Batman Beyond – Etymology of Schway

Batman Beyond was a very successful cartoon show that remains a cult hit among those who were there. Today, we’re unveiling a word that is associated with the series and explain its etymology. The word is Schway

Batman Beyond, internationally known as Batman of the Future, ran originally from 1999 to 2001. The animated tv series ran for three seasons and saw Bruce Wayne retired and Gotham City without a Batman. One day, though, rebellious teenager Terry McGinnis accidentally found his way into the Batcave and ended up being put in a suit that not only amplified his physical strength and was loaded with gadgets, it also bore the Bat-Symbol.

Under the guidance of Bruce Wayne, Terry McGinnis began his tenure as The Dark Knight, fighting the Jokerz who are a gang of street thugs inspired by The Joker, the liquid villain Inque as well as a great many others.

What Made Batman Beyond Great

Batman Beyond had all the elements to be the typical 1990s made-for-children schlock. There was a reimagined Flash Gordon series, a Highlander set in the postapocalyptic future with a new immortal McLeod starring and of course James Bond Jr. in which James Bond’s nephew went to a school for secret agents.

But right from the get-go, Batman Beyond established itself as a show that way more thought-out than any of the other reboots, and better than most other cartoon shows that were on at the time.

Oh, and it had a really awesome intro by Kristopher Carter that won an Emmy Award.

Over the course of the show, the new Batman encountered many villains. There were the aforementioned Jokerz, the inexplicably blue and mute contract killer Curaré, people upgrading former villains’ technology, a bullied kid who can mentally control robots, a dead father and many many more. The show ran for four seasons and a movie. After it’s cancellation, Batman Beyond got a proper send-off on TV with a two part episode of Justice League Unlimited in which a whole new can of worms regarding Terry’s life was opened.

Beyond Batman Beyond

But the show’s story doesn’t stop there. There have been several comic books that aren’t set in regular DC Comics continuity. In it, Terry McGinnis goes on to become his own, independent hero. Bruce Wayne goes from a mentor to a partner to an estranged father figure. The comic book called Batman Beyond 2.0 ended in 2014 after 40 issues. Why? Because Terry McGinnis is being integrated into the main DC Universe during the events of the currently running comic book Future’s End

In addition to having remained a fan favourite show for 14 years, there was a character who made it big and became an internet meme. That man is Mad Stan, voiced by Henry Rollins whose solution to every problem that plagues Gotham is to blow it all up.

What did stick around as well as one word. That word is schway, a word that is used as a kind of descriptor of quality. For example: «That’s schway» is something like «That’s cool». And it’s that word why I’m writing this article here.

Schway: Etymology of a Made Up Word

It’s long been believed that schway was just a made up word that the producers and writers of the show just inserted to have their language sound a bit more futuristic. The problem is though, that that doesn’t quite check out. Because hardly any other word has been inserted into the language. So everything else is more or less standard English, with the exception of schway.

The key to the mystery is actually hidden in one of the very first frames of the intro. Remember how there’s a panning shot of Neo Gotham? And there’s this one skyscraper that looks like it could be right out of Blade Runner? What do you see on it?

Screengrab from the Intro of Batman Beyond

Screengrab from the Intro of Batman Beyond

That is Chinese. It’s 黄 which is the character for yellow.

batman_beyond_chinese_huang_yellow

黄 is Chinese for yellow and is pronounced huáng.

If we stick with Chinese and look at the phonetics of Schway, there’s exactly one word that would fit: 帅. That word translates to handsome, nice, smart or commander. In pinyin, romanized Chinese, this word is written as shuài. Pronounced as – you guessed it: Schway.

帅 is Chinese for handsome, nice and also commander. It's pronounced Schway

帅 is Chinese for handsome, nice and also commander. It’s pronounced Schway

China? Really? Yes. Because one of the great inspirations for Batman Beyond was Blade Runner by Ridley Scott. And in Blade Runner, the Chinese economy has grown so large that its language started to influence areas way outside China. In the USA, this led to a blending of languages.

Back to Batman Beyond. There are numerous Chinese influences in Gotham City’s architecture, mostly evident by buildings that sport Chinese characters as a kind of company logo.

About Dom

Possessing nigh-encyclopaedic knowledge when it comes to comic books and movies, Dom is one of the co-founders of the Uncanny Book-Club. He also enjoys movies, and going to the cinema.

2 Comments

  1. Granted, this probably isn’t the best article to make this comment, but-

    I’m glad I found this site, I feel smarter with every post my eyes devour haha

  2. Your explanation of shway makes sense, but Blade Runner showcases the influence of Japanese, not Chinese, culture on American society.

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