Batman: The Animated Series – Season 1, Episode 38, 39 – Heart of Steel – H.A.R.D.A.C. and the Beginnings of Batgirl


“Heart of Steel,” is the “2001: A Space Odyssey” inspired episode, given that H.A.R.D.A.C. the A.I. is similar in it’s drive to erase human error and even it’s voice is reminiscent of HAL. It also introduces us to Barbara Gordon and foreshadows her role as Batgirl. The story begins when some computer chips are stolen by a robot from Wayne Enterprise’s…from there Bruce Wayne traces it to Rossum’s lab…and from here the story unfolds.

Here is my assessment of the episode:

Pros: H.A.R.D.A.C. – Is a great baddie. From using robots to replace people and inflitrating the Bat Cave and Batman’s computer via his assistant…I can see why they chose to keep H.A.R.D.A.C. around after he was defeated. He was a worthy and interesting foe since he saw how the loss of his creator’s daughter had lead to his creation in the first place, and how this sentiment wasn’t improving him.

Barbara Gordon – Is awesome! She saves Batman in this episode and we see how resourceful she is when she breaks into Rossum’s lab and takes on robots…as well as figuring out her father was replaced by one.

Batman/Bruce Wayne – Except for him falling for the obvious robot Randa (H.A.R.D.A.C.’s assistant) he is pretty great in this episode. When he is fighting his own technology is one of the moments where his strength and creativity really shine through and he manages to defeat H.A.R.D.A.C. in a worthy fashion.

Okay/Good – The music is decent but not great in this episode. It definitely keeps to the sci. fi. theme of the episode.

The story – Is also okay to good…H.A.R.D.A.C. elevates a cliche plot into a great episode. Smart A.I. is hard to pull off since it has to be unique in it’s drive and how it uses the programs and tech at it’s disposal. This episode accomplishes that…and could have been even bigger than Gotham. It’s a shame he was never brought back for “Justice League”…though this short from “Batman Beyond” leaves me hope he is still alive:

This episode became one of my favorites after today. Which says a lot for it…when I saw it years ago it hadn’t been all that memorable…especially compared to the Major Rogues gallery episodes or Team Batman centered episodes…but it deserves it’s spot up there with them.

My final score for this episode is 9.5 / 10

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