Western Animation / DC Universe Animated Original Movies

In the beginning, there were DC Comics heroes, and it was good. Then there were the Super Friends and similar shows, and the public was exposed to some of their favorite heroes in animation for the first time. In The '90s we were introduced to them all over again with the DC Animated Universe. Now we have the next era of animated excitement for Batman, Superman, and company, going Direct-to-Video — though the consistently high production values make them akin to Original Video Animation in the anime field instead of what "direct-to-video" usually implies in the West.

Many of the DC Universe Animated Original Movies have the advantage of having independent continuities, allowing the creative team of each to experiment with new voice actors, art styles, and so forth. This approach has been criticized, particularly if a certain portrayal of a character is popular with viewers, only for it never to be seen again. Considering most of the films are based upon standalone graphic novels and miniseries like DC: The New Frontier and Batman: The Dark Knight Returns - which themselves often existed in independent continuities - this is perhaps unavoidable. However, starting with Justice League: War, most of the films do take place after each other, adapting material from DC's New 52 universe.note 

Another notable aspect of the films is many of them are Darker and Edgier than the television cartoons. PG-13 ratings for violence are common (several have come close to being rated R before edits, and two have actually been released with an R rating with a third on the way) and sensuality is ramped up as well.

DC has also produced DC Showcase, a companion series of shorts featuring often lesser-known characters such as The Spectre, Green Arrow, and Jonah Hex, as well as some better-known characters like Catwoman. The shorts are usually included as bonus items on the DVD and Blu-ray releases.

Several of these animated works more or less reflect the individual artists of their comic book sources, like Darwyn Cooke for The New Frontier and Frank Miller for The Dark Knight Returns, and an Anthology Film, Batman: Gotham Knight, was even made by multiple anime studios for DC. Many other works show strong influence from Bruce Timm, the main artist behind the DCAU who maintains a supervisor/producer role and returns to art duties for a few of them. The New 52-based ones in particular have a consistent blend of Timm Style and Animesque mainly from artist Phil Bourassa, who also did the DC TV series Young Justice.
The DC Universe Animated Original Movies are:

The DC Showcase Shorts are:


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