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Western Animation / DC Universe Animated Original Movies

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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 Moviesnote  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. While several of the films were adapted from notable storylines from the Post-Crisis comics continuity with several liberties taken, others featuring an original premise, such as origin stories for Green Lantern and Wonder Woman, and relatively recent films are based on iconic standalone graphic novels and miniseries like DC: The New Frontier and Batman: The Dark Knight Returns - which themselves often existed in independent continuities. However, starting with Justice League: War, a significant number of films have shared continuity, adapting material from DC's New 52 universe.note  This continuity, which we'll call the DC Animated Movie Universe, also combines the New 52 with DC Rebirth and Post-Crisis elements in order to become its own thing.


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 and sensuality is ramped up as well. Several films have come close to being rated R before edits, but only four films have gotten the R rating so far.

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. In particular, the New 52-based films and the DC Showcase shorts have a consistent blend of Timm Style and Animesque mainly from artist Phil Bourassa, who also did the DC TV series Young Justice. This may not be immediately apparent, as the box art for the movies tends to have a completely different art style from the movies themselves, especially in recent years.


DC Universe Animated Original Movies:

Web series:

DC Showcase shorts:

A second series of shorts has also been announced, due for release in 2019-2020. These shorts include stories featuring Adam Strange and The Phantom Stranger, in addition to the aforementioned Sgt. Rock and Death ones, plus an adaptation of A Death in the Family.


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