Superman: The Animated Series
The Animated Series
|Developed by||Alan Burnett
|Voices of||Tim Daly
|Theme music composer||Shirley Walker|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||4|
|No. of episodes||54 (List of episodes)|
|Running time||21 minutes|
|Original channel||The WB|
|Original run||September 6, 1996– February 12, 2000|
|Preceded by||Batman: The Animated Series|
|Related shows||The New Batman/Superman Adventures|
Superman: The Animated Series (STAS) is an American animated television series based on the DC Comics flagship character, Superman. It was produced by Warner Bros. Animation and originally aired on The WB Television Network from September 6, 1996 to February 12, 2000. The series was the first of several spin-offs of the acclaimed Batman: The Animated Series, and was equally praised for its thematic complexity, quality animation, maturity and modernization of its title character. Re-runs of the series currently air on Hub Network.
Premiering ten years after the 1986 reboot of the Superman comic-book character, the animated series paid tribute to both the classic Superman of old and the newer "modern" Superman. For instance, the depiction of Krypton reflects the older idealized version in the Silver Age of Comic Books while the scope of Superman's powers reflect the more restrained contemporary concept as developed by John Byrne in that the superhero has to struggle to perform spectacular feats, while Clark Kent is shown to be openly, if quietly, self-confident (similar to the depiction of Batman's alter-ego, Bruce Wayne, in Batman: The Animated Series).
Midway through the series' run, it was combined with The New Batman Adventures to become The New Batman/Superman Adventures. The characters of Superman and Batman were then spun off into a new animated series, Justice League, which also featured other popular DC Comics characters, including Wonder Woman, The Flash, Green Lantern, Martian Manhunter, and Hawkgirl which spawned a sequel series Justice League Unlimited.
Development and production
Originally producer Bruce Timm wanted to have the show have a more 1940s Fleischer Studios Superman-cartoon feel. Another original character design sheet showed the characters in a stylised 1950s style (not unlike that of the live-action Adventures of Superman TV series), suggesting that the producers also considered setting the series during that period, or possibly ending up like Batman: The Animated Series (set during modern times, but with an Art Deco feel). As with the first season of Batman: The Animated Series, the opening theme sequence of Superman: The Animated Series lacked an on-screen title. Also like Batman: The Animated Series, the opening theme for Superman: The Animated Series lacked any lyrics, instead being an instrumental piece played over various scenes from the series.
In the series, the evil computer Brainiac is not only from Krypton, but is portrayed as responsible for preventing the knowledge of Krypton's imminent destruction from reaching its people so as to save himself, rather than be committed in the presumably futile task of saving the population of the planet. In addition, the ship that carries the infant Kal-El to Earth is designed to have a pilot, and the autopilot used instead was programmed to land smoothly upon reaching its destination. This was done so that the ship is in perfect working condition during Superman's adulthood and could be used as his mode of long range transportation in space. Access to Kryptonian technology and artifacts is initially severely restricted, such as the ship containing a phantom zone projector and Braniac's technology, although Superman later finds a devastated colony in Krypton's solar system with partially salvageable technology, in addition to Kara In-Ze in her functioning cryostasis capsule.
While the series features adaptations of much of Superman's rogues gallery, the writers supplemented the supply of enemies by paying tribute to Jack Kirby's Fourth World creations that introduced the villain Darkseid to the series as Superman's archenemy. Darkseid had been portrayed as a villain in Super Friends: The Legendary Super Powers Show and The Super Powers Team: Galactic Guardians in the 1980s, but in this series, he was closer to the enormously powerful, evil cosmic emperor originally envisioned by Kirby. Corey Burton's voice performance as Brainiac was done in the same cold, low-affect style as HAL 9000 in the Space Odyssey films, and was also modeled after the 'Control Voice' heard during the opening narration of The Outer Limits.
Notable regular guests
- Ron Perlman – Jax-Ur (3 episodes)
- Leslie Easterbrook – Mala (from the episodes "Blast from the Past Parts 1 and 2")
- Gilbert Gottfried – Mr. Mxyzptlk
- Sarah Douglas – Mala (from the episode "Absolute Power")
- Malcolm McDowell – John Corben / Metallo (6 episodes)
- Michael Dorn – Kalibak & John Henry Irons / Steel (6 episodes)
- Lori Petty – Leslie Willis / Livewire
- Bruce Weitz – Bruno Mannheim (5 episodes)
- Brad Garrett – Lobo & Bibbo & "Neato" Coralli (5 episodes)
- William H. Macy – Director of the Paranormals Institute
- Jason Marsden – Teenage Clark Kent
- Nicholle Tom – Kara In-Ze / Kara Kent / Supergirl
- Bud Cort – Winslow Schott / Toyman
- Brion James – Rudy Jones / Parasite
- Melissa Joan Hart – Saturn Girl
- Chad Lowe – Rokk Krinn / Cosmic Boy
- Scott Menville – Kenny Braverman
- Jason Priestley – Reep Daggle / Chameleon Boy
- Kevin Conroy – Bruce Wayne / Batman
- Mark Hamill – The Joker
- Arleen Sorkin – Dr. Harleen Quinzel / Harley Quinn
- Paul Williams – Oswald Cobblepot / The Penguin
- John Glover – Edward Nygma / The Riddler
- Bob Hastings – Commissioner James Gordon
- Charity James – Roxanne Sutton / Roxy Rocket
- Roddy McDowall – Jervis Tetch / The Mad Hatter
- Henry Silva – Bane
- Mathew Valencia – Tim Drake / Robin
- David Warner – Ra's al Ghul
- Efrem Zimbalist, Jr. – Alfred Pennyworth
- Olivia Hussey - Talia al Ghul
- Robert Costanzo - Detective Harvey Bullock
Superman: The Animated Series is widely regarded as one of the finest and most faithful adaptations of the character ever. It is considered the animated counterpart/equivalent to Batman: The Animated Series, sharing its unique animation style and adult-oriented approach. It currently holds an 8.3 rating on IMDb ranking 3rd on DCAU's best reviewed shows, behind only Batman and Justice League, which are listed as 1st and 2nd respectively. In January 2009, Superman ranked #36 on IGN's 'Top 100 Animated Series' list, again listed behind fellow DCAU shows Batman and Justice League, which were ranked #2 and #20 respectively.
