Short for DC Animated Universe
, a group of animated series based on DC Comics
characters and, unlike other DC adaptations
, all sharing the same continuity.Batman: The Animated Series
was doing well but eventually ended in 1995. As well, Superman: The Animated Series
started up in 1996 with a similar but streamlined art design and when The New Batman Adventures
arrived in 1997 (explicitly a continuation of the prior series) a decision was made to simplify many character designs. This was a controversial move; some characters were redrawn to more closely match their comic counterparts and to correspond to their original intentions of the creators (the Penguin, in particular, returned to his comic book look of a tuxedo-clad-gangster rather than the deformed model inspired by Batman Returns
), at the same time other characters lost distinctive and iconic parts of their appearance, like The Joker
's red lips and eyes, which the creators later admitted was an artistic mistake. Other character redesigns were more successful however, such as The Scarecrow's nightmare-inducing new look. Supporting characters were also redrawn, including Commissioner Gordon, and his new gaunt look made many fans believe that he was suffering from some sort of debilitating disease.
With a Batman and Superman show airing simultaneously, the inevitable crossover occurred with World's Finest
, which teamed Batman and Superman against the Joker and Lex Luthor
, and the switch in art style made the cross much easier. A unified artstyle
also greatly helped many of the DC Animated Universe shows later, which were either direct spinoffs of existing shows or discreetly and directly tied together.
The DCAU is sometimes referred to as the "Timmverse" (after character designer Bruce Timm
) or the "Diniverse" (after writer Paul Dini
). Some purists argue that "Timmverse" is more appropriate, as Bruce Timm was a more consistent creative force in the various shows than Paul Dini, who left before the end of it. Rather more to the point, Dini is a writer, not a character designer. Timm, who is
a character designer, is the one responsible for the "standard DCAU art style". On the other hand, the writing of the DCAU is as notable as the art, plus the name is catchier (having three syllables
and all). On the other
hand, Paul Dini was just the foremost of several writers and worked for Alan Burnett, who thus technically had more to do with the managing of the DCAU than Dini did. The debate continues.It is generally accepted that the DCAU includes:Comic Books set in the DCAU include:Video Games based on the DCAU:
- Batman: The Animated Series
- The Adventures of Batman and Robin
- Superman 64
- Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker
- Batman: Chaos in Gotham
- Batman: Gotham City Racer
- Batman: Vengeance
- Superman: Shadows of Apokolips
- Justice League: Injustice for All
- Superman: Countdown to Apokolips
- Batman: Rise of Sin Tzu
- Justice League: Chronicles
The DCAU has ended production with the final episode of Justice League Unlimited
, and at this point no plans are made to do more series in it. However, its influence continues to this day both in Comics and Western Animation
, and due to the distinct art style of the 'verse (aka Timm Style
) being applied to later animated adaptations of The DCU
, other properties are frequently and incorrectly cited as part of the DCAU.
Tropes present in the DCAU shows:
- Adaptation Distillation: All DCAU shows took the best parts of all DC Comics elements and modernized them.
- Art Evolution: The universe as a whole steadily improved in animation with each new show.
- Art Shift: Was done with The New Batman Adventures in order to tie it in with Superman: The Animated Series, as well as make it easier to keep characters On Model.
- Book Ends:
- The first superhero ever seen in the DCAU was Batman. The last hero in the final Curtain Call at the end of Justice League Unlimited is Batman.
- The final scene in the Justice League Unlimited episode "Epiologue" mirrored the first shot of the very first Batman: The Animated Series episode, with the episode being written before the series was renewed for its third & final season. Whilst it didn't end up book ending the DCAU (at least, not by our chronology), it did book end the first shot of BTAS with the final shot of the future Batman.
- Channel Hop: Batman the Animated Series aired on Fox Kids, then The New Batman Adventures, Superman the Animated Series, Batman Beyond, the Zeta Project, and Static Shock aired on Kids Wb and The Justice League and Justice League Unlimited aired on Cartoon Network
- Continuity Snarl: The tie-in comics are canon...at least until an actual episode of one of the series contradicts them. This has resulted in discrepancies in characterization and origin for several characters, including Superman, Catman, and Huntress.
- Fantasy Gun Control: Averted in most cases, making the DCAU cartoons unique among TV shows of the '90s era.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: Well...
- Gosh Dang It to Heck!: Compiled here (as well as Curses Cut Short).
- Leitmotif: A constant element of the universe's musical scores - Batman: The Animated Series famously had motifs for every major character, including full themes for every member of his rogues gallery. Superman had them less often, but most villains and heroes still had their own themes. The most famous themes from both of these shows remained with the characters for the entirety of the DCAU, and this practice continued on to Justice League and Unlimited, which gave several of the most important heroes themes.
- Ruritania: Kaznia, a Balkan nation that is referred to multiple times in several DCAU shows.
- Story Arc: Superman TAS and Justice League (Unlimited) were very arc-based in structure.
- Stuff Blowing Up: The vast majority of episodes set within the DCAU end with the villain's hideout exploding, for reasons ranging from self-destruct devices to joy buzzers falling into loose wiring.
- Timm Style: Trope Namer, Maker, and Codifier.
- The Wiki Rule: DC Animated Universe Wiki