“Batman: The Animated Series” is one of the seminal animated creations of the nineties and is still considered a quintessential depiction of Batman. It’s a masterpiece of animation and meticulous storytelling. The voice work by Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill as Batman and Joker are so definitive, that some fans can’t possibly imagine either character on screen without either actor portraying them. Here we are in 2017 with Bruce Timm reviving his animated version of “Batman” and what do we get? A very long gag involving Harley Quinn farting in the Batmobile as Batman sniffs it in with pleasure, all the while Nightwing retches in the side seat. This is the bar of “quality” we get with “Batman and Harley Quinn.”
Now that the gloves are off, FOX has managed to embrace the comic book universe tropes of “Gotham” and no longer have molded “Gotham” as an abysmal crime thriller. It’s now working as a somewhat new and radical take on the origin of Batman and Bruce Wayne’s molding in to the dark knight. The writers have taken even more liberties with the universe, centering so much more on Commissioner Gordon now and slowly sliding Bruce Wayne in to focus. The third seasons is a much lauded improvement over the former seasons for fans, as “Gotham” goes all out weird and eccentric, re-thinking the Batman universe and his origin in a new and often bold method.
It’s a thing of beauty to see DC Comics and Warner finally embrace what’s so awe-inspiring about their characters. I’ve been a very vocal critic about DC’s output of live action films, and “Wonder Woman” is thankfully a remarkable jumping point for the new direction of the cinematic universe for DC and Warner. Patty Jenkins’ film presents Wonder Woman at a turning point at the very end of her own movie and is one of the most socially relevant superhero films made in the last fifteen years. “Wonder Woman” arrives in an age where worldwide, efforts are being made by various political and corrupt powers to silence women. Out of the darkness comes Diana Prince, a woman who will not be silenced or put in to the background.
Diana grew up to become an Amazon warrior. Little did she know, she was much more than that and when the time comes, she heads to war with a man who crashed near the island she lives on with only women. There she discovers her full potential as much more than a warrior, but also a hero.
For parents looking to introduce their tween children to lighter superhero fare before giving them heavier doses of superhero drama, “DC Superhero Girls” is a nice animated introduction. Based on the hit toy line, “DC Superhero Girls” is set in the superhero high school, where DC Universe’s most powerful superheroes attend to learn how to fight crime. The movie is mostly centered on the female superheroes from the DC Universe including young Wonder Woman, young Batgirl, Supergirl, Bumblebee, Katana, Poison Ivy, and class clown Harley Quinn.
My only hope is that when DC’s live action debut of “Wonder Woman” finally arrives, that they’ve taken notes from Bruce Timm and Lauren Montgomery’s animated depictions, because they remain some of the best iterations to date. DC and Warner have yet to churn out a cinematic masterpiece in the last five years, but they’ve done remarkably well in the animated department in the past. “Wonder Woman” is one of their crowning achievements as an exciting, action packed, and engaging look at the Amazonian warrior’s battle against her uncle, the god of war Ares.
“Teen Titans: The Judas Contract” is a sequel to “Justice League vs. Teen Titans” which was a sequel to “Batman: Bad Blood” so don’t worry, it all ties to Batman. Like pretty much everything DC Comics these days, it’s all about Batman, and “The Judas Contract” compensates for the lack of Batman by including both Robins. Not only do we get a look at Dick Grayson as Robin when he led the Titans, but we also go to modern times where Grayson is now Nightwing. Damian Wayne is Robin now, and is a member of the Teen Titans. So that Batman flavor DC banks on is still there, even if Batman never shows up. “The Judas Contract” is an adaptation of one of the most iconic comic book storylines of all time, as the Teen Titans confront a traitor in their midst. Sam Liu’s animated adaptation is weak and limp, and often times bereft of entertainment value. And I say that as someone who genuinely loves the character Nightwing.
Sam Liu’s “The Judas Contract” is both a sequel to “Justice League vs. Teen Titans,” and an adaptation of perhaps one of the most iconic storylines in comic book history. And, I’ll just say it: The animated series of “Teen Titans” accomplished this storyline so much better. With “The Judas Contract” we’re given literally eighty four minutes to know, understand and empathize with the Teen Titans and perhaps feel a twinge of shock when they’re betrayed by a close ally. With the animated series, we were given so much more build up and time to understand the betrayal of Terra, as well as dodge all the creepy pedophilia overtones between villain Deathstroke and his assistant. The animated series allowed for a lot of build up and when Terra does make her descent in to the dark side it stings so much that even levelheaded Raven begins to shed a tear.