DC have been doing sterling work on their animated movies, of late. I loved Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths and Batman: Under the Red Hood was also stunning. No great surprise then that they’re increasing their output in 2011 to three features – joy is me.
On pre-order already are Superman/Batman: Apocalypse and Superman/Shazam!: The Return of Black Adam.
The former is actually the story in the graphic novel Superman/Batman: Supergirl but features a healthy dose of Darkseid so I get the name switch. The latter is really an anthology of shorts. These are made up of the DC Animated Showcase mini-movies (about 10 minutes or so each) that were, frankly, brilliant extras on the preceding full-length movies and include characters such as the Spectre, Jonah Hex and Green Arrow. This anthology piece not only has a brand new short, featuring the eponymous heroes Superman and Shazam!, it also includes extended versions of the other aforementioned shorts – cool!
I for one loved the DC Showcase material. It’s the animated equivalent of a short story and allowed the writers to give some neglected, perhaps less popular/more obscure, characters some love and do so in a dark and interesting way. The showcase pieces are bleaker, more adult than the full-length movies (though, in saying that, Under the Red Hood was pretty hard core). The stories are nicely simple and taught – I’ve only seen The Spectre and Jonah Hex so far, but they seem to follow a cautionary tale/moral theme. Of course, there’s action and more than a little horror in both of these. I’m hoping for the same from Green Arrow.
I really like this idea of giving slightly sidelined characters a bit of attention. Appending them to a feature that has the big boys duking it out on the grand stage is a masterstroke by DC, I think. Needless to say, I’m really looking forward to seeing what the extended versions are like.
The 2011 slate for animated DC looks even better. Announced so far are: All Star Superman (which I read, and enjoyed, recently but not sure how they’ll make it work as an animated movie), Green Lantern: Emerald Knights (presumably to riff with the new movie coming out, it’s actually a bunch of shorts too) and Batman: Year One (OMG – now that got me excited – I freakin’ love this story).
So, lots to be happy for in 2011, methinks. Have to say as well that DC kick the ass of Marvel in the animation stakes. Better stories, better animation, more sensible distribution and release patterns. No wonder they’re increasing their output. Long may it continue!