Much like Batman: The Animated Series and other Warner Bros. cartoons adapted from popular DC Comic books, Superman: The Animated Series was released on DVD January 25, 2005, though it did not receive the same disc transfer as Batman did (the second disc of each volume was given the Side A/B treatment). The DVDs present the series' episodes in their airing order along with special features. Volume Two was released on December 6, 2005 and Volume Three was released on June 20, 2006. On November 24, 2009, Warner Home Video released Superman the Complete Animated Series, a 7-disc boxed set that includes all 54 episodes of the series as well as extensive bonus features.
A Direct-To-DVD feature, Superman: Brainiac Attacks was released in 2006, although it is not considered to be part of DCAU continuity, despite featuring the same character designs as Superman: The Animated Series, as well as both Tim Daly and Dana Delany reprising their voice roles as Superman and Lois Lane, respectively.
|DVD Name||Ep #||Release Date||Additional Information|
|Superman: The Animated Series - Volume 1||18||January 25, 2005||
|Superman: The Animated Series - Volume 2||18||December 6, 2005||
|Superman: The Animated Series - Volume 3||18||June 20, 2006||
|Superman: The Complete Animated Series||54||November 24, 2009||
Deleted scene in DVD release
"Apokolips...Now! Part II" was later altered from its original airing on 7 February 1998. Originally the Dan Turpin funeral at the episode's end was a true homage to late New Gods creator Jack Kirby and featured several of his comic creations as attendees to the funeral including Nick Fury, Fantastic Four, Big Barda, Scott Free, Orion and others, alongside Kirby's friends and fans Mark Evanier, Bruce Timm, Paul Dini, Alex Ross, his father Norman Ross and Stan Lee. These characters and persons were later removed and the scene pacing was re-edited for subsequent airings and its DVD release on Superman: The Animated Series Volume 3 Disc 3. The original sketches for this scene can be found at Michael Eury's book The Krypton Companion published by TwoMorrow's Publishing (ISBN 1-893905-61-6). Neither DC nor Warner ever commented on the decision to alter this particular scene, but copyright issues regarding the use of the likenesses of Marvel Comics characters and the long-time rivalry might justify the deletion.
On January 28, 2014, La-La Land Records released a 4-disc compilation of music from the series, collecting 20 complete episode scores, including those of the "World's Finest" three-parter, the "Apokolips... Now!" two-parter, the "Little Girl Lost" two-parter and "In Brightest Day...". It is a limited edition release of 3000 units and can be purchased through the label's website.
Superman 64, released for the Nintendo 64 console in 1999, was the first video game to be produced based upon the series, however it is considered to be one of the worst Superman video games and worst games ever. A second video game, Superman: Shadow of Apokolips was released in 2002 for the PlayStation 2 and GameCube consoles. It was produced by a different company, and was described as "a respectable but average superhero game.
Awards and nominations
- 1997- Best Individual Achievement: Music in a TV Production- Shirley Walker for Superman main title theme. (nominated)
- 1997- Outstanding Special Class Animated Program- Bob Goodman, Jean MacCurdy, Alan Burnett, Paul Dini, Bruce W. Timm, Dan Riba, Andrea Romano, Stan Berkowitz and Hilary Bader. (nominated)
- 2000- Outstanding Music Direction and Composition- Lolita Ritmanis for "Fish Story." (nominated)
- 2000- Outstanding Music Direction and Composition- Michael McCuistion for "In Brightest Day..." (nominated)
- 2000- Outstanding Sound Editing - Special Class- Gregory Beaumont, Diane Griffen, Mark Keatts, George Brooks, Kelly Ann Foley, Robert Hargreaves, Linda Di Franco, John Hegedes. (nominated)
- "Superman: The Complete Animated Series". DVD Talk. Retrieved 2010-08-16.
- Allstetter, Rob (August 1997). "Superman Gets Caged". Wizard (72). p. 118.
- "Superman: The Animated Series DVD news: Press Release for Superman: The Animated Series - The Complete Animated Series". TVShowsOnDVD.com. Retrieved 2011-01-02.
- "Superman: The Animated Series Volume One". DVD Talk. Retrieved 2010-08-16.
- "Superman: The Animated Series Volume Two". DVD Talk. Retrieved 2010-08-16.
- "Superman Reviews". GameRankings. Retrieved 2008-04-01.
- "Superman: Shadow of Apokolips". IGN. September 26, 2002. Retrieved May 14, 2010.
- Official website
- Superman: The Animated Series at the Internet Movie Database
- Superman: The Animated Series at TV.com
- Superman: The Animated Series on the DC Animated Universe Wiki, an external wiki