Network Cartoon Network
First episode date 7 January 2011
|Also known as Young Justice: Invasion (Season 2)|
Genre Superhero fiction Spy fiction Teen drama Action
Created by Brandon Vietti Greg Weisman
Written by Greg Weisman Kevin Hopps Andrew Robinson Nicole Dubuc Jon Weisman Tom Pugsley Peter David
Directed by Jay Oliva Michael Chang
Voices of Stephanie Lemelin Jesse McCartney Danica McKellar Nolan North Khary Payton Jason Spisak
Cast Nolan North, Danica McKellar, Khary Payton
Characters Batman, Nightwing, Wally West, Superboy, Miss Martian
Young Justice is an American animated television series created by Brandon Vietti and Greg Weisman for Cartoon Network. Despite its title, it is not a direct adaptation of Peter David, Todd Dezago and Todd Nauck's Young Justice comic series, but rather an adaptation of the entire DC Universe with a focus on young superheroes.
- Top 10 young justice episodes of all time
- Setting and synopsis
- Conception and creation
- Voice casting
- Production and design
- Music and animation
- Critical reception
- Home media
- Comic series
- Video game
- Awards and nominations
The series follows the lives of teenage heroes and sidekicks who are members of a fictional covert operation group referred to simply as Young Justice. Young Justice is essentially a young counterpart to the famous adult team, the Justice League. The main setting is a fictional universe apart from the previous DCAU and other continuities (designated at one point as Earth-16) during a time period in which superheroes are a relatively recent phenomenon.
The series debuted with an hour-long special on November 26, 2010, with the airing of the first two episodes, "Independence Day" and "Fireworks". Young Justice premiered on September 9, 2011, on Teletoon, in Canada. After airing its second season, titled Young Justice: Invasion, the series was canceled alongside fellow DC Nation show Green Lantern: The Animated Series in spring 2013. On November 7, 2016, Warner Bros. Animation announced that the series would be returning for a third season.
Top 10 young justice episodes of all time
Setting and synopsis
Young Justice focuses on the lives of a group of teenage sidekicks attempting to establish themselves as proven superheroes as they deal with normal adolescent issues in their personal lives. The show corresponds to the present time of our world, a time period Vietti has called "a new age of heroes".
The pilot episode (later re-broadcast as the opening two episodes of season 1) aired a month prior to the debut of the regular series and introduced four characters: Robin, Aqualad, Kid Flash, and Speedy. It established their desire for greater recognition and respect, namely, a promotion from sidekicks to full-fledged superheroes. Met with opposition from their respective mentors in the Justice League, Batman, Aquaman, Flash, and Green Arrow, the protégés react in different ways. Speedy resigns from being Green Arrow's partner and begins calling himself Red Arrow. The others seek to persuade their mentors of their worth by secretly taking on a Justice League mission to investigate the Cadmus building. During their infiltration of Cadmus' headquarters, the three heroes find a clone of Superman named Superboy. After the discovery, the team finds out Cadmus is creating living weapons called Genomorphs. The episode deals with this revelation, the origin of Superboy, and how this relates to a mysterious group of people called the Light. In the end, Robin, Aqualad, Kid Flash, and Superboy negotiate with Batman to organize a covert operations team as a practical contrast to the Justice League, whose celebrity status makes it difficult to maintain secrecy or initiate stealth operations. After consulting with his colleagues, Batman establishes Young Justice in a secret cave located inside a former Justice League headquarters, Mount Justice, a hollowed-out mountain. Here the teens are trained by Black Canary, given missions by Batman and are watched over by Red Tornado until episode twelve when this job is passed over to rotating Justice League members. Miss Martian makes an appearance at the end of the episode and joins as the fifth member.
The "Invasion" of the second season title refers to the potential invasion of Earth by the Light's partners, the Reach, who are trying to control Jaime Reyes (Blue Beetle).
