When asked to list things that DC does right, their animation department usually makes the top of said list. Since the 90s you could rely on them to bring you not just fun and exciting episodes, but also authentic interpretations of the characters we know and love. The cartoon movies and TV shows are proof that you can bring a great story from page to screen without gutting what makes it special to begin with.
Recently, DC has moved into a market of bringing us standalone animated movies, usually reflecting what was going on in their comics. Much like how Marvel does it, but only in reverse — Marvel’s movies tend to affect how their books unfold. With all of DC’s effort seemingly focused on animated features, however, their animated TV shows seemed to take a back seat, leaving us with the much-too-short Young Justice and the overly stylized Teen Titans Go. The former was right on the mark, and should have been around longer, and I have no idea how the latter even got a green light, but that’s just my opinion.
The best stuff to come out of the DC animation department has to be Justice League: Gods and Monsters. Brought to us by Bruce Timm, one half of the creative team that brought us the original Batman: The Animated Series, Gods and Monsters hit on all cylinders.
Of course not all of the DC animated movies have recently hit the mark. The first that comes to mind is Son of Batman, where they twisted around Deathstroke’s background just to fit him into the story. There have been more hits than misses though, which shows that DC knows how to put together a great film that honors the established material.
It’s with this in mind that I look forward to the upcoming new animated series on Cartoon Network, Justice League Action. The first images that dance through my head are those from the great animated series we got back in the 90s, granted that soon gets tempered by the fact that each episode of the new series will be doled out in 11 minute “mini shows,” just like Teen Titans Go and Batman: The Brave and the Bold.
There is nothing wrong with those series, especially if you like your superhero animation with a large does of humor, but I would like to see a more serious take. It remains to be seen if the new Justice League will follow suit, and be humor based, but the length of the mini episodes doesn’t point to a more serious take.
One thing that DC animation has done right by the new series is to round up some great voice talent. Mark Hamill, the best Joker voice ever, will be back — as will Kevin Conroy, who has done the best job at voicing Batman in my opinion. They are also bringing on James Woods to voice Lex Luthor, another great casting call, and Diedrich Bader as Booster Gold, who will be perfect. Who knows who else they will grab to do voice work for the show, but so far it looks good in that department.
In the end, I have to say, I would prefer that the new animated series be a serious affair. The fact that Teen Titans Go has had such a long run suggests, however, that there is an audience who enjoys a more frivolous show; sadly I’m not one of them.