At some point, you’ve got to believe that WB/DC is just messing with us, right? Surely, they wouldn’t quietly cancel a beloved animated series like Young Justice after two seasons of horribly sporadic airings on Cartoon Network (which is owned by WB), squash a well-organized fan effort to revive the show Kickstarter-style, and then turn around and give us a live-action version of that very show?
“Bleeding Cool has been led to believe by a recently-reliable source that the CW is developing another live action teen drama/romance series with a superhero twist, based on the Young Justice cartoon, games and comics, being prepped for 2015. And yes, with Superboy and Miss Martian as the leads of The Team”
Well, that settles it, then. A live-action Young Justice TV show is totally a sure thing by 2015. Rejoice, rejoice! Yeah, not so much. This is still very little to go off of, even if Bleeding Cool has been a reliable source in the past. It’s just enough to get us talking but not enough to know for sure if we should even be talking about this at all.
What was Young Justice?
Inspired by disparate eras of both the Teen Titans and Young Justice comic books, Young Justice was not a direct adaptation of any one source but instead a general interpretation of the entirety of D.C. comic book superheroes. Set in a present day time which has only just recently become aware of superheroes, the Young Justice squad of sidekicks functioned as the B-squad to the Justice League. The heroes were initially the Dick Grayson Robin, a new version of Aqualad, the Wally West Kid Flash, Artemis and Speedy (Green Arrow’s sidekicks), Superboy (he’s a clone of Superman who doesn’t age), and Miss Martian (Martian Manhunter’s sidekick).
The show’s roster expanded to include many, many more, especially after it jumped ahead 5 years in-between its first and second season. Though the show focused on its collection of sidekicks, Justice League members like Superman, Batman, Black Canary, Green Arrow, Red Tornado, The Flash, Martian Manhunter, and Captain Marvel all made multiple appearances. In fact, throughout the first season the Young Justice squad routinely receive their orders from Batman, kind of like Charlie to their Angels.
It was hailed by many as easily the best thing in all of DC animation since Justice League Unlimited, perhaps even better in fact. Heck, it even won an Emmy for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Animation in 2011. However, perhaps its endless parade of new comic book characters and increasingly complicated serialized plotting was too much for the average viewer, especially considering Cartoon Network’s target demographic. It sure didn’t help that Cartoon Network would pull the show from their schedule for months at a time for no obvious reason. Either way, Young Justice was canceled alongside Green Lantern in March of this year, replaced by Beware the Batman (which was pulled from the air after only a couple of episodes) and Teen Titans Go!. Relatedly, the Young Justice comic book series, which tied in with the show, was also canceled due to poor sales, and the tie-in video game, Young Justice: Legacy, repeatedly delayed before being released to generally terrible reviews just two weeks ago.
How Would They Even Do a Live-Action Version of Young Justice?
The obvious answer would be for it to be a spin-off of Arrow, since they already have Colton Haynes around as Roy Harper and continually leaves it open for Oliver Queen’s sister Thea to also evolve into a vigilante sidekick. They could also establish Wally West as Kid Flash on the Flash TV show, assuming that actually gets picked up by the CW, and then transition him onto Young Justice. Plus, Young Justice took place in a time in which human awareness of superpowers was extremely new, and it’s about to be 2014 and Arrow is only just now introducing superpowers meaning they’d still be relatively new by the time a 2015 Young Justice show came along.
However, the animated series had complete access to every aspect of DC canon whereas a live action series certainly wouldn’t be able to feature Superman, Batman, and others based upon how WB likes to hold certain characters back for film-only. That’s what makes it vaguely surprising they would even be allowed to use Superboy. Plus, there are some serious budgetary limitations. As argued by ScreenRant:
“Superpowers. They’re hard to do on TV budgets – and doing them with multiple characters would be a true feat. Avoiding them entirely – or minimizing them to camera tricks or sparse use – runs the risk of underwhelming the viewers. No demographic would be served by a show that is 3/4 teen soap and 1/4 superpowers. Nobody needs that. Smallville once tried to feature its own version of a Justice League in a story arc. I say ‘tried’ because the results definitely looked more like an attempt than an accomplishment.”
Smallville is the obvious comparison to make, but the better one is likely to The Tomorrow People. This UK remake which is enjoying its first season on CW and shares some producers with Arrow is doing an X-Men type of thing centered on a group of impossibly attractive people in their late teens/early twenties who have superpowers like telekinesis. So far, their budget has not betrayed them, as they’ve kept the displays of superpowers to a minimum and simply used a lot of camera tricks and creative editing. One would imagine a Young Justice show looking a lot like The Tomorrow People. Heck, a consistent element of Young Justice had Miss Martian linking everyone’s minds on away missions so they could converse without actually speaking while behind enemy lines. The Tomorrow People features this same exact conceit, with a particularly strong female telepathic character linking minds and conversing via voice-over from the actors.
It’s still a long way to 2015, and this is a mere rumor at this point. Frankly, a lot of Young Justice fans would probably just have preferred a third season of the show since it ended not on a note of resolution but instead on a “if they hadn’t canceled us the stuff we were about to do looked amazing, right?”
Young Justice is merely rumored at this point, but shows which WB/DC is confirmed to be developing include Flash (a spin-off of Arrow), Gotham (about Detective Jim Gordon and the Gotham Police Department before Batman showed up), Constantine (hopefully better than the Keanu Reeves movie), Hourman, and iZombie. Their Wonder Woman-in-high-school show Amazon is no longer in active development.
What do you think? Could a live action Young Justice actually work? Or is this all a cruel joke merely meant to re-open the wound left over earlier this year when Young Justice was canceled? Let us know what you think in the comments section.
- CW Reportedly Developing A YOUNG JUSTICE Series Featuring Superboy And More (comicbookmovie.com)
- Beware the Batman Disappears from Schedule, Just Like Green Lantern and Young Justice? (themarysue.com)
- Young Justice: Legacy’ available now (itsmuchmore.com)
- This Week’s TV: Will DC succeed on TV where it’s failed at the movies? (io9.com)