Superman: The Animated Series

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Scots Dragon
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Re: Superman: The Animated Series

Post by Scots Dragon » Thu Sep 14, 2017 7:03 am

Jabroniville wrote:
Thu Sep 14, 2017 4:28 am
Wikipedia says thus:
Monkeys are haplorhine primates, a group generally possessing tails and consisting of about 260 known living species. There are two distinct lineages of monkeys: New World Monkeys and catarrhines. Apes emerged within the catarrhines with the Old World monkeys as a sister group, so cladistically they are monkeys as well. However, traditionally apes are not considered monkeys, rendering this grouping paraphyletic.
So, you know, very clear, and with a bunch of words I totally understand :). You are merely cladistically correct, but not paraphyletically.
In terms of taxonomy the paraphyletic method is often superceded by the cladistic method. Simply put apes are part of monkeys as a clade, as all of the common ancestors of apes are monkeys. Apes are a branch of monkey in the same way that humans are a branch of ape. There's no point at which we stopped being apes, there's no point at which apes stopped being monkeys.

Here's how the family tree goes;
Image
(From here, which goes into decent detail on the subject.)

Evolution's kinda weird like that. It's useful to sometimes make a distinction at times, but apes are still ultimately monkeys for all intents and purposes so it's not worth continuing to nitpick the concept.
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Re: Superman: The Animated Series

Post by Jabroniville » Thu Sep 14, 2017 9:04 am

It is if I LIKE to nitpick :p.

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Re: Superman: The Animated Series

Post by Arkrite » Thu Sep 14, 2017 12:36 pm

Jabroniville wrote:
Thu Sep 14, 2017 4:34 am
10-12) World's Finest- The great crossover between Superman & Batman, written by Steve Gerber, surprisingly!
This is how the Batman V Superman movie should have played out.
Seriously, it's just a good watch, all the characters and their motivations make sense, it's entertaining, and we don't have to have a bizzare stretch to get people to fight each other... or to smarten up and work together. It's all very organic and entertaining.

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Re: Superman: The Animated Series

Post by Ken » Thu Sep 14, 2017 3:09 pm

Jabroniville wrote:
Thu Sep 14, 2017 9:04 am
It is if I LIKE to nitpick :p.
And it is your thread.

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Re: Superman: The Animated Series

Post by RainOnTheSun » Thu Sep 14, 2017 9:31 pm

I really loved Metallo in this series. The combination of Malcolm McDowell's voice, and that music was like the Jaws theme and the Terminator theme had a baby.

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Re: Superman: The Animated Series

Post by Scots Dragon » Thu Sep 14, 2017 10:04 pm

RainOnTheSun wrote:
Thu Sep 14, 2017 9:31 pm
I really loved Metallo in this series. The combination of Malcolm McDowell's voice, and that music was like the Jaws theme and the Terminator theme had a baby.
Malcolm McDowell makes everything better.

Well, except for Star Trek Generations, though arguably nothing can redeem Star Trek Generations.
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Re: Superman: The Animated Series

Post by Ares » Fri Sep 15, 2017 2:51 am

It is interesting how Superman: TAS holds up on re-evalutation, and how it only rarely reached the heights of Batman:TAS. Though that's a bit unfair, as Batman: TAS is one of the best animated series ever in terms of characterization (you need shows like Gargoyles or Avatar: TLA to really compete). It's also interesting how Superman hasn't had an animated appearance since then, while Batman had at least three. I love Paul Dini as a writer and director, but I wonder if the whole notion of what to do with Superman in this series wasn't somewhat misguided. In interviews they mentioned how they wanted to make him more mysterious and alien, how he wouldn't be the type to stick around for interviews, that he wasn't really a "boy scout" character, etc. Even JLU Superman was more of a tool than I'd like.

I'm damned grateful for the Captain America films showing a modern audience that you can be a boy scout while also being a badass. In essence, I think the show was playing against a lot of the strengths of Superman early on.

