I keep hearing all of this hype about the DC cinematic universe. The new "Batman vs. Superman" movie is just 2 months away as I write this, and soon we'll see "Suicide Squad" as well. But as the hype increases in volume, I keep wondering if the live-action DC universe will be as good as the one they already have built over the past 8 years--the DC Universe Animated Original Movies.
If you're a nerd like me, then you know what I'm talking about--the DC Animated Oringinals films that have been put together by Warner Brothers, DC Comics, and largely overseen by producer Bruce Timm. If you're not a nerd, then you likley had no idea that there have already been about 2 dozen of these animated films since 2008. But why would you know about them? You can't see them in movie theaters, they're barely advertised, and you can only usually get them on DVD or Blu Ray. If you're lucky enough to have seen any of these, then you know what a shame it is that DC hasn't made much of a fuss about them, while constantlhy craming new footage and images from their live-action offerings down our throats.
To give you an idea of what these films offer, they're mostly one to one and a half hours in length, and they typically are re-tellings of stories from the pages of DC comics. Occasionally, they are original stories, such as "Gods and Monsters", which is something akin to a DC "Elseworlds" story in movie form. Most of these movies carry a PG-13 rating, offering rather mature content, foul language, and lots of violent action. For example, "Justice League: War" features a rather gruesome origin scene for Cyborg.
The best part is that the DC animated universe has a lot of the feel of the comics. The stories are largely based on the comics, and they don't make a lot of changes that are often made to get a story onto the screen in a live-action format. The stories are animated, and there doesn't seem to be the need to make the DC universe somehow more realistic just because there are real people on the screen. The "Dark Knight Returns" is close to what you get in the comic. It's set in the right time and place, and you don't have to wonder why Ben Affleck is wearing an armored suit in a story set years before the "Dark Knight Returns" timeline.
Then, there's the actors. There is little to argue with over your friends about the choices made for voice actors. Some of the films feature Kevin Conroy voicing Batman (of Batman: The Animated Series and the Arkham video game series fame). In recent films, Jason O'Mara does a great job of portraying the voice behind the cowl. You have other seasoned voice actors, such as Dee Bradley Baker (Klaus from American Dad) and John DiMaggio (Bender from Futurama). There are even some well-known TV and film actors such as Peter Weller (Robocop), Giancarlo Esposito (Breaking Bad), Anne Heche (Donnie Brasco, Wag the Dog), Benajmin Bratt (Traffic, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs), Michael C. Hall (Dexter), and even Neil Patrick Harris (How I Met Your Mother, American Horror Story, Gone Girl, the list goes on...).
But most importantly, perhaps, there is no arguing about whether this:
Looks like this:
Or, whether this:
Is even remotely like this:
Though, maybe that is why the DC live-action universe gets a of the attention. It tacks pretty closely to the comics, and doesn't make the big changes that are likely to cause controversey among hard-core fans. So, let's hope that we can all just sit back and enjoy more animated treasures from DC for years to come.
Check out some of the previous offereings over the last few years, including "Batman: Year One", "Son of Batman", "Justice League: War", "Superman: Doomsday", "Green Lantern: Emerald Knights", and "Wonder Woman".
Be sure to get a look at "Batman: Bad Blood", the newest offering, released on Blu Ray on Feb. 2nd 2016,
and January 20th on iTunes and Google Play.