While I was a bit disappointed when I first heard that Warner Bros. would be targeting a younger demographic – in the 8-11 age range – with their new animated series, Justice League Action, I completely understood their intentions. With the comics, animated films, and films all targeted towards teens-adults they need something to attract the younger demographic and ensure future interest in their characters.
Then it hit me. I was right in that age range, and actually a bit younger, when I was watching Batman: The Animated Series, Batman Beyond, Teen Titans, Justice League, and Justice League Unlimited. Those shows were exciting for both kids and adults, they offered complex characters that were extremely true to their comic book counterparts and they showcased interesting, intriguing, and thought-provoking storylines that didn’t talk down to the audience.
Whereas DC animation could be enjoyed by both adults and kids alike, it is now separated into specific content for adults and specific content for kids. The new animated movies are ridiculously violent, ripe with cliche innuendoes, and overall a major step back from the DCaU’s golden age and the Timmverse. The new animated series, focussed on younger viewers, is riddled with childish humor, simple storylines and plot arcs and treats its audience as unintelligent children that just need to be stimulated with fast-paced action and potty humor.
So in trying to cater specific content to specific demographics, the quality of their content has fallen considerably.
Here’s a suggestion. Just go back to what worked. Make content that both adults and kids can enjoy; produce shows and movies that parents can watch with their kids instead of making overly-simple, childish shows that talk down to the younger audience and overly-violent, ridiculous movies that come off as trying too hard, and just don’t hold up to prior incarnations.
An argument can be made that it is, in fact, Cartoon Network that is forcing them to produce new series such as Justice League Action in lieu of the tone and intelligence we witnessed in the older, more serious shows like Justice League and Young Justice. And this is probably true. But, as a DC fan I would have hoped that they would have found an alternative method to bringing their shows to us — Netflix, CW Seed, and direct-to-video are only a few options that could suffice in this day and age.
As someone whose childhood was sculpted by Batman: The Animated Series and Justice League, I have been extremely disappointed in the recent movies and shows that have been released by the company. And unfortunately, I don’t see a course correction anytime soon.