I do appreciate a lot of what the show was fighting against at the time. This was the era of Superman with the longer hair (which was not, in fact, a mullet), Brainiac was a weird green psychic, Lex Luthor was inside a cloned version of his body and passing himself off as his own son, Supergirl was, as Peter David described her "sentient purple goo", etc. In some ways they were trying to get back to a lot of classic DC fun, with Brainiac being an android, Supergirl being his Kryptonian cousin (well, from a Kryptonian colony), while also keeping some of the better aspects of the Post-Crisis DCU, like Lex Luthor as a business man and a super scientist (and MAN did Clancy Brown kill it as Lex).

I also appreciate them using Superman's classic rogues while also trying to create new ones, such as Livewire. And I also appreciate that they didn't make Superman extremely overpowered compared to other heroes and villains, and often had to actually be clever to win. It was actually kind of refreshing to see Darkseid straight up kick Superman's ass during their fight, giving him a legit foe he just couldn't defeat through raw strength. Justice League and JLU undid a lot of that hard, but we got some of the best DCAU stories from JL Season 2 and the JLU Cadmus arc, so it's forgiven somewhat.

Overall, a show that probably could have benefited a bit from a more Avengers: EMH tone, being a bit more fun and action packed with some solid re-imaginings of classic heroes and villains. I also wish we'd have gotten the original Captain Marvel/Superman crossover in Superman:TAS when Dini was still involved. It'd have likely been a two-parter along the lines of the Lobo crossover, with better characterization and banter between the two. The only downside would have been the fight itself wouldn't have been anywhere near JLU level. Superman: TAS's animation and action scenes really don't hold up compared to JL Season 2 or JLU.

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Re: Superman: The Animated Series

Post by Scots Dragon » Fri Sep 15, 2017 2:55 am

I kind of feel in general that the attempts to reinvent Superman as anything other than the utterly dedicated and unwavering hero are kind of misguided at best and outright stupid at worst. I liked Superman: TAS (especially after the first season), but it's not the first port of call I'd recommend for a Superman fan for animated appearances of big blue. Honestly for as many problems as they sometimes have, I actually really like the old 1940s animated shorts, especially the earlier ones before the budgets were slashed, which were real exemplars of animation and a good example of how Superman can be almost plot-device powerful at times without necessarily being boring.

Also the animation itself is just utterly gorgeous.

You can find the first one here.
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Re: Superman: The Animated Series

Post by Ares » Fri Sep 15, 2017 3:16 am

Jabroniville wrote:
Thu Sep 14, 2017 4:34 am
10-12) World's Finest- The great crossover between Superman & Batman, written by Steve Gerber, surprisingly! Alas, it uses the "simplified" Timmverse versions of the characters, which really weakens the Joker in particular. The two heroes immediately don't get along, and in a great pair of moments, they totally figure out each other's identities (Bruce uncharacteristically doesn't have his cowl lined with lead or anything; Superman just doesn't notice a tracker). Batman intimidating Clark with the piece of kryptonite ("it doesn't take much, does it?") is great, as is The Joker flagging down Luthor by pulling the "sexy leg on the side of the road" schtick. GOD this incarnation of the character was perfect. And of course Lois has the hots for Bruce Wayne, who declares that Clark missed his shot. ICE COLD.

The second part sees Bruce shot at until he falls off of a building, but of course 9,000 bullets fail to hit him and nobody's suspicious. He survives anyway, and then Joker lures Superman into a deathtrap which he falls for easily (he didn't expect Joker could get through his vulnerable "anti-kryptonite" suit?). Batman saves the day by disintegrating the kryptonite (though that was Superman's idea), then flies off in the most hilarious way- simply hooking his grappler to the Batplane as it does a fly-by. Seriously, that would RIP YOUR ARM OFF.

