DC Animated Universe
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"On Leather Wings" is the second-aired episode of Batman: The Animated Series, though the first to be produced. It is the first episode of the DCAU.

A mysterious creature is mistaken for Batman, and the police send a task force after the Dark Knight.

Plot[]

Man-Bat strikes

Man-Bat strikes at his first victim.

All seems quiet in Gotham City, until a half-bat/half-human creature ghosts past the Gotham Air One police blimp, breaks into Phoenix Pharmaceuticals, and assaults a security guard before stealing assorted chemicals from the laboratories. This is the latest in a series of such break-ins at pharmaceutical companies.

The report from the blimp and the wounded security guard leads Detective Harvey Bullock, after an unauthorized interview with Gotham Glazer, to petition Mayor Hamilton Hill for a special task force designed to eliminate the strange "Batman" that has appeared around the city. Commissioner James Gordon objects, stating that the police are already on the case, but the mayor grants the request and D.A. Harvey Dent promises Bullock immunity.

In the days following the Phoenix break-in, Batman investigates the robberies. Sneaking into the crime scene by dosing the guarding police officer with knock-out gas, Batman is spotted by two scientists. They notify the police, and Bullock radios for his squad to join him at the scene.

Batman investigates and discovers an audio tape of the creature as well as some hair samples. The police task force tries ineffectively to trap him at the crime scene but ends up merely blowing out the third floor of the building, allowing Batman to escape with the samples.

As Bruce Wayne, Batman takes the samples to the Bat Exhibit at the Gotham Zoo, where he meets a married couple on staff, Drs. Kirk Langstrom and Francine Langstrom, and her father Dr. March. Dr. March seems quite obsessed with bats, which he insists are the only creatures able to survive the next evolutionary cataclysm, while humans aren't. Bruce asks the zoologists to analyze the evidence from the crime scene, passing it off as a pest problem at Wayne Manor.

In the Batcave, the Bat-Computer has failed to match either the sounds or the hairs with any species known to man. Dr. March calls back and gives a perfectly plausible scientific explanation: the hairs are from a common brown bat, while the sounds are actually a mixture of sounds from the bats and a nest of starlings fighting in the chimney. The explanation proves false, given the Bat-Computer's inability to find a match with either species. Batman concludes that March is lying, and that the zoo staff is somehow involved.

Langstrom transforms

Kirk Langstrom starts his transformation into Man-Bat.

Later that night, Batman enters the zoo laboratory and finds Kirk working alone. Working from his father-in-law's theories, Kirk has created a formula that temporarily transforms him into a Man-Bat creature. Kirk has become addicted to the formula, to the point where he thinks of the Man-Bat as its own independent being, taking the necessary steps to continue its existence, such as stealing the chemicals necessary to keep making the formula. Now that he has destroyed Batman's evidence, Kirk is only one component away from a formula that will make the transformation permanent, but now Batman has interrupted the process.

Man-Bat

The Man-Bat prepares to strike.

Then Kirk finally transforms and attacks. When the first Man-Bat recoils at the sight of his wife who came to his lab, he leaves in shame. In the fight, the Man-Bat drags Batman through the sky across half of Gotham. Both of them fly past Gotham Air One, allowing Gordon and Bullock to see that the Man-Bat and Batman were in fact two different people.

Batman manages to subdue the Man-Bat. Taking him to the Batcave, he analyzes the chemical makeup of the formula and reverses the transformation. He then delivers an unconscious but fully restored Kirk to his grateful wife.

Continuity[]

Background information[]

Home video releases[]

Production notes[]

  • Act one and part of act three were storyboarded by Brad Rader, who eventually in 1992 shortened pieces of the episode into a comic pitch, which he showed to Martin Pasko. Pasko informed Rader that DC was already working on the Batman Adventures tie-in comics and told him he could get in on the action, landing him the role of interior artist for Issues #4-6.[1]
  • This episode was the first one to feature Batman bleeding. Alan Burnett has stated "the network started to pull back on the amount of blood, scratches, and abrasions we can have. The first episode almost used up our whole quota!"[2] Bruce Timm later added on the DVD commentary for this episode that he fought with the censors to allow this shot, which was deemed inappropriate for younger viewers.
  • Although this was the first episode made, the first aired episode of the series was "The Cat and the Claw, Part I", likely due to the success of Batman Returns.
  • Danny Elfman's theme from the first Batman movie is strongly used in one scene.

Production gallery[]

Unused designs[]

Storyboards[]

Production inconsistencies[]

  • In the robbery report on the Batcomputer, the Carson Chemicals burglary is misspelled "buaglary".

Trivia[]

  • Bruce Timm has stated that he believes this to be one of the "quintessential" episodes of Batman: The Animated Series. "It's got almost everything in it that you want: the mood, the mystery, and Batman's really cool."[3]
  • Producer Eric Radomski says in the commentary that he had a crush on Meredith MacRae, the voice of Francine Langstrom.
  • Batman answers Dr. March's phone call in Bugs Bunny's catchphrase, saying "What's up, Doc?"
  • Dr. March's line "They're survivors" referring to bats was similarly said by Batman in Tim Burton's Batman "They're great survivors".
  • This marks one of the very few times in the series where Batman speaks using his Bruce Wayne voice, which later happens again in "Heart of Steel, Part I".
  • For the Batman Beyond episode "Splicers", Will Friedle was given a tape of this episode to help him prepare for voicing Terry McGinnis's Man-Bat transformation.
  • This episode's opening where Man-Bat's flying through Gotham is reversed shot for shot at the end of the Justice League Unlimited episode "Epilogue" with Terry McGinnis. Furthermore, the blimp pilot (voiced by Kevin Conroy) who asks, "Did you see that" is mirrored by a Gotham police officer (also voiced by Conroy) asking the same question as the last line is spoken.
  • The opening of the episode is mirrored in the opening scene of the Supernatural episode "Like A Virgin" with a small plane passenger asking the pilot if they "saw that" flying outside the window that looked like a large bat. Perhaps referencing this, Batman is mentioned later in the episode.

Cast[]

Actor Role
Kevin Conroy Bruce Wayne/Batman
Police Blimp Pilot (uncredited)
Bob Hastings Commissioner Gordon
Richard Moll Harvey Dent
Security Guard (uncredited)
Batcomputer (uncredited)
Lloyd Bochner Mayor Hill
Robert Costanzo Detective Bullock
Clive Revill Alfred Pennyworth
Police Blimp Radioman (uncredited)
Marc Singer Kirk Langstrom/Man-Bat
Rene Auberjonois Dr. March
Pat Musick Female Lab Technician
Meredith MacRae Francine Langstrom

Uncredited Appearances[]

  • Police Blimp Co-Pilot
  • Dispatcher

Quotes[]

Batman: (reads) Gotham Police declare war on Batman.
Alfred: I gather you've been reading, How to Make Friends and Influence People.
Batman: Somebody's setting me up.
Alfred: My heavens! You mean it wasn't you tossing guards out of windows last night?
Batman: I only toss butlers, Alfred.

(Batman is playing the recordings of the Man-Bat's screeches.)
Alfred: I didn't realize you'd taken an interest in rock 'n roll, sir.
Batman: You know, I actually did run this against any musical composition. The computer still can't come close to pinpointing it.

References[]

  1. "ON LEATHER WINGS, PART ONE" by Brad Rader - Rader of the Lost Art (June 27, 2016)
  2. "Animated Knights" by Pat Jankiewicz - Comics Scene Magazine #29 (October 1992)
  3. "Episode Guide" - Cinefantastique Vol. 24 #6/Vol. 25 #1 (February 1994)
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