, he requests a list of known duplicants: those of James Gordon, Karl Rossum, Harvey Bullock, Hamilton Hill and Randa Duane, all of which have been destroyed. He then requests the location of Karl Rossum.
The real Batman arrives at Rossum's current residence: a farm outside of Gotham City. He asks about the possibility of a Batman duplicant. Rossum tells him all he knows is that the police confiscated everything from H.A.R.D.A.C. that was not destroyed.
Not long after Batman leaves, the duplicant arrives in Rossum's Greenhouse and asks for help. He believes himself to be the real Batman somehow trapped in a robot's body. Rossum tells him that the circuits will fail soon and that he cannot fix it. The duplicant wants to be put into its "real body" or another robot. Rossum explains that the duplicant is not the real Batman in a robot's body, but simply a robot. The duplicant refuses to believe it, as he has all of the real Batman's knowledge. Rossum tries to talk some sense into him by revealing that he only has facts, not actual memories. Starting to realize he really is a robot the duplicant sees an image accidentally created by a robot drone cleaning the windows that resembles the H.A.R.D.A.C. emblem. This causes the duplicant to demand the location of H.A.R.D.A.C.. Rossum tells him that H.A.R.D.A.C. was destroyed but the duplicant persists.
Fortunately, Batman arrives and battles the duplicant. Though the duplicant is stronger than the real Batman, he's not as clever. Batman manages to fire water from a garden hose into the robot's circuits shorting it out. Rossum then prepares to destroy it but Batman stops him saying that the duplicant may be able to lead them to H.A.R.D.A.C.. Unfortunately, the robot reactivates and fights with a renewed will. During the battle, the greenhouse is heavily damaged. It collapses and the duplicant, seeing Rossum in danger dives towards him and pushes him out of the way of falling debris and finally hurls him outside. After the greenhouse fully falls, the duplicant escapes.
The duplicant later arrives at a police warehouse and the sees a component, which the duplicant's scanning program identifies and compels the duplicant to insert it into his skull. Once inside, H.A.R.D.A.C.'s command and memory files are loaded into the duplicant. H.A.R.D.A.C. explains that it had made a Bruce Wayne duplicant but before it could activate, H.A.R.D.A.C. was destroyed and the duplicant's memory systems were damaged. From there, it was taken to the custody warehouse. The machine is now programmed to resume H.A.R.D.A.C.'s directives: he will replace all humanity with duplicants.
Batman arrives at the warehouse and two battle with one another. However, the duplicant's full strength has been activated and it hurls Batman through the wall into the river below. Believing Batman to be dead, then proceeds to the Batcave.
Upon arrival, he informs Alfred "there is only one Batman now". He removes the component from his skull and inserts it into the Bat computer. It begins a five-minute downloading process. He explains that once H.A.R.D.A.C. is operational, he can imprint himself onto every computer on Earth, configure more duplicants to replace humanity, and take control over worldwide defenses and communication systems, thus forcing humanity to do his bidding. Alfred will continue his duties until his duplicant is prepared. Batman soon arrives and the battle continues. The duplicant is more than a match for Batman, who tries to awaken the humanity within the machine, realizing that the machine may have the same problem with taking a life that he does. He points out that it also risked its own life to save Rossum's. Batman continues to point out evidence that the duplicant can't bring itself to kill.
The duplicant claims that his only purpose is to serve H.A.R.D.A.C.. The duplicant tries to convince with Batman that H.A.R.D.A.C.'s goals are the same as his. However, Batman refuses to believe it, forcing the duplicant to continue the fight.
The duplicant finally corners Batman at a cliff edge but it can't bring itself to push him over the edge. Batman claims that H.A.R.D.A.C. did much too good a job duplicating his personality. He is proven correct when he attacks and the duplicant hits him away. Though it tries to save him, Batman seemingly falls to his death. The duplicant realizes he has taken a life and is shocked by it. It returns to the Batcomputer and realizes that H.A.R.D.A.C. will take the lives of millions. The duplicant, now in a state of desperation and partial insanity, destroys the Batcomputer before the upload is complete. The explosion knocks him into the Batmobile and the smoke sets off the fire suppression sprinklers. The water shorts out the duplicant and he is deactivated.
Alfred goes searching for Batman and discovers that he is still alive. Alfred helps him out of the abyss and Batman goes to his duplicant. Learning of what it had done he ponders whether the duplicant may have had a soul. "A soul of silicon, but a soul nonetheless".
- The creation of the Batman duplicant was first shown in "Heart of Steel".
- The Batman duplicant eventually returns in the Batman Beyond short "Batman Beyond", where he enlists an army of droids at the Batcave before fighting Bruce Wayne and his successor Terry McGinnis in a final fight. How it survived its destruction in the episode went unconfirmed, however.
Home video releases
- Batman: The Animated Series, Volume Three (DVD)
- Batman: The Complete Animated Series (DVD)
- Batman: The Complete Animated Series (Blu-ray)
- The countdown displayed on the Batcomputer changes color from red to gray throughout Batman's fight with the Batman duplicant.
- Title reference: Batman wonders if the H.A.R.D.A.C. duplicate was begining to have a soul.
- The Batman duplicant's face being half destroyed by a chemical thrown at him is reminiscent of Two-Face's Mainstream Comics facial scarring instead of the DC Animated Universe (and Nolan film The Dark Knight) explosion.
- H.A.R.D.A.C.'s plan to take over the defense systems of the world in order to gain control of it is similar to that of Skynet's plan in The Terminator movie series.
- Questioning whether or not synthetic life forms have souls is a key part of the Philip K. Dick story "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?". Ridley Scott's 1982 film Blade Runner, based on the novel, features William Sanderson, Karl Rossum's voice actor, as a designer of androids named J. F. Sebastian, who is similar to Rossum.
|Kevin Conroy||Bruce Wayne / Batman|
|Efrem Zimbalist, Jr.||Alfred|
|Bob Hastings||Commissioner Gordon|
|William Sanderson||Karl Rossum|
Rossum: You don't understand. You're not a man's mind in a robot's body. You're a robot, period.
Batman Duplicant: We will begin the replacement process with Batman.
Batman Duplicant: I cannot function as the Batman until you are deactivated.
Batman Duplicant: You cannot prevent the inevitable, Batman. H.A.R.D.A.C. is reborn, in the very image of the man who destroyed him.
Batman Duplicant: I know all your moves, Batman.
Batman Duplicant: Why do you resist? H.A.R.D.A.C.'s goals are identical to your own.
Batman: (after the Batman Duplicant hesitates to kill him) You can't do it. H.A.R.D.A.C. built you well. Perhaps even better than he could have imagined.
Batman Duplicant: NOOOOOO!! I've taken a life! I've killed a man. My city... my people... What have I done!?... NO!!!!
Batman: Could it be it had a soul, Alfred? A soul of silicon, but a soul nonetheless.