Marvel Comics have managed to set up their own Cinematic Universe since the first Iron Man movie. In this issue, we’ve even looked at the triumphant result of what is called ‘Phase One’ of this universe – The Avengers. Logically, there must be those of you who are wondering what has happened to DC Comics in all this. Well, they’re getting there, very slowly, but they did already have a shared universe for their creations. It was known as the DC Animated Universe, or the Timm-verse, after Bruce Timm who was largely in charge for these creations. Primarily aimed at children, these cartoons managed to bring the full scope of what we knew from the comics, and relate it to their audience without ever speaking down to them. Now, since we’ve looked at The Avengers, let’s look at DC’s counterpart for them: Justice League.
Justice League, retitled Justice League Unlimited in its last three seasons, originally took seven heroes, and looked at how they worked together against various different evil doers. These original seven were: Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Green Lantern, Hawkgirl, and the Martian Manhunter. Once the first two seasons had past, they expanded, bringing in just about every character they could from DC Comics – though sadly, you won’t find much appearance from any of the supporting Batman cast or enemies, due to the ‘Bat embargo’ that was happening at the same time. This was due to the development of a new Batman cartoon, and Google is your friend here people, I’ll probably mess up the finer details. I shall say that the rare occasions the Joker showed up? They were superb.
From a design point of view, the look of the show is very… clean. All solid lines, bright colours, and clear character designs that make it a visual pleasure. It’s also meant that the look of the show has aged quite well, with not really much dating it. Since this was something that was made as consistent as possible across the entire DCAU due to the same creative team behind the majority of shows, it does make it a great thing to watch. Yes, the art did evolve, but it remained recognisable, and you never tuned in to find the characters had undergone a complete revamp, leaving you slightly confused as to why. (I’m looking at you, B:TAS).
Again, this series was primarily intended for a younger audience, but that didn’t mean that they would talk down, or simplify their plots or characters. While, yes, some aspects may have been edited to fit better within the context of the show and the time it would be airing at, the episodes which are adaptations of comic story lines held up very well in comparison to their origins. They complimented the source material, not insulted it. Actually, fun fact, the episode ‘The Man Who Has Everything’ was adapted from an Alan Moore story. Moore is famous for disliking the majority of adaptations of his work, and keeping his name from being associated with them. In the case of this episode? He happily lets his name be associated. Yeah, the DCAU managed what various films haven’t been able to do. Says a lot, doesn’t it?
It’s clear that the creative team, and voice acting crew, and well pretty much everyone who worked on the cartoon, had only the greatest respect for what they were putting out. They worked hard on every episode, and you can see over the course of the whole show, the writing improving, the stakes being higher, and the team constantly ever pushing the boundaries of what was acceptable for a ‘kids cartoon.’ If the DCAU proved anything to a mainstream audience, it was that cartoons need not be ‘just for kids’.
So yes, this is one of those that I would say if you get the chance to check it out, grab it with both hands. It is well worth just taking some time to yourself, and sitting and watching a few episodes. You will be entertained. Promise. … Unless you’re primarily a Marvel fan, in which case… check out X-Men, that’s fun too!
Z McAspurren (…Justice League need a cool little catch phrase.)