Although Young Justice follows a continuity considerably different from that of the mainstream DC Universe, Weisman has stated that the series covers its early stages. Earth-16 was chosen by DC Entertainment for the show because it was largely untapped, freeing the series and its franchise from established continuity restraints set by either the main DC Universe or other worlds in the Multiverse. However, it was later discovered that Earth-16 had been previously used. That pre-existing continuity was ignored by Young Justice, as it was too late to move the show to another Earth. Later, DC's The Multiversity comic series explained Young Justice as a fictional series within the original Earth-16.
There are differences in the line-up of this Young Justice team as compared to the team in the comic series of the same name. Dick Grayson and Wally West were chosen over Tim Drake and Bart Allen/Impulse. Miss Martian was added because the date of her arrival to Earth could still fit in the early DC Universe concept. Aqualad, as opposed to Robin, is established in the beginning as the leader of the team. Furthermore, the Aqualad presented in the show is an entirely new character created by Weisman and Vietti, with Bourassa responsible for the original character design. Arrowette was replaced by Artemis because of the producers' desire to focus on the latter's storylines. Some of the Young Justice characters' ages are tweaked from those of their original counterparts; however, the spirit and intent of the characters were kept.
Characters who are a part of the line-up in the comic also make an appearance in the show. This includes Garth, the first incarnation of Aqualad who later becomes the third Tempest in DC Comics; Arrowette, the archer of the team in the Young Justice comic book series; and Wonder Girl, whose legal issues originally prohibited the producers from using the character but later allowed her to be included. In the show, Garth features as the best friend of Aqualad/Kaldur'ahm.
Conception and creation
The series began development in March 2009, when Sam Register, Executive Vice President of Creative Affairs of Warner Bros. Animation (also attached to executive produce), wanted a show based on the concept of a cross between Teen Titans and Young Justice series of comics, but was not solely an adaptation of one or the other. The title chosen for the show by Register was Young Justice, as it was appropriately meaningful to the concept the creative team was looking for. Greg Weisman, whom Register sought immediately after the cancellation of The Spectacular Spider-Man animated television series, and Brandon Vietti, whose work in directing a DC Universe Animated original movie Batman: Under the Red Hood, Register particularly noted, were hired to produce. Register jokingly described the two as being similar in appearance, in addition to being similar in thought. Peter David, who penned a majority of the comic book issues of Young Justice, was approached to write several episodes. Also attached to write were Greg Weisman, Kevin Hopps, Andrew Robinson, Nicole Dubuc, Jon Weisman, and Tom Pugsley—with Vietti heavily involved in the book writing process. The show's production was started after the cancellation of a planned Nightwing series, which was scrapped in favor of this project.
The result of the collaboration of Weisman and Vietti was a show about young heroes based on a combination of the 1960s Teen Titans run and the 1990s Young Justice run, in addition to the recent Teen Titans and Young Justice comics, and revolved around the theme of secrets and lies. In drawing material from a variety of comic book sources, the creative team sought to differentiate the tone of the show from that of the Teen Titans animated television series, which the team believed resembled the tone of the Young Justice series of comics rather than that of Marv Wolfman and George Pérez' New Teen Titans series on which it was based. The concept of a covert operations team has been compared to Impossible Missions Force, a fictional independent espionage agency in the Mission: Impossible series. Together, Weisman and Vietti came up with ideas, characters, and plot points for at least two seasons, although it is unknown as to how many season runs DC Entertainment and Warner Bros. Animation were looking for the series. Although there were several characters the producers were not allowed to use in the first season (a list that became shorter along the course of the development), they were usually in charge of the decisions determining which DC Universe character would or would not be used. Geoff Johns, Chief Creative Officer of DC Entertainment, and Phil Bourassa, lead character designer for the show, also played a role in the conception and development process.
