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"Zatanna" is the fiftieth episode of Batman: The Animated Series and originally aired on February 2, 1993. It introduces magician Zatanna, making her the first superhero guest star of the DC Animated Universe.
Bruce Wayne and Alfred are in the audience for a show put on by the magician Zatanna. She dazzles the audience with a few simple tricks, but Bruce's real focus is on Zatanna herself. Alfred reminds Bruce of his past acquaintance with Zatanna and her father, and Bruce begins to reminisce about his training days with the pair.
A teenaged Zatanna watches eagerly as a young Bruce (under the alias "John Smith") struggles to escape from a straitjacket and chains, while hanging upside down. He manages the feat in less than a minute, and her father, Zatara, proudly informs him that he's beaten his old time by several seconds. But she is upset to overhear that "John" will be leaving soon. Zatara wonders why he would be so determined to become an escape artist, yet have no interest in performing on the stage—and even more remarkable, Zatara laughs, the elder magician ended up sharing the deepest secrets of his art, sensing something of the young man's tragic past (though he refrains from prying into the secrets he knows "John" is hiding). Zatara ejects Zatanna from her eavesdropping spot, and then makes a graceful exit.
Zatanna is upset that John will not be finishing the tour with them, since she has become strongly attracted to him. John explains that he has to move on to the next stage of his training, and will be leaving for Japan the next day. She encourages him to loosen up a little and pulls him into a friendly hug. Softening, he promises to write to her—before she ducks out of his grip and reveals that she's handcuffed his wrist to the wall. With a laugh, she predicts that he'll be missing his plane, then turns away, joking that even a halfway-competent escape artist should be able to get out of the cuffs and be gone by the time she's finished speaking—then turns and sees that "John" has done just that.
Back in the present, Zatanna prepares for her grand finale and brings two special guests on stage with her: Dr. Montague Kane, a wealthy adventurer whose hobby is debunking magicians' acts, and Irving Fauncewater, the manager of the Gotham Mint. For her finale, Zatanna announces that she plans to make $10 million in cash, newly stored inside the Mint, disappear without trace, and challenges that even Kane won't be able to figure out how she did it.
She fires out a bolt of electricity from her staff and not only the money, but the Mint itself, disappears. Kane graciously admits defeat, admitting that he has no idea how she could have done it. With another bolt, she makes the Mint return, but to her shock, the money is gone. Zatanna pleads innocence, but Fauncewater calls the police to arrest her.
Bruce is sure that Zatanna has been framed, and the real thief will get away if the police waste their time on interrogating her. Batman leaps onto the paddy wagon and frees her.
Zatanna is unsure if the escape was a good idea as she's now a fugitive from the law. Batman assures her that he can help prove her innocent. The two go back to the Mint, where Zatanna is chagrined to hear that Batman already figured out how her trick was worked: a hologram of the Mint was turned on and off to look as though it disappeared and then re-appeared. However, someone tampered with her trick—the money was stolen the night before, and then a hologram was projected to make it look as if it was still there. Batman quickly deduces that Kane is the most likely suspect, and he must have figured out in advance how Zatanna planned to work her illusion.
While driving to Kane's mansion, Batman inquires gently whether she has any loved ones (such as a husband) that may be worrying about her. Zatanna says she's too busy for a relationship, since its her responsibility to keep the family act going since Zatara has passed on. Batman offers his condolences, then quickly covers by saying he saw Zatara perform as a child. Zatanna says she has a feeling they've met before, and Batman ducks the question as they make it to Kane's house.
Kane has been expecting them, however, and leaves a fake mannequin in the room. Batman and Zatanna realize that it's a trap and attempt to escape the room, but they fall through a trapdoor into a room with spiked walls closing in on them. Batman manages to disable the trap by removing a spike and jamming it into the gears, slowing the movement of the walls just long enough for them to climb the spikes and out of the trap door. Finding a picture of a large seaplane, Batman realizes where Kane has gone and goes after him.