Bruce Wayne is revealed when a Kill-O-Bot attack results in his cowl being torn off, and Lois is PIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIISSED, since they've been seriously dating to the point where she's planning on moving to Gotham City. Bruce's smart-assed "Well I never actually said I WASN'T Batman" is hilarious- I miss this interpretation of the character SO MUCH. Batman & Superman decide to team up in one big battle, where the Kill-O-Bots are MUCH easier to kill, despite being larger and more numerous this time, and soon blow up a GIGANTIC Flying Wing that Luthor built. Watching Luthor be repeatedly stymied by the nutty Joker is a great running gag (he tries a double-cross, but Joker is onto him and has him tied to a chair in the Wing), as is Mercy constantly getting the snot kicked out of her (Batman easily one-punches her with a backhand that sends her across the room).

We end things with Lois breaking things off with Bruce, and him leaving. The two superheroes kind of have an understanding, even if they don't really LIKE each other. A great set of episodes, with Joker & Harley Quinn bringing a ton of fun to the festivities.
This really was an incredibly well done trio of episodes, with the heroes rubbing each other the wrong way but becoming allies, if not friends. No contrived reason for a fight, everyone is in character, and we get to see the characters in and out of their comfort zones. Superman has a difficult time with the Joker's shenanigans, not really use to those kind of elaborate mind games, unpredictability, and requires Batman to save him. Batman, meanwhile, is not use to fighting giant killer robots, with everything he can bring barely slowing down something Superman casually defeats. Lex Luthor has difficulty with both Batman and the Joker, since Bruce is willing to operate outside the law in ways Superman isn't, and the Joker irrationality is impossible to predict. The Joker generally winds up looking the best, but when Lex finally has enough of his shit, Luthor shows that he could have killed the Joker, who needs to do some fast talking to save his own neck.

Overall, one of my favorite superhero crossovers. You also get the feeling that after the fight with the robots, Bruce went home and extensively re-trained himself and redesigned his weapons to take on more dangerous opponents, hence why he's more formidable in the Justice League series.

For a different take, I'd recommend folks check out the Batman/Superman two-parter in "The Batman", which I also like. It actually does something I thought was brilliant by completely rejecting the usual assumptions that Batman is an antagonistic loner and Superman is the team player. The two-parter instead showcases that Batman is someone who always surrounds himself with allies and partners, relying on them to do his job. Meanwhile Superman most often prefers to work alone, generally out of concern that the things he faces are too dangerous for others. We get a scene where Bruce actually briefly lectures Clark on the importance of teamwork, making it clear that BATMAN is the team player, and SUPERMAN is the loner who needs to be taught the value of teamwork. Very well done, I thought.

They do contrive to have the two fight, but here at least Batman has a reason for having some powerful exo-armor around that can at least briefly let him fight Superman, though as usual it's clear any direct physical confrontation can only end one way. And here, when the two do finally end it is as genuine friends rather than just grudging respect.

The Batman's crossover isn't as well done in terms of characterization, being only a two-parter so it needs to get the story moving faster. And could see some Superman fans not completely appreciating this take on the character (he does come off as more impulsive and the opening fight with Metallo does him few favors). But overall I thought it was really entertaining, helped with one of the most likable presentations of Batman/Bruce Wayne ever to see fiction. I'd recommend it.

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Re: Superman: The Animated Series

Post by Ares » Fri Sep 15, 2017 3:33 am

Scots Dragon wrote:
Fri Sep 15, 2017 2:55 am
I kind of feel in general that the attempts to reinvent Superman as anything other than the utterly dedicated and unwavering hero are kind of misguided at best and outright stupid at worst. I liked Superman: TAS (especially after the first season), but it's not the first port of call I'd recommend for a Superman fan for animated appearances of big blue. Honestly for as many problems as they sometimes have, I actually really like the old 1940s animated shorts, especially the earlier ones before the budgets were slashed, which were real exemplars of animation and a good example of how Superman can be almost plot-device powerful at times without necessarily being boring.

Also the animation itself is just utterly gorgeous.

You can find the first one here.
What I love is that this is one of the few instances where a studio decided that doing something right outweighted the cost.

