The DC Extended Animated Universe- A Consideration

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
I haven't been feeling like posting new threads recently (although I have one loosely based on Chuck Klosterman's excellent 90s book percolating), but I wanted to shine a spotlight on an oft-neglected, but kind of cool, part of the overall geek metaverse ... not to be confused with whatever The Company Formerly Known as Facebook is up to.

The DC Extended Animated Universe ("DCEAU").

For those of you not familiar with it, the DCEAU is a term I am using to include the original DCAU as well as the raft of standalone movies and newer animated series in the DC Universe.

1. The Parts of the DCEAU.

There are roughly three parts to the DCEAU.

The first part is the the "traditional" DCAU- the animated and shared universe that started in 1992 with Batman: The Animated Series, and ended with Justice League Unlimited in 2006. Confusingly, there are also some movies that are part of this shared continuity- these movies started in 1993, but the most recent one in the continuity was released in 2019 (Justice League vs. Fatal Five).

The second part is the DC Universe Animated Original Movies- these are the numerous animated movies that DC has released since 2007 (and not including the early DCAU movies, like Mask of the Phantasm). Some of these movies are part of a greater continuity (the DC Animated Movie Universe, which are 16 movies roughly following the Flashpoint Paradox) and thirty-one more, to date .... that are .... not. Many of them are based on very famous comics- but not all.

The third part consists of a grab-bag of animated movies that aren't part of the DCAOM (such as Teen Titans Go! to the Movies) and newer animated series that aren't in the DCAU continuity (from Young Justice to Harley Quinn).

In short ... there's a lot of there, there. A ton of animated series, and a ton of animated movies. All of it part of the greater DCEAU.


2. Maximum DC, Maximum HBO.

What if everything you ever wanted came in a rocket can? Home Box Office. Maximum Rocket Edition!

Ahem. HBO Max is like the weird trail mix of streaming services. It has all the things in it, individually, that you want, but every time you grab a handful ... you have to ask why they are together. Seriously- it's got the best prestige TV (HBO), it's got ALL UR DC needs, it's got Studio Ghibli, Cartoon Network (and adult swim), Crunchy Roll, Looney Toons, Turner Classic Movies, and, of course, all the WB Movies and all the movies that are on HBO. It's .... a lot. And a lot of quality stuff, especially for adult geeks that aren't as concerned about their kids' need to watch Frozen on an endless loop.

So HBO Max has all the DC. If you like the DC films, it has 'em. Even the Snyder cut. Even the Snyder cut in black and white (why not?). But more importantly, it has ... all ... and I do mean ... ALL ... of the DCEAU. From Batman: The Animated Series through Harley Quinn, from Mask of the Phantasm to Justice Society: World War II. It has it all.

And back when I had to take an extended break due to the 'rona (and afterwards), I went through and watched all of the movies. I do mean ... all of them. What did I learn about the DCEAU?


3. The DCEAU: Pretty, pretty, pretty good.

I watched Batman: TAS and Batman Beyond when they first aired, so I know that DC has good animation. I also had caught up completely with Harley Quinn, and that ... that's amazing. Really.

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But I hadn't done a deep dive into the movies. I'm not going to lie to you- not all of them are great. If you know a lot of the "well-known" DC comics arcs, you'll already be familiar with many of the plots (Death of Superman, Killing Joke, Batman Year One, Dark Knight Returns etc. are all covered). But ... they are quite good!

Overall, most of them have what I call "DC Standard Animation" style- if you're familiar with the evolution from Batman: TAS to the Justice League Series, you know what it looks like. Some, however, do exciting and different things; Soul of the Dragon goes for a funky 70s look; New Frontier opts for clean and crisp lines fitting the Kennedy-esque setting; Gotham Knight is set in Nolan's universe and has experimental animation styles; Batman Ninja is ... uh ... yeah. That was pretty wild!

The other thing is that while some of these are kid appropriate (they do have, for example, two animated movies from the Adam West Batman universe), there are several of them that are not appropriate for younger children. Some of them have nudity or frank depictions of sexuality, and others amp up the violence to Tarantino-esque levels (Justice League Dark: Apokolips War features some of your favorite DC heroes getting decapitated or disembowled ... onscreen, graphically). I don't want to oversell this- most of them are perfectly appropriate, but don't assume that they are all fine because they're "animated."

Anyway, I wanted to start a thread so that people could talk about this oft-neglected corner of the Geek Universe.
 

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MarkB

Legend
I really liked Young Justice. The earlier DC animated series had done season arcs but most episodes were largely standalone, so this more serialised storytelling was welcome. Treating them as an undercover / spec-ops team rather than a club for sidekicks worked well, and the stories and characters were well done.
 


Eric V

Hero
My household loves the DCAU. While the first season of Justice League took a while to find its footing, by the end of Unlimited, we felt these were some of the best representations of the characters in media (which makes a kind of sense, since they weren't weighed down by decades of publishing). The long-term plot leading up to the Brainiac reveal was great, and we legit didn't see it coming.

I miss McDuffie being involved with these characters. :/
 

MoonSong

Rules-lawyering drama queen but not a munchkin
It doesn't feel complete, it is still missing Static, Zeta Project, and Legion of Super Heroes. At least in my country.
 

p_johnston

Explorer
..... Snarf I'm now going to have to get at least a month of HBO max and I blame you.

More seriously I really enjoyed the DCAU. I was born in '92 so a lot of the tv series (batman, batman unlimited, justice league, etc) were a decent part of my viewing staples when I was growing up. The most amazing thing to me is how well it holds up whenever I re watch parts of it. it still looks good and the writing is top notch.

As for the movies I remember them being hit or miss. Some are good, some are bad. Most are ok.
 

MGibster

Legend
I consider Batman from Batman the Animated Series to be the absolute best incarnation of the character ever. It was a fairly smart show that was entertaining and appropriate for all ages. I was even more surprised by how good Batman Beyond was. This was a series nobody asked for or wanted but it was great.

I was a little squicked out by Bruce Timm's insistence that Batgirl and Batman hook up. It was just gratuitous and didn't make any of the stories better.
 

Some, however, do exciting and different things; Soul of the Dragon goes for a funky 70s look; New Frontier opts for clean and crisp lines fitting the Kennedy-esque setting;
A few of them DKR and Justice league new frontier try to emulate the art style used in the comic it's based on, that's why despite the popularity and demand we haven't gotten a Kingdom Come animated movie. In his own words:

"The main thing that people remember from Kingdom Come, beyond the story, is the look. It was Alex Ross, breaking big, doing "photorealistic superheroes", so if we did an animated version of Kingdom Come it would not look like that. We don't have the money, there isn't enough money on the planet to make it look like that, so there's really no reason to do it. Automatically, they would be disappointed, that'd be the number one thing on amazon and amazon reviews would be "one star – doesn't look like Alex Ross"."

I love listening to the commentary on the disc, really enlightening and funny particularly when Timm snarks about the magical security camera in Batman: The Animated Series E14 "Heart of Ice". Then there's the commentary on New Frontier where he points out a crane is just spinning around crazily in the background lol

I could go on and on, but I'll stop for now.
 

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