The initial six main characters were chosen by the producers, from a list of potential candidates of 50 to 60 DC Comics teenage superheroes. The criteria consisted of age, powers, personality, cultural icon status, and dynamics. An additional regular, Zatanna, was introduced partway through the first season, and Rocket was added at the end of the season.
Production and design
The producers intended to create costumes based in reality to match the tone of the series while keeping consistent with traditional DC Universe continuity. A majority of the art direction was led by Vietti, who established that the costume designs should not only reflect the physical needs of the wearer, but also his or her personality, with Bourassa incorporating these ideas into his designs. In the case of Kid Flash's suit, for instance, the padding serves to reduce the force of impact experienced during skids and collisions, and the leathery texture stabilizes his "human cannonball" momentum.
Vietti cites the differences between the respective costumes of Aqualad and Robin to best illustrate what he calls "unique tailoring". Aqualad's costume is designed for the purposes of quick movement in water, and is composed of a "slick and textureless material", giving the costume its "nearly seamless and shiny" appearance. Robin's costume provides bodily protection (even against bullets) in the streets of Gotham City, and is padded and stitched with seams and sewn-in materials. Batman's batsuit matches the extra stitching lines of Robin's outfit for similar functions, except that the batsuit is more military in style whereas Robin's costume is additionally influenced by athletic outfits to match his youthful energy.
Music and animation
MOI Animation, Inc. animated Young Justice. Warner Bros. subcontracted production to the international studio located in Seoul, South Korea. Artists at the U.S. animation studio in Los Angeles, Warner Bros. Animation, drew storyboards; designed new characters, backgrounds, and props; drew character and background layouts; and made animatics. The overseas studios in South Korea, MOI Animation, Inc. and Lotto Animation, drew the key animation and inbetweens. However, Greg Weisman notes that some storyboards were done in Seoul. In the final stages, ink and paint and editing were done by Warner Bros. Animation.
In January 2013, Cartoon Network had meetings with potential clients and promotional partners in which they announced their 2013–14 programming lineup. Cartoon Network had confirmed that the remaining episodes of the second season, Young Justice: Invasion, had aired entirely. Green Lantern: The Animated Series received the same treatment, and both shows were expected to have their DC Nation slots replaced by new shows, Teen Titans Go! and Beware the Batman. Warner Brothers officially stated that they were not open to a third-party crowdfunding-campaign, intended to result in a third season of Young Justice. Therefore, the ending of the Apokolips storyline was not likely to get resolved.
In December 2013, Kevin Smith and Paul Dini had a conversation in an episode of Smith's Fat Man on Batman podcast addressing the 2013 cancellation of Tower Prep (created by Dini), Young Justice, Green Lantern: The Animated Series, claiming that the network executives did not want girls watching the programs because "they don't buy toys," and wanted more boys watching. This led to a widely held belief that the show was cancelled due to too many girls watching; however, Greg Weisman denied that the show's female viewership was a factor in its cancellation.
In January 2016, Weisman finally revealed the reason for the show's cancellation on the podcast "The Hip-Hop Nerd." The show's funding was based on a toy deal with Mattel. The toys were not selling enough so Mattel cancelled the toy line, pulling the funding for the show. With no sources of income large enough to replace the money from Mattel, the show was not picked up for a third season.
In February 2016, in response to season 2 of the show being released on Netflix, Greg Weisman posted a tweet advising fans that the chances for a third season could be helped by watching on Netflix or buying the Blu-ray releases.
Later that month, rumors began circulating that Netflix was considering reviving Young Justice for a third season based on its viewership numbers. When asked if he thought a third season was possible, producer Brandon Vietti replied, "I don't know. That's the best answer I can give you. I'd be happy to do another one; Greg [Weisman] would be; Phil Bourassa, the character designer. We'd all in a heartbeat come back to do a third season if the Powers-That-Be feel they want to do that." Weisman clarified in subsequent tweets that while Warner Bros (or Netflix) had not expressed interest in a third season, a strong showing on Netflix could motivate WB into action on a potential third season. Some voice actors from the show, including Jason Spisak, Eric Lopez, Khary Payton, Yuri Lowenthal, Nolan North, Stephanie Lemelin, Danica McKellar, Crispin Freeman, Vanessa Marshall, Kelly Hu, and Jason Marsden have all voiced their interest in a third season, as well as Young Justice comic illustrator Christopher Jones, who also vouched his support on his personal blog, and other voice actors like Susan Eisenberg, the voice of Wonder Woman in Justice League and Justice League Unlimited.
