TV News

Here We Go Again: First Batman Unlimited, Now JLA – The Uncertain Future of DC Animation

A couple of days ago, a Reddit user named UnknownJ25 posted the following picture thought to be of a wall at Warner Bros. Animation:D9GX7CsPointing to the poster on the far right, the user speculated, “Possible new JLA show in production at WB Animation” with “JLA” standing for “Justice League of America.”  The poster only features silhouettes of characters, thus making it difficult to identity which DC superheroes might be featured in such a show, though at a quick glance I can pick out Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Hawkgirl and Firestorm.  Is this really proof that a new animated series is in production at WB Animation?

We’ve been here before.  Over a year ago, a Reddit user noticed the following poster at a Licensing Expo in Las Vegas, and decided it clearly meant a new Batman TV series was on the way, thus softening the blow for those mourning the recently canceled Beware the Batman:

new-batman-animated-series-coming-batman-unlimitedHowever, we now know that Batman Unlimited is actually an action figure line produced by Mattel, which DC has promoted through a series of direct-to-video animated films and online shorts.  To date, there have been two movies (Animal Instincts, Monster Mayhem), and a web-series with 20 total episodes on the DC Kids YouTube Channel.

Based on that example, a random pictured posted on Reddit can been seen as an indication that something is in the works, but it’s a mistake to assume anything beyond that.  Yes, Batman v Superman is due next year and Justice League: Part 1 the year after that, and if Guardians of the Galaxy is getting its own animated series then surely Justice League will as well, right?

As I previously observed, the death of the broadcast network Saturday morning cartoon has eliminated prime real estate for cartoons and pushed most of them to cable (e.g., Disney and DisneyXD, NickToons and Cartoon Network).  In this brave new world, DisneyXD is the only one which seems interested in traditional superhero cartoons, thanks entirely its corporate synergy with Marvel.  That used to be a Cartoon Network specialty (WB and CN belong to the same TimeWarner corporate conglomerate), but its current slate of programming is exclusively comprised of kiddie-friendly fare.  That’s why the more teen/adult-leaning shows like Young Justice and Beware the Batman were canceled while the goofy and inoffensive Teen Titans Go! survives to this day.

DC Animation has moved on, focusing on building up its line of direct-to-video movies and online content which ultimately serves as short ads for those direct-to-video movies.  They hope that if you watch the Batman Unlimited web series on YouTube or the 3-part Justice League: Gods and Monsters animated series on Machinima you’ll be motivated to go buy the related movies (or talk your parents into it).  WB is now a big investor in Machinima, thus making the site a logical, corporate synergy-approved landing spot for future DC Animation projects.  Plus, DC has all of those direct-to-video Justice League LEGO movies which cross-promote the video games and usually come with collectible LEGO figurines of DC characters.  There’s also the odd case of the Target-exclusive, direct-to-video Justice League: Trapped in Time.

Given all of that recent history, we should expect some animated product called JLA to pop up in the next year or so, but where it lands and what form it takes is anyone’s guess, though DC Animation’s preferred destinations lately have been direct-to-video and through streaming services online.


  1. This is an unpopular opinion but: I HATE Direct-to-video releases in animation and that certainly includes the DC-movies. As a big animation fan (I don’t know if you are aware but beside my main blog, I have another blog which is mainly about animation…and music used in animation), I can’t stand those productions in which corners were cut left and right and there is next to no art left in them. And considering that this is Warner Bros, I am NOT ready to let them off the hook. They can do better. (And don’t get me started in my dissatisfaction over what Marvel nowadays considers animation).
    If I want to see a good animated Superhero movie, I watch The Incredibles or Big Hero 6.

    Not the TV series…I am ready to give studios a little bit more leeway there. And DC has made some shows over the years, which were visually interesting. Batman: TAS, Batman Beyond, Batman: The Brave and the Bolt (I sense a pattern there).

  2. A desert-set men-on-a-mission movie complete with jabbering jihadis, macho hysteria and the occasional extraterrestrial waving its tentacles in the background as if to say: ‘Isn’t this supposed to be about me?’

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