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Necessary Evil: Super-Villains of DC Comics [Blu-ray]
THE JOKER, LEX LUTHOR, CATWOMAN, DOOMSDAY, BANE. What makes them so thrillingly watchable? So terribly wonderful? So extremely vital to our super heroes and their worlds? This new feature-length documentary explores these questions across seven decades of DC Comics' hallowed Rogues' Gallery of infamous evildoers.
The show kicked off with the 90-minute movie "Secret Origins" at 7pm on November 17th. An encore showing of the movie aired Sunday, the 18th at 8:30pm. The show then moved to its regular timeslot at 9:30pm on Monday evenings, starting on the 19th. Repeat showings of the weekly episodes were scheduled for Fridays at 7:30pm and Sundays at 8:30pm.
Secret Origins counted as the first three episodes of the series. Followed in November 2001 with episodes #4 and #5, which made up parts 1 and 2 of the "In Blackest Night" storyline. That two part episode focused on Green Lantern - John Stewart.
Cartoon Network gave Justice League an initial order of 26 original episodes, which incorporated an all-star roster of popular DC Comics superheroes, including Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, The Flash, Hawkgirl and Martian Manhunter. Following the premise and storyline of the DC Comics comic books, members of the Justice League are called upon to battle against allied villains, supernatural creatures and other powerful forces of evil determined to usurp authority over the world and to destroy the Justice League. Justice League marks the first time in more than 15 years that these characters have come together in a television series since first uniting in Super Friends, which ran from 1973-85 on ABC and later on Cartoon Network.
"We know from our experience of airing Super Friends for years on Cartoon Network here in the U.S. and around the world, that Justice League will have a vast, built-in audience hungry for an exciting new look at these classic characters," said Cohen. "We've built a powerful action-adventure block on Cartoon Network called Toonami that will serve as a showcase for the new series. With Justice League, we're strategically positioning Cartoon Network to attract an even broader audience of tweens, teens and adults who are drawn to the powerful DC Comics brand and are seeking smart, exciting, action-packed animation at its very best."
"I can think of no one more appropriate or qualified to bring the JLA superheroes to life than Bruce Timm," said Jean MacCurdy, president of Warner Bros. Animation. "As he so brilliantly demonstrated with Batman and Superman, he is passionate about creating an entertaining and dynamic series that will thrill the legions of JLA fans everywhere, as well as introduce a whole new generation of fans to these classic characters as they come together in a brand new series."
"After working on the Superman and Batman series for the last several years, Justice League is a great opportunity to develop those characters a step further and bring more of the iconic DC Comics superheroes to life," said Timm. "I am looking forward to exploring whole new realms of the superhero world."
"We're excited to be working with the great creative team responsible for Batman and Superman," said Mike Lazzon, senior vice president of programming and production for Cartoon Network. Justice League will be a powerful addition to our Toonami action-adventure franchise."
Paul Levitz, executive vice president & publisher, DC Comics, commented, "Justice League will literally have worlds colliding and the most dynamic action animation ever done, thanks to Bruce Timm and our friends at Warner Bros. Animation and Cartoon Network."
The show consists of big story arcs, lasting 2-3 episodes. There is huge, intense, action, as well as indepth characterization. The first series features two 90-minute episodes and 10 hour-long episodes.
As the season begins, Superman addresses an awesome assemblage of heroes. He and the rest of the Justice League, which in the past included the Flash, Green Lantern, Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Martian Manhunter and Hawkgirl, have come to realize that the universe might be best served by enlarging the group, being more proactive and coordinating more effectively. The group assembles an awesome collection of superheroes and brings them together aboard the Watchtower, the orbiting space station. It's from this perch that Martian Manhunter monitors goings-on across the galaxies and assigns teams of superheroes to tackle problems.
But it isn't always smooth sailing for the members of the expanded Justice League. Superheroes usually work alone and have powerful, and idiosyncratic, personalities, so conflicts inevitably arise. Like any co-workers, these people don't always agree on the best way to solve a problem. But in the case of the new Justice League, these superheroes are dealing with civil wars, rogue criminals and rampaging monsters, so they must learn to work together.
The new roster of Justice League Unlimited includes some of the most famous superheroes around, like Green Arrow, Supergirl and Captain Atom. Other members may be a bit more obscure. Hawk & Dove are siblings with a very different take on conflict resolution techniques. B'wana Beast is a jungle man-turned-superhero, a combination of the Bronx and the Bronx Zoo. The Atom is the world's smallest superhero. Booster Gold, a glory-seeking hero from the future, joins the Justice League, as does Zatanna, a beautiful magician and sorceress. While there is a universe filled with new threats, a few classic villains return, including Lex Luthor, Soloman Grundy and Mongul.
Phillip LaMarr (Static Shock) plays Green Lantern. While Carl Lumbly (Batman: Sub-Zero) is the voice for the Martian Manhunter.