In March 2016, a petition was made to convince DC Comics and Warner Bros. to revive the Young Justice comic book line, written by Christopher Jones & Greg Weisman.
On June 26, 2016, Greg Weisman commented that the possibility of Young Justice returning for a third season is "very real," but noted that fans need to keep the show trending to convince Netflix and Warner Bros. to pick it up for a season three.
On August 23, 2016, a Reddit user claimed to have heard that Peter David was approached by Netflix about a potential Young Justice season 3. This was later debunked by both Greg Weisman and Peter David. Later that day, Peter David clarified on his website that when he was having lunch with Greg Weisman a few weeks before, he stated that Weisman told him that Netflix is "seriously considering" a third season.
On September 9, 2016, Greg Weisman gave response to questions on his website Station Eight regarding the possibility of Netflix picking up the show for a third season. He stated, "I think there's a decent chance of the show coming back. Not a guarantee, mind you, but a solid decent chance. I don't say that lightly either."
On November 7, 2016, a third season was officially announced. Sam Register, President of Warner Bros. Animation and Warner Digital Series stated, "The affection that fans have had for Young Justice, and their rallying cry for more episodes, has always resonated with us. We are excited to bring the show back for this loyal fanbase and to provide an opportunity for new viewers to discover this excellent series." The original showrunners, Brandon Vietti and Greg Weisman, will be returning.
On February 7, 2017, Khary Payton, who plays Aqualad in the series, confirmed to Comicbook.com that he would return to voice the character in season 3. On February 27, 2017, Phil Bourassa, Young Justice's lead character designer, revealed, via Instagram, that he had begun working on the third season, and a week later, also revealed that some scripts have been completed.
Since its original airing, Young Justice has garnered critical acclaim for its originality as well as its mature and complex storyline. In December 2011, Young Justice was placed at number 20 on IGN's "Top 25 Comic Book Shows of All Time." In March 2012, DC Nation garnered double and triple digit ratings gains versus the previous year for Cartoon Network. Young Justice: Invasion averaged an audience of 1.9 million viewers every Saturday since returning to Cartoon Network with the series finale episode “Endgame” being the top-rated show for Cartoon Network for the week of March 11–17, 2013, beating out other network stalwarts such as Regular Show, Adventure Time, and Dragons: Riders of Berk. Following cancellation, the entire show was called "mature, intelligent... struck an emotional chord with viewers... incredible".
Many actors have also garnered acclaim for their roles such as Jason Spisak who, according to critic Ava Dordi, "captures the Lighthearted essence of Kid Flash well" as well as Nolan North, who producer Greg Weisman notes provides "good separation" between the dual roles he portrays as Superman and Superboy.
Geoff Johns took a liking to Kaldur'ahm as Aqualad, who was consequently introduced to mainstream continuity altered in comic book issue No. 4 of Brightest Day as the second incarnation of the mantle. In Brightest Day, he is introduced as a teenager from New Mexico by the name of Jackson Hyde who is largely unaware of his Atlantean roots. In addition to his design, many aspects of the new Aqualad's back-story had to be altered to fit within the established continuity of the DC Universe. Artemis was also brought into the main timeline during the early days of the New 52, but was killed within one issue of her appearance, to great fan outcry.
