2014 was a very successful year for DC Entertainment. Warner Bros. finally unveiled its lineup for a multi-film DC Cinematic Universe that will occupy the next few years, promising the long-awaited big screen debuts of many iconic characters. Several DC television shows premiered this year, with more in development. A new DC Animated Universe was created with the release of direct-to-video movies Justice League: War and Son of Batman. And 2014 saw the release of one highly anticipated video game and the announcement of another. In this part of our reflection, we look at the various DC Entertainment animation and television news of 2014.
As usual, DC Entertainment released three direct-to-video animated movies this year. However, what made 2014’s lineup stand out is the fact that two of the three titles existed in the same universe. Before, each movie was a standalone release that was set in its own world. But beginning with Justice League: War, two of the three annual releases from DC’s animated slate will inhabit the same world. War is an adaptation of the “Origin” story arc from the New 52 Justice League run, which told the story of how Batman, Superman, Green Lantern and more joined together to save Earth from the wrath of Darkseid. The former’s story was continued in Son of Batman, which adapts Grant Morrison’s “Batman and Son” storyline. In the film, Bruce Wayne discovers that he fathered a son, Damian, with Talia al Ghul, and the boy goes on to become the new Robin.
DC’s third animated title of 2014, Batman: Assault on Arkham, did not take place in this particular universe; rather it is set in the same world as the acclaimed Batman: Arkham video games. The events of the movie occur between Arkham Origins and Arkham Asylum. Despite the title, Assault on Arkham is clearly more of a Suicide Squad movie than a Batman movie. In the film, Amanda Waller sends the Squad – including Deadshot and Harley Quinn – to Arkham Asylum in an effort to retrieve information from The Riddler. However, things go haywire when The Joker is freed and attempts to bomb Gotham City, which of course, grabs Batman’s attention.
Also released this year was JLA Adventures: Trapped in Time, a direct-to-video animated feature outside of the main slate. This was originally a Target exclusive title before receiving a wide release in May. And rumor has it that another animated Batman film, Batman Unlimited, will be released in the near future.
At San Diego Comic-Con this year, DC Entertainment announced its 2015 animated lineup. As teased in War‘s post-credits scene, the next film will be Justice League: Throne of Atlantis. This movie adapts Geoff Johns critically acclaimed “Throne of Atlantis” arc, and it also serves as an origin story for Aquaman (Matt Lanter). The movie brings back a lot of the War voice cast – including Jason O’Mara as Batman and Sean Astin as Shazam. However, some roles have been recast, including Wonder Woman (Rosario Dawson) and Green Lantern (Nathan Fillion). Throne of Atlantis will be released January 27th, 2015.
Additionally, Son of Batman will receive a sequel titled Batman vs. Robin. Little is known about this film, but it will feature the Court of Owls in its animation debut. There is also a Grant Morrison comic arc of the same name, so don’t be surprised if the movie is inspired by that. Finally, the standalone title of 2015 is Justice League: Gods and Monsters, an original story developed by DC Animated Universe mastermind Bruce Timm. Again, little is known plot-wise about this feature, except this world will depict “darker” iterations of Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman. A three-part animated miniseries will air on Machinima next year, a few weeks before the full film’s release.
Animated movies based on DC properties aren’t always restricted to direct-to-video, however. Following his show-stealing turn in The LEGO Movie, Will Arnett’s Batman will star in his own spin-off film, slated for a 2017 release. Chris McKay will direct from a script by Seth Grahame-Smith. The LEGO Movie directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller are producing, and they previously stated that the spin-off will acknowledge “every era” of Batman’s cinematic history.
This wasn’t the only LEGO Batman project announced this year, however. Cartoon Network aired the television special LEGO DC Comics: Batman Be-Leaguered shortly before Halloween, while a second direct-to-video movie, LEGO DC Comics Superheroes: Justice League vs. Bizarro League, is set for a February 10th, 2015 release.
There has not been as much news regarding DC animated television shows in 2014. After a lengthy hiatus, Beware the Batman returned to Cartoon Network – or more specifically, Toonami. Like Green Lantern: The Animated Series before it, the latest animated Batman series lasted only one season before being canceled. However, Teen Titans Go! was renewed for a second season, which will conclude next month. There is currently no word on another season for the show, which has received mixed reviews among fans. There is also no announcement of any future animated DC shows, other than Machinima’s Justice League: Gods and Monsters Chronicles miniseries.
This year has also been light on video game news other than two major announcements. Firstly, 2014 saw the release of LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham, the latest installment in the highly successful franchise. This title sees the Justice League and the Legion of Doom teaming up to take on Brainiac. Beyond Gotham also features an extremely impressive number of DC characters; think of a character, and he or she is probably in the game. The number of DLC packs – which are based on Arrow, The Dark Knight Trilogy, Man of Steel, Batman Beyond and many more – only contribute to this. Other interesting draws to the game include the additions of Geoff Johns, Jim Lee and more as playable characters, as well as Arrow‘s Stephen Amell voicing Oliver Queen. Beyond Gotham is available for PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita, Nintendo 3DS, Wii U, Xbox One, Xbox 360, PC and iOS.
The other major DC game announced in 2014 was Batman: Arkham Knight, Rocksteady’s hotly anticipated conclusion to its acclaimed trilogy. Taking place a year after the events of Arkham City, this installment sees Batman taking on not only a group of his expected enemies, but also an entirely new foe – the Arkham Knight. The game – which will be Rocksteady’s last Batman title, period – will also allow players to control the Batmobile. Originally slated for a Fall 2014 release, Arkham Knight was later moved to a June 2nd, 2015 release.
We at Watchtower of Babel News gratefully appreciate all the support from our readers this past year. There have been plenty of exciting announcements from just about every area of DC Entertainment, and 2015 will likely be even bigger. We thank you all, and here’s to another successful year.
Which upcoming DC Entertainment animated movie or video game are you most excited for? Which was your favorite of 2014?