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"On Leather Wings"
Batman: The Animated Series episode
Episode no. Season 1
Episode 1
Written by Mitch Brian
Directed by Kevin Altieri
Original airdate September 6, 1992
Episode chronology
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"n/a" "Christmas with the Joker"
List of Batman: The Animated Series episodes

On Leather Wings is the pilot episode of Batman: The Animated Series. It first aired on September 6, 1992. It was written by Mitch Brian and directed by Kevin Altieri. This was the first episode of the series to feature the villain Man-Bat and was also Man-Bat's first screen appearance. In comics, Man-Bat first appeared in 1970. Although "On Leather Wings" was the first episode of the series to be produced, it was the second to be broadcast, following "The Cat and the Claw, Part 1," which premiered just the day before.


Plot summary

Gotham City's main chemical lab is broken into and robbed by, what the only guard who saw the incident claimed, a large bat-like creature. The next morning, the newspapers claim that the Gotham police force have declared war on Batman. Commissioner Gordon is angered by this statement as he doesn't believe the Dark Knight is guilty, but Detective Bullock convinces the mayor that he can capture Batman, and is granted his own SWAT team and legal clearance from the district attorney Harvey Dent. The following night, Batman visits the heavily guarded crime scene, but is spotted and the police arrive soon afterwards. He collects a sample of hair from the scene and also finds an audio tape made by the guard who saw the incident. Bullock has the building surrounded and sends in his SWAT team to take down Batman. Gordon then arrives on the scene where he tells Bullock that Batman has also been sighted robbing a pharmacy on the other side of town, and that it may not be the Caped Crusader who is the thief of the chemical lab. Batman escapes the building without detection.

The next day, Bruce Wayne visits Gotham Zoo to meet with head zoologist Dr. March. He tells March that he has a bat problem and asks him to analyse the hair sample and audio tape he recovered. March tells him that the sound on the audio tape is of brown bats and starlings, however the Batcave's computer says different. Suspecting March may be up to something, Batman heads back to Gotham Zoo to confront him. He instead finds March's son-in-law Dr. Kirk Langstrom, who tells him March is not there. Langstrom also reveals that his wife Francine and March had been testing a new medicine on bats that they were afraid to test on humans, but Kirk tried it on himself anyway and it causes him to become the Man-Bat. The chemicals he stole from the chemical plant and pharmacy were the ones he needed to make the change permanent. He swallows the two chemicals in front of Batman and becomes the Man-Bat once more. Francine bursts in shortly after he changes and Langstrom flies away in shame

Man-Bat and Batman grapple in the air and are spotted by a police blimp. Gordon and Bullock head to the scene, where Batman forces the Man-Bat to fly head first into a wall, he then carries the unconscious Man-Bat off to the Batcave. Having analysed the list of stolen chemicals, Batman concocts an antidote. He returns Langstrom in his human form to Gotham Zoo, where Francine is waiting for him. Batman tells her that the chemical is out of Kirk's system and that "he's safe. For now"


Bruce Timm states he wanted this series to focus on "mystery, mood, drama as well as super hero action sequences"[1] and that Man-Bat fit into those categories perfectly. In an interview, he says, "Man-Bat was chosen specifically [for the first episode] because he wasn't familiar to very many people outside of comic book fans. Nobody had any preconceived notions about him. It wasn't like the Joker, where you had to deal with people expecting him to be Jack Nicholson or Cesar Romero."[2]

This is also the only episode of the series where a character (Batman) was seen bleeding. It was never done again as parents thought it disturbing for young children to see. This is also one of three episodes where Alfred Pennyworth was not voiced by Efrem Zimbalist Jr., as Clive Revill was originally cast in the role.[3]


Lon Grahnke of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the episode two stars, but added that his six-year old son thought the premiere was "awesome".[4] Jim Bullard of the St. Petersburg Times wrote, "The episode is extremely well written and drawn - an unusual combination in cartoons. The result is a unique, memorable style."[5]


Actor Role
Kevin Conroy Bruce Wayne / Batman
Marc Singer Kirk Langstrom / Man-Bat
Clive Revill Alfred Pennyworth
Bob Hastings James Gordon
Robert Costanzo Harvey Bullock
Richard Moll Harvey Dent
Meredith MacRae Francine Langstrom
Rene Auberjonois Dr. March
Lloyd Bochner Mayor Hill


  1. ^ Batman:The Animated Series The Legend Begins DVD
  2. ^ Interview with Eric Nolen-Weathington. Modern Masters Volume 3. TwoMorrows Publishing, 2004. 42.
  3. ^;notes;see_all_link#notes
  4. ^ Lon Grahnke. "Watch It! Warnings and Recommendations". Chicago Sun-Times. September 3, 1992. 43.
  5. ^ Jim Bullard. "Drawn to Batman? Series". St. Petersburg Times. September 4, 1992. 12.

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