Mark Hamill and Clancy Brown returned to voice their roles of the Joker and Lex Luthor for Cartoon Network's Justice League animated series.
Phil Morris provides the voice of villian Vandal Savage, who is apart of the Injustice Gang. Also, Rene Auberjoinois does the voices of "toon antagonists". Auberjoinois was the voice of DeSaad on the "Super Friends: Galactic Guardians" cartoon series.
The Justice League cast of voice actors consists of:
Members of the Injustice Gang include:
The Cheetah: Not much was said about this charcter, but her design reflects the current comic book feral, were-cat appearance.
Ultra Humanite: Timm stated that producer James Tucker specifically requested to have the Ultra Humanite in this episode. Tucker, a self-confessed "DC geek" who traded X-Men #99 for an issue of Superman Family, commented, "I really love DC and any chance I get to use a really weird looking villain, I'm gonna fight for it."
Ultra Humanite has a long history that goes back to the Golden Age of Superman comics. "He's a mad genius who just sticks his brain anywhere he wants to," Tucker explained. "He was a woman, he stuck his head in an ape. You gotta love it. And I really love drawing big goofy apes with giant brains." Tucker cited that Timm actually enlarged the head in the Ultra Humanite design. "Chicks dig big brain." Timm added.
The Ultra Humanite is voiced by Ian Buchanan (Dr. Cuvier in the Batman Beyond episode "Splicers"). Personality-wise, Tucker describes the Ultra Humanite as "Kelsey Grammer in a gorilla suit." Timm added that the Humanite is essentially a "suave, quiet villain with this big gorilla body."
"He's very urbane," Tucker agreed.
Copperhead: Said Timm: "He's one of those weird secondary DC villains who James Tucker just loves."
Tucker chimes in, "I lo-o-o-o-o-ve Copperhead."
Timm quips back, "And that's pretty much it. (audience laughs) Next?"
The Shade: Like in the comics, the Shade controls darkness, which is emitted from his walking cane. Timm stated that The Shade will be portrayed as a "creepy character." Tucker mentioned how easily the character could be imagined as a Goth, which inspired the Shade's animated design.
Star Sapphire: "One of the interesting things about (the Injustice Gang) episode is that, although we have eight super-villains, it's really Luthor's story more than anything else," Timm said. "We really don't have time to go into the origin stories as much as we would normally do. So we don't really explain anything about Star Sapphire. (In the episode) she's just this gal who has this special power."
Timm did mention that there is a developed backstory to this character, which reflects her history in the Green Lantern comics. "She's actually Carol Ferris, who was Hal Jordan's boss, and she has this psychotic breakdown and (develops) a secondary personality." Producer Rich Fogel added that Ferris is the epitome of "the woman scorned."
Olivia D'Abo will portray Sapphire. "We just love her English accent and she's never had a chance to use it," Timm said, referring to the time when she was the voice of Ten in Batman Beyond. "So (Sapphire's) secondary personality will have an English accent. It just sounds nice."
Solomon Grundy: Timm mentioned that the producers wanted to use this character on the Superman show, but they just never got around to it. "I love Grundy," Timm said with glee. Like Sapphire and the other villains, "we don't really explain what he is, he's just this big hulking... critter. We all know his backstory but we don't really get into it."
Grundy is actually played by Mark Hammil. Timm explained that Hamill, who is playing the Joker in the same episode, was asked to try a voice for Grundy, "and he sounded great."
The Joker: "He's still alive, despite what we did to him in the Return of the Joker," Timm exclaimed. "So this (episode) obviously pre-dates that." Timm affirmed that we can expect the Joker to act the same as in the previous Batman series. "He's the Joker. Say no more."
Lex Luthor: Timm stated that Luthor will be portrayed differently than he was in the Superman series. "We thought we've done enough stories with Luthor being the corporate tycoon, and that was fine in the 90's," Timm said. "We (used the concept) again in Batman Beyond with Derek Powers, so we needed to have a new take on Luthor."
This "new take" reflected Tucker's notion of being true to the wild DC Comics roots. "You either love it or you don't," Timm said. "We kinda love it." So the show will bring Luthor back to the basic "mad scientist/super-villain Luthor" he was in the Silver Age of DC Comics. "In fact, he wears the 'Super Powers'-era power suit, slightly modified," Timm said, adding that there is a reason in the story as to why he has to wear the suit.
Another slide revealed that Luthor will also appear in a modified version of his classic purple-and-green outfit (which actually induced a lot of applause from the audience). And the Luthor fashion ensemble doesn't stop there. "There's even a part in the story where he's in prison and will be wearing the old Curt Swan prison garb," Timm exclaimed.
Despite the "new" character concept, Luthor will still be voiced by Clancy Brown.
Theme Music by: Lolita Ritmanis
Studio: Warner Bros. Animation
Network: Cartoon Network
Episodes ordered: 26