Just in time for Batman Day, Cartoonito and HBO Max are introducing the Bat Family and its colorful Rogues Gallery (and their sentient vehicles) to an all-new preschool audience with the half-hour special, Secret Origin of the Batwheels.
With an all-star voice cast — including Ethan Hawke as Batman, Leah Lewis as Batgirl, and AJ Hudson as Robin — the real stars of the series are the Bat-vehicles, led by Jacob Bertrand as the Batmobile, aka Bam.
The special begins after Batman’s greatest villains — Joker, Harley, Penguin, Mr. Freeze, and Riddler — are on the run after a successful heist. Of course, the Bat Family are in hot pursuit and not only are we introduced to these iconic characters reinterpreted for the preschool genre, we get to see the (pre-sentient) versions of the vehicles too (including Penguin driving a giant rubber duckie in homage to Danny DeVito’s ride in that kids classic, Batman Returns).
After the villains are defeated, Batman and company are lured into a trap limo, and it’s up to the Batcomputer (aka BC) to bring Bam to life and rescue our heroes, but not before a robot named Crash infiltrates the Batcave and makes off with the same technology used to bring the Bat vehicles to life.
All in all, Batwheels successfully accomplishes what it sets out to do: introduce the colorful characters of Gotham to a new generation of three- and four-year-olds who will grow up to be life long Bat-fans. Much like the Super Friends series of my youth, it’s always best to hook the kids when they’re young, and Batwheels does just that!
Celebrate Batman Day when Secret Origin of the Batwheels will premiere as part of the Cartoonito block on Cartoon Network and HBO Max on September 17.