DC Comics have been releasing direct to DVD animated films for years now. One of my favorites is the very Silver Age "Justice League: The New Frontier".
On May 12, DC Comics released the DVD/Blue-ray/Digital-HD “Batman Unlimited: Animal Instincts”. This teams up Batman with Nightwing, Flash, Green Arrow, and Red Robin. They fight The Penguin and his Animilitia, which includes Man-Bat, Killer Croc, Cheetah and Silver-Back and an army of mechanically enhanced animals. BUAI will include a downloadable app and will be followed by a second movie and 22 shorts. This will be more all-ages accessible than most of the previous DC animated efforts and according to Forbe’s Magazine the story is gripping.
But the thing that makes this whole thing worth noting is, they are weird versions of well-known heroes, that is, they don’t look like we are used to them appearing. They are odd and angular appearing, but no huge surprise, they are based on a Batman Unlimited toy line!
Dc will later also have similar releases of Super-Friends media–again, these are odd-looking versions of familiar super heroes. All of them rather bloated looking. These aren’t the Super-Friends from the 1970’s but rather a modern version of the characters ALSO based on a toy line! And this one is for even younger children!
Not this good one but this crappy one!
But not all their weird superheroes are for children. Sometimes the weird superheroes are children! Well, Robin.
Already released April 14th “Batman Vs. Robin” featured a weird version of Robin; Batman’s son, Damain, his mother was Talia al Ghul, daughter of longtime Batman for Ra’s al Ghul. This one comes closer to the heroes looking closer to their “normal” appearance but, still acting weird.
Bruce Timm returns to DC Animation with “Justice League: Gods & Monsters” which takes place in a previously unseen parallel universe. This may be the strangest versions of well-known heroes ever done for animation. Superman is the son of General Zod and was raised by Mexican migrant workers. ¡Dios Mio! Batman is Kirk Langstrom who turns vampiric after trying to cure his cancer with a bat serum. Holy Man-Bat! Wonder Woman is from New Genesis and Lex Luthor is like Stephen Hawking. This is a much darker universe and these are, by all accounts, different characters, with unique motivations, origins, etc, again, weird animated superheroes. Even these odd-ball heroes get cross promoted with their own digital comics and line of action figures.
There are other examples including last years "Flashpoint Paradox", which featured a reality Flash created by saving his mother, which included a gun toting Thomas Wayne as Batman and Aquaman and the forces of Atlantis versus Wonder Woman and her Amazons battling for control of the Earth. Weird, right? This seems to be an unstoppable direction for DC Comics; I just hope it’s the right direction!