Batman and Zatanna confront Kane aboard the plane. Unfazed, Kane sets his two goons on them. Batman is easily able to hold his own against the thugs, but Kane seizes Zatanna, forcing Batman to surrender. Kane, charmed by Zatanna's beauty, smarmily offers to spare her life for the right incentive—which she responds to by grinding her stiletto heel, hard, into his foot.
Kane's goons chain her and Batman together, preparing to toss them off the cargo ramp into the sky. Batman whispers to her to reach into his glove, adding, "trust me, Zanna" (which she realizes was "John Smith"'s pet name for her). She surreptitiously removes a lock pick from his glove, and begins to work on the chains. Before she is finished, they are both shoved out of the plane. Batman grabs a length of webbing with his foot, causing them to hang in midair. Kane begins to cut the webbing with a sword cane, but Batman lassoes him with the chains and pulls him out the door. Hanging desperately onto the net, Kane tells his men to stop firing their guns, and climbs back into the plane, shutting the cargo door before Batman and Zatanna can make it there.
With Batman and Zatanna climbing up the outer side of the hull, Kane jumps into the pilot's chair and begins tilting and juking the plane to shake them off. They are able to hang on, and Kane sends his thugs after them. Batman easily defeats both of them, throwing them off the plane (which is now at a low enough altitude for them to land safely in the ocean). Believing that the falling screams he heard came from his enemies, Kane relaxes—only to turn and see Zatanna standing there, before she decks him with a right cross.
On the ground, Kane and his thugs are taken into custody by the police. Batman and Zatanna walk alone, catching up. Batman apologizes for not writing like he promised, but she forgives him, finding it easy to see how busy he's been. She adds some words of encouragement, including that her father would have been so proud of his work that night. Batman returns the compliment, and turns to the Batmobile to offer her a ride home—but she disappears in a puff of smoke behind his back, leaving only a flyer with her picture on it, and a note from her wishing him luck and holding him to his promise to write to her.
- Young Bruce tells Zatanna that he has to leave for Japan, placing his training with Zatara before his training with Yoru Sensei and Kyodai Ken seen in "Night of the Ninja".
- Zatanna appears as a guest at Bruce's wedding in The New Batman Adventures, "Chemistry", indicating that she has connected "John Smith" with Bruce Wayne.
- Zatanna re-appears in Justice League Unlimited, this time having real magic powers.
- Bruce's successful "Houdini Straitjacket Escape" shown during the flashback of his time with Zatara may explain how he was successful in escaping the "Water Torture Cell" he was placed in by the Joker in "Be A Clown".
Home video releases
- Batman: The Animated Series, Volume Two (DVD)
- Batman: The Complete Animated Series (DVD)
- Batman: The Complete Animated Series (Blu-ray)
- This and "Night of the Ninja" are the two episodes that show a young Bruce Wayne training.
- Vincent Schiavelli, who voices Zatara, is one of only five actors from Batman: The Animated Series who also appeared in one of the four Burton/Schumacher live-action Batman movies—in his case, Batman Returns.
- The spiked pit appears to be a tribute to a similar scene from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.
- Alfred asks whether Bruce last saw Zatanna 10 or 12 years ago, which Bruce seemingly confirms to be the latter or even longer. This gives something of a time frame for certain events of Bruce's life,
- At one point, Kane refers to Batman as "Detective". This may or may not be a reference to Ra's al Ghul, who always calls Batman "Detective" and is in this series voiced by David Warner, who is good friends with and uses an accent and manner very similar to Michael York.
- When Zatanna attempts to guess Bruce's future, she guesses Bruce has a two hearts card, but he ends up having a Joker Card. Even though Bruce says he doesn't know the future, a Joker would ultimately have a major impact on Bruce's future.
|Efrem Zimbalist, Jr.||Alfred|
|Bruce W. Timm||Red|
|Michael York||Dr. Montague Kane|
Bruce: It was an honor to study with you, Zatara.
Zatanna: What do you care about some leggy dame in nylons? Or have I answered my own question?
Batman: You're sure there's nobody you want to call? A friend, relative... a husband, maybe?
Zatanna: Oh sure, take all the mystery out of life.
Zatanna: So... you never wrote.
Zatanna: What happened that made you put this on?