See, at the time, the Adventures of Captain Marvel film serial had made Billy Batson and his alter-ego the first superhero in film, and it was proving ridiculously popular (even today it's held up as one of the best film serials ever) and profitable. DC realized they needed to get into the game, but rather than try to ape the live action work of Captain Marvel, the decided to go the animated route. When they approached the Fleischer brothers to make the cartoons, Max was apparently really burnt out from recent projects, and thus made no attempt at sugar coating or bargaining. He told them bluntly what a top of the line Superman cartoon would cost (it was pretty extravagant for its time), expecting the studio to back off. The studio instead said "Sure thing", and Max got perhaps the biggest project budget of his career.

This series is also responsible for a lot of well know parts of the Superman mythos, such as the "Faster than a speeding bullet" tagline, Superman changing in a phone booth, and is partially responsible for Superman being able to fly in the comics. The animators were having a hard time making the leaps Superman usually did in the comics look right, so instead they asked if it was okay to make him just flat out fly, or at least have more of a "gliding flight" aspect to him. The comic company okayed it, and between that, rivals like Capt. Marvel and Namor flying around, Superman started flying in the comics.

This series also had Superman as a powerhouse, but at the same time there were things that could and did hurt him, and he couldn't simply muscle his way through every problem. Several times in the face of large natural disasters, Superman needs to rely on science to save the day, rather than his own strength. When a giant magnetic telescope pulls down a meteor from space, every time Superman tries to stop it himself all he can do is delay the meteor's approach, and is clearly getting his ass kicked in the process. He needs to instead get Lois to use the original machine (that he is keeping powered) to send the meteor back into space.

Lois was actually ahead of her time here as well. While she does need a lot of saving, she also shows herself to be very brave and resourceful. She doesn't break under Nazi torture or pain of death, and when some criminals are trying to rob a train she's own, she actually picks up one of the gangster's tommy guns and opens fire on them.

There was also no "Clark Kent is the mask" thing where Clark is a simpering whimp while Superman is the "real" person. Clark Kent is a brave, resourceful individual who just pretends to have human frailty when he needs to change.

Superman here is a bit more of a mysterious figure, but much like with how Capt. Marvel killed several people in his film serial, this is sort of a proto-type Superman before he became firmly established. But overall, these shorts are very solid and a lot of fun.

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Re: Superman: The Animated Series

Post by Scots Dragon » Fri Sep 15, 2017 3:37 am

Lois being ahead of her time is well-reflected in the comics of the time as well to be fair. One unpublished comic, which remained unpublished because it would have disrupted the love triangle they were going for in the radio show, had her discover Superman's secret identity and start working with him as a partner. It's also the same story that would have introduced kryptonite, which would later ironically show up in the radio show itself despite not turning up in the comics directly.

You can find the comic itself here.
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Re: Superman: The Animated Series

Post by Jabroniville » Fri Sep 15, 2017 5:33 am

I can definitely sympathize with the creative team on this show, though. While it's no Batman: TAS, and I can find a boatload of flaws with this show... I gotta admit, I have no real idea on how to make it better. Better and more inventive fights, sure (Superman doesn't even use his HEAT VISION in 90% of these!), but it's a tough row to hoe.

Not only were they dealing with '90s Superman comics here, but the whole "90s Mentality" in the culture at the time- a world that was too "mature" for boy scouts and stuff like that. The Spider-Man cartoon around this time had Captain America act like a deliberate cheeseball ("Let's go make the world SAFE FOR DEMOCRACY!").

Plus, they were following on the heels of the successful Batman cartoon. Batman is not only MUCH easier to write for than Superman (guy with gun? instant threat!), with a far vaster Rogues Gallery (Superman runs out of good guys after about two, and needs to poach the Fourth World to even rate), but that show was SO well-respected that a show that couldn't possibly match the same tone that made BTAS so COOL was just going to disappoint everyone.

In addition to Supergirl, I feel like their hands were tied on the Legion of Super-Heroes as well.

What I'm finding weird so far is that they waited like 30+ episodes to introduce potentially-good characters like Steel, Supergirl (editorial issues were in effect here, of course), and more. And Jimmy Olsen has been recurring from the start, but has had absolutely zero focus whatsoever. I'm pretty sure Summer Gleeson had more of a role in BTAS than Jimmy Olsen has in this whole friggin' series. I know they couldn't really do "Superman's Best Pal, Jimmy Olsen" as a show concept in the '90s, but he needs SOMETHING to do!

