Teen Titans, Powerpuff Girls and now Justice League: nothing is safe with money hungry Cartoon Network executives around. The guys in charge of the channel that shaped my childhood have decided that kids these days are morons and no longer feel the need to make entertaining, engaging, and logic-driven content. Why spend money trying to find the next Adventure Time when you can just take an old IP from the 2000s and remove all the interesting parts so only flashing colors and terrible animation are left.
Justice League Action is the newest television series featuring DC’s pantheon of super people. If you liked Bruce Timm’s classic TV series, Justice League and Justice League Unlimited, stay far away from JLA . It’s a shameless ploy to try and squeeze as much money out of the DC license as possible. I might just be looking at the original Justice League through rose-tinted glasses, but that show had heart. JLA replaces that heart with catch phrases and poorly animated fight scenes.
Justice League Action Looks, Feels And Just Is Terrible
I watched the season premiere, the whole hour of it, and I can’t believe how wrong they got the Justice League.
There are a few core elements with every story about the Justice League: superheroes solving problems in either the Hall of Justice or the Watchtower. Don’t know much about actual DC canon, like who is Black Adam, The Wizard or why Captain Marvel has his powers? You are going to have a rough time understanding this show. It dumps DC figureheads, one after the other, without any explanation as to who they are.
The actual character designs look like they were made by a first-year visual arts student who had one Adderall fueled night to design a children’s television show. Superman and Batman are passable (it’s hard to fuck up spandex), but Wonder Woman seems to be going through a rebellious phase. Part of her head is shaved, making her look like the bass guitarist in a glam rock 80s band. Martian Manhunter looks like an angry string bean with a grasshopper for a head.
“But Mom, it’s just a phase.”- Wonder Woman
The original Justice League had heroes who had to make difficult choices and you as the viewer understood. Just watch the episode “ For The Man Who Has Everything ” and you can see that these figureheads have flaws. JLA decides to tarnish that name by giving us a “and then this happened, and then this happened, etc.” story that doesn’t feel satisfying. I caught myself getting distracted by my wall because it was more interesting.
Let me give you an example (minor spoilers ahead): A monster who can cancel super powers by saying your name, catches Superman, Wonder Woman and Batman. At that exact moment Constantine, who sounds like a drunk Midwesterner doing his best Paul Mccartney, pops open a portal and saves the heroes. In my world, Constantine is an angry, drunk detective not a portal hopper, but I won’t nitpick. The heroes figure out that if they pretend to be the other heroes, they can’t lose their powers, so they head back into the fight and hijinks ensue.
In the final fight with Black Adam, the nameless monsters and whatever Justice Leaguers were around, Cartoon Network showed me what they are trying to do with this show. All the heroes do their best McDonalds Happy Meal toy pose and Batman screams “Justice League action!” Everyone knows Batman loves shouting catchphrases and announcing where he is.
Justice League Action is not supposed to be the Justice League cartoon of your childhood. Like Teen Titans GO and the new Powerpuff Girls , it’s aimed at very small children. Cartoon Network has realized that moms love to dump their brats in front of glowing screens and they aren’t going to miss out on that market. CN still has a few shows that adults can enjoy, like Regular Show and Adventure Time, but those are on their last seasons and will soon be replaced by this garbage.
I’ve only seen the pilot episode of Justice League Action , so maybe it won’t be as bad as it seems. Maybe I’m just Rorschach on the side of the street with my “the end is nigh ” sign while I tell everyone about the coming apocalypse. It has some great voice talent, with Kevin Conroy returning as Batman and Mark Hamill as Swamp Thing. The pilot even had The Wizard voiced by comedy legend, Carl Reiner.
I want to believe, I’ve just run out of hope for Justice League Action.