With the arrival of the live-action Justice League movie this week, it seemed like an appropriate time to remember what is arguably the best version of The Justice league we will ever get. I’m not sure what the problem is but somehow something always seems to get lost and/or altered in translation, and not always for the better, when trying to bring these classic characters to both the big and small screens in live action form. One only has to remember that ten-year long experience of Smallville to know this is true.
As for Justice League Unlimited (JLU), it was a comics fan dream come true, with character designs that were true in appearance and spirit to the originals. These characters looked right, moved right, and thanks to some excellent voice-over work, even sounded right. They were all damn near perfect in their depiction One of the greatest attributes of these series was their flexibility to tell all sorts of stories and the manner in which they were told. JLU never got stale from focusing on only certain characters. the series spread itself around in an almost democratic manner spreading the stories around amongst so many characters and shifting the focus of the stories around it sometimes seemed as if it might get confusing but it never did. Neither series wasted time on origins stories, the characters were presented in a manner that any fan was familiar with and thrown into situations they dealt with in a manner any fan would expect in stories that were rarely disappointing.
As most fans know Justice League and Justice League Unlimited were two top-notch animated series that appeared on Cartoon Network with strongly infused with the DNA of Warner Brothers animated shows that had come before them like Superman TAS, and Batman TAS, Batman Beyond and even Static Shock.
The level of writing was almost always consistently excellent and most of the adventures were exciting and bold in terms of engaging narratives that always seemed to whet the appetite for more. Including alien species or no, on Earth, off-world, in deep space or beneath the sea, no environment was excluded these were the types of adventures fans hungered for and the series hardly ever let us down.
Once it reached the Unlimited stage of the series the sheer volume of characters was near bliss-inducing, everyone was there, and even some minor characters of the DCU were given fresh life and became more interesting again. If you didn’t see the character you were hoping to spot one week all you had to do was wait and it was never long before they would appear. This was a no holds barred joy ride of superhero action and fun. The series even explored the Jack Kirby creations of New Genesis, Apokolips, and Darkseid a development that pleased me to no end.
It’s doubtful we will ever see its like again, but for several years, just the right blend of elements came together and magic happened in the form of some of the greatest animated series ever created. It was heaven.