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On Leather Wings

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Batman: The Animated Series episode
On Leather Wings-Title Card
"On Leather Wings"
Airdate: September 6, 1992
Production Number: 1
Airdate Order: 2
Animation Services by: Spectrum Animation Studio
Written by: Mitch Brian
Directed by: Kevin Altieri
Episode images (7)

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

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

Plot

Manbat Strikes

Man-Bat strikes at his first victim.

Act one

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 The 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.

Act two

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 the zoo staff are somehow involved.

Langstrom transforms

Kirk Langstrom starts his transformation into Man-Bat.

Act three

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-Bat1

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

  • 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 inconsistencies

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

Trivia

  • This episode was the first one to feature Batman bleeding. Bruce Timm stated on the DVD commentary for this episode that he and Paul Dini fought with the censors to allow this shot, which was deemed inappropriate for younger viewers.
  • 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 saying "What's up, Doc?", Bugs Bunny's catchphrase.
  • Dr. March's line "They're survivors" of referring to bats was similarly said by Batman in Tim Burton's Batman that "They're great survivors".
  • This marks one of the very few times in the series where Batman speaks using Bruce Wayne's 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 in the end of the Justice League Unlimited episode "Epilogue" with Terry McGinnis. Also, 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 spoken.
  • In the Justice League Unlimited episode "Destroyer", Batman (voiced by Conroy) says the second to last line to Superman which mirrors Conroy voicing the second line of this episode.
  • The opening of the episode is also 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 in respect to 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

Quotes

(first lines of the series and the DCAU)
Police Blimp Co-Pilot: This is Gotham Air One reporting in. Things are actually quiet for once.
Police Blimp Pilot: (as the radar beeps) You see that?


Batman: (reads) Gotham Police declare war on Batman.
Alfred Pennyworth: 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.


Dr. March: You donate a few million and you think you own the place. I understand I'm the analyze something for you.
Bruce Wayne: Yeah, doc. See, I keep hearing squeaks in my chimney. And I found these in my empty fireplace. They look like hairs. I thought maybe you could tell me if I have a bat problem.
Dr. March: And what if they are bats, Mr. Wayne? What then? Destroy them like insects? We won't survive the next evolutionary cataclysm, but bats will! They're survivors, Mr. Wayne, not pests! You should understand that!



Previously produced episode:
None
Episodes of
Batman: The Animated Series
Next produced episode:
"Christmas With the Joker"
Previously aired episode:
"The Cat and The Claw, Part I"
Next aired episode:
"Heart of Ice"

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