To pretend that WB and DC's many, many Batman cartoons weren't at least partially designed to sell Mattel action figures would be naive. But usually they've tried to tell a good Batman story in each series, and get kids interested in the characters that way. Well, until this new direct-to-DVD animated movie, that is.
Batman Unlimited: Animal Instincts is due out on May 12th, and is based solely on Mattel's current — and kinda funky-looking — Batman Unlimited toyline, distinguished by the insane, misshapen Batman logo on his chest. As you can see from this first trailer, several of DC's animal-themed villains (including the Penguin, whose upper torso is now 5x the size of his lower torso) have banded together to do... something, and only Batman, his sidekicks Nightwing and Red Robin, his highly marketable friends Green Arrow and the Flash, and a variety of brightly colored, highly specialized Bat-suits can stop them! Also, Batman's robot wolf that turns into a motorcycle. Seriously, see for yourself:
In the final episode of Batman: The Brave and the Bold, writer/producer Paul Dini made a terrific joke about these sorts of purely mercenary cartoons, as "Neon Talking Super-Street Bat-Luge" Batman appears to save the day. Sometimes I wonder if Dini made a mistake, and Mattel executives didn't take the scene as a scathing critique that it was, and more of something they could bring to their animators and say, "See? Like this."