Other weird things: No friggin' General Zod- the legendary villain of the second Reeve film? We had to wait until JLU for Doomsday, who at least had credibility.

Clancy Brown is really a revelation as Luthor, though. His deep baritone usually paints him as Dumb Thug (Wolf in Gargoyles; Dog Pound in TMNT's Nickelodeon series), but that very quality pays off with Luthor, who is suave and smart, but has that same brutish voice- Vocal Supervisor Andrea Romano is called "The Secret Weapon" of the Timmverse for a reason.

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Re: Superman: The Animated Series

Post by Jabroniville » Sat Sep 16, 2017 6:16 am

13) Superman's introduction to Apokolips, as Kalibak, frustrated with his father's disappointment, comes to Earth to beat up Superman. It's basically a full episode of fighting, with Supes trying to save his father (being crushed by some debris from the battle), while Kalibak keeps coming back for more. In the end, Superman outclasses him, easily parries all of Kalibak's punches, then tosses him for miles. Darkseid walks in, teleports Kalibak away, then drives Superman to the ground with his eye beams, going "THAT... is who I am". So we have our Mega-Villain, and it's established that he can put Superman down if he needs to. The episode itself is a bit weak, as I'd have liked to see more with the Kents meeting Lois for the first time, and Kalibak isn't exactly a complex opponent- he just hits.

14) A pretty generic one- an Evil Entity is awakened and decides to convert humanity to demons. Superman goes to recruit Doctor Fate (did I miss his debut in one of the earlier ones that don't work on my DVD set?), who refuses, since he's now given up fighting, because evil never gives up. However, impressed by Superman's sacrifice, he shows up anyway, and traps the demon using Magic (be remaking the old sealing tablet). Fate's all "you went back. Even though you didn't stand a chance, you went back", though this battle never really felt QUITE so impossible to overcome, so it kind of falls flat.

15) Bizarro returns, and observes the history of Krypton. Thus, in his insane mind, he decides to "recreate" it, kidnap Lois, then grab a theatre usher because he's dressed like "Da-Da!" (the long coat resembles Jor-El's onesie). Then he decides to blow it up, like Krypton. Not a bad episode, despite the simplistic villain- the freaky animal from the Fortress of Solitude constantly attacking people is a pretty funny running gag.

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Re: Superman: The Animated Series

Post by Davies » Tue Sep 19, 2017 5:40 pm

Jabroniville wrote:
Sat Sep 16, 2017 6:16 am

14) A pretty generic one- an Evil Entity is awakened and decides to convert humanity to demons. Superman goes to recruit Doctor Fate (did I miss his debut in one of the earlier ones that don't work on my DVD set?), who refuses, since he's now given up fighting, because evil never gives up. However, impressed by Superman's sacrifice, he shows up anyway, and traps the demon using Magic (be remaking the old sealing tablet). Fate's all "you went back. Even though you didn't stand a chance, you went back", though this battle never really felt QUITE so impossible to overcome, so it kind of falls flat.
No, this is his first appearance.

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Re: Superman: The Animated Series

Post by Shock » Tue Sep 19, 2017 5:54 pm

Jabroniville wrote:
Sat Sep 16, 2017 6:16 am
14) A pretty generic one- an Evil Entity is awakened and decides to convert humanity to demons. Superman goes to recruit Doctor Fate (did I miss his debut in one of the earlier ones that don't work on my DVD set?), who refuses, since he's now given up fighting, because evil never gives up. However, impressed by Superman's sacrifice, he shows up anyway, and traps the demon using Magic (be remaking the old sealing tablet). Fate's all "you went back. Even though you didn't stand a chance, you went back", though this battle never really felt QUITE so impossible to overcome, so it kind of falls flat.
I liked this one, mostly because of the Lovecraftian design of the bad guy and his minions.

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