On the program Conan, Conan O'Brien visited Bruce Timm during one of his segments and they developed a super hero named The Flaming C. However, on several occasions, their original creation would be animated in preexisting sequences from Young Justice using the voice acting of whichever character Flaming C was placed over. These scenes were taken from "Fireworks", "Welcome to Happy Harbor", "Schooled", and "Denial". In the comic book Young Justice/Batman: The Brave & The Bold: Super Sampler, the Team is seen watching the Flaming C on television.
In 2014, WatchMojo.com ranked Young Justice the fourth best cartoon to have been cancelled, and seventh in their Top 10 Animated Superhero TV series.
Three volumes of four episodes each were individually released to cover the first half of the first season, and later sold together as a "fun-pack". The remainder of the first season was released as a single package with all 14 episodes. Season 2 was released as two different 2 disc volumes containing 10 episodes each. Season 2 part 1 is called "Young Justice: Invasion Destiny Calling". It was released on January 22, 2013. Season 2 part 2 is called "Young Justice: Invasion Game of Illusions" and was released on July 16, 2013. A Blu-ray release of season 1 to be released manufacture on-demand via Warner Archive is set for August 12, 2014. The second season, Invasion released on Blu-ray on November 18, 2014.Warner Brothers also released Volume 1 as part of the Justice League: 3-Pack Fun box set, which also includes the two-part Justice League episodes "The Brave and the Bold" and "Injustice For All", and the Justice League Unlimited episodes "For The Man Who Has Everything", "The Return", and "The Greatest Story Never Told".
Young Justice has an official tie-in comic book series outside the television broadcast, expanding on the show's coverage of the continuity. It was written by Greg Weisman and Kevin Hopps, who were a part of the show's writing team. Mike Norton provided the interior art for the first four issues and cover art for the first six issues. Christopher Jones provided interior art beginning with issue #5, and cover art beginning with issue #7. Art Baltazar and Franco Aureliani substituted in place of Weisman and Hopps for issues #1–6, due to the latter duo's conflicting schedule and workload. Along with Brandon Vietti, Weisman and Hopps oversaw the issues for the maintenance of continuity. While children of all ages are said to be able to enjoy the series, it is specifically aimed at teenagers.
The comic series largely takes place in-between the episodes of the show, and often expands upon events alluded to or mentioned in the series. For instance, issue No. 0 follows Kid Flash and Superboy as they attempt to kill time while the members of the Justice League set up Mount Justice for their arrival at the end of the pilot episode. In the episode "Welcome to Happy Harbor", Robin mentions that the Justice League had been forced to abandon their headquarters in Happy Harbor after its location was compromised by supervillains, which is revealed in issue No. 2 of the comic book series to have been orchestrated by the Joker. In addition, Baltazar and Aureliani confirmed that they were asked to introduce the Joker in the comic in order to set up his eventual appearance on the show.
Starting with the 20th issue, the comic was rebranded Young Justice: Invasion to match the title of the show's second season. The series was canceled in November 2012, with issue #25 being the last.
A video game based on the show called Young Justice: Legacy was released in November 2013, for Nintendo 3DS, Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. Young Justice: Legacy was originally going to be released on the Wii, and Wii U consoles as well, but these versions of the game were canceled due to quality issues. The game was developed by Little Orbit, and features 12 playable characters and 12 villains.
Additionally, several products based on the series were licensed for release. Mattel released lines of character action figures and accompanying playsets, among other toys and games. In addition to toys for the six lead characters, figures of Cheshire, Icicle Jr., Black Canary, Batman, Aquaman, the Flash and Ra's al Ghul have been confirmed as well. Starting March 13, 2011, McDonald's restaurants began featuring Young Justice toys in their Happy Meals. Figures include Robin, Aqualad, Kid Flash, Superboy, Superman, Batman, and the villains Captain Cold and Black Manta.
Awards and nominations
The series also took third place (after My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic and The Legend of Korra) in a TV.com readers' poll for the "Best Animated Series" of 2012 and placed fifth in 2013 even after being cancelled.