Warning: This article contains spoilers for Batman Beyond #49 by Dan Jurgens and Paul Pelletier
As Amanda Waller once told an adult Terry McGinnis, you can’t be Batman without tragedy. This proved true when the murder of Terry’s father Warren McGinnis was the primary motivation for Terry to assume the mantle of Batman Beyond. Thanks to Booster Gold and his knowledge of time travel, Terry just had the opportunity to meet his father as a child and this Back to the Future-like encounter not only supposedly saved Terry’s timeline, but helped DC Comics rewrite his origin story to ensure that he would always become Batman.
In the Batman Beyond television series, Warren McGinnis discovered from a colleague that Derek Powers, the leader of the conglomerated Wayne-Powers, was preparing to manufacture illegal biological weapons and wanted to report him. Meanwhile, Warren’s rebellious son Terry had a terrible run-in with the Neo-Gotham gang called the Jokerz which was stopped by the intervention of Bruce Wayne, who Terry would learn was once the legendary Batman. Returning to find his home vandalized and his father murdered, Terry originally blamed the Jokerz, believing it to be some sort of twisted payback. Upon learning the truth, Terry stole a prototype Batsuit to expose Powers and bring his father’s real killer to justice. With his father’s death avenged and Powers’ plan thwarted, Terry later accepted Bruce’s offer to be his personal assistant by day and to succeed him as Batman, under his supervision.
In the ‘Canceled by Yesterday’ storyline, Booster Gold saves Terry McGinnis from a Bruce Wayne gone mad. Bruce’s violent personality change is thanks to a telekinetic suggestion planted in his brain years ago by a supervillain. Terry and Booster travel back to modern day Gotham to prevent this from happening while avoiding any run-ins with Bruce Wayne or anything that would jeopardize the timeline. Naturally they can’t resist playing hero and Terry ends up saving a child who turns out to be a young version of his father Warren. While Batman and Booster fight the villain Blanque, a powerful telekinetic who is supposedly responsible for everything, Terry struggles to protect his father while not revealing what he knows of their future.
In such a short amount of time, Dan Jurgens uses one of his best-known characters to present one of the hardest challenges about time travel – wanting to use your knowledge of the future to change your past for the better. Although Terry’s intentions are good and understandable, his obligation as a hero has him rise above any self-centered desires and save the day. As the surrounding fires act as a smokescreen, he helps Booster defeat Blanque. After saying goodbye to his father, Terry returns to a changed timeline where Bruce is fine and readers learn the entire situation was a ruse with a specific purpose.
As Bruce explains to an older and far more responsible Booster Gold, the entire situation had to be concocted so that Terry would go back in time and meet his father. The positive experience taught Warren about the importance of doing the right thing regardless of its personal cost, something he confided in his journals, which later ended up in Bruce Wayne’s possession. Dan Jurgens rewrote it so that without Warren meeting his future son, he wouldn’t have had the courage to investigate his findings at Wayne-Powers. Terry McGinnis was always destined to become Batman Beyond and to change that would now require literally changing time.