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Superman: The Animated Series (often shortened Superman: TAS) was an Americanmarker animated television series starring DC Comics' flagship character, Superman. The series was produced by Warner Bros. Animation and aired on The WB from September 6, 1996 to February 12, 2000. Warner Bros. applied the same "more modern, more serious" animated treatment to DC Comics's flagship character in the same way they had successfully produced Batman: The Animated Series. As with the first season of Batman: TAS, the main opening "title" sequence of Superman: TAS had no actual title. The series was met with high praise from both critics and fans claiming it to be the most faithful adaptation of Superman to date and even nominated for an Emmy. Slightly to moderately edited reruns were aired on Toon Disney and are currently shown on Disney XD.

Overview

Airing 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 more 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.

One change to Superman's origin is that the evil computer Brainiac was not only from Krypton, but was 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 carried the infant Kal-El to Earth was designed to have a pilot, and the autopilot used instead was programmed to land smoothly upon reaching its destination. This means that the ship is in perfect working condition during Superman's adulthood and is used as his mode of long range transportation in space.

The reboot Lex Luthor featured prominently in the series as well, voiced by actor Clancy Brown. Superman was voiced by Tim Daly.

While the series featured adaptations of much of Superman's rogues gallery, the series' writers supplemented the supply of enemies by paying tribute to Jack Kirby's Fourth World creations which also introduced the villain Darkseid to the series as one of Superman's greatest enemies. 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 Superman: TAS, he was closer to the enormously powerful, evil cosmic emperor originally envisioned by Kirby. In addition supporting character, Dan "Terrible" Turpin, was also present.

On August 18, 1998, Warner Brothers released The Batman/Superman Movie on VHS and DVD. This movie was formed of the three-part episode "World's Finest" from the second season of Superman: TAS and featured Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill reprising their voice roles as Batman and the Joker respectively from Batman: The Animated Series.

Midway through the series' run, it was combined with The New Batman Adventures to become The New Batman/Superman Adventures. Superman: TAS itself was re-named The New Superman Adventures, as acknowledged by the WB. 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, Green Lantern, Martian Manhunter, Hawkgirl and The Flash.

Episode list

Cast

Actor Role
Tim Daly Superman / Clark Kent / Kal-El / Bizarro
Clancy Brown Lex Luthor
Dana Delany Lois Lane
Corey Burton Brainiac
Michael Ironside Darkseid
Gilbert Gottfried Mr. Mxyzptlk
Joseph Bologna SCU Lt. Daniel "Dan" Turpin
George Dzundza Perry White
David Kaufman James "Jimmy" Olsen
Lisa Edelstein Mercy Graves
Lauren Tom Angela Chen
Mike Farrell Jonathan Kent
Shelley Fabares Martha Kent
Joely Fisher Lana Lang
Victor Brandt Professor Emil Hamilton
Joanna Cassidy Inspector Maggie Sawyer


Notable regular guests



Behind the scenes

  • The character Dan "Terrible" Turpin was visually modeled after the character's creator, Jack Kirby. His first appearance in the episode "Tools of the Trade" also marks the first series appearance of "The Fourth World" characters and concepts that were Jack Kirby's major modern DC Comics creations.
  • Series producer Bruce Timm personally story-boarded Superman's climatic, final fight with Darkseid in the series finale, "Legacy", to ensure it would be done right and have as much impact as possible.
  • Lex Luthor's henchwoman, Mercy Graves, is a character created for the show. She was eventually added as a member of the cast in the comics. Also created for the series and eventually added into comics continuity is the supervillainess Livewire, who can control and turn into electrical energy.
  • Clancy Brown, who voice-plays Lex Luthor, originally auditioned for the lead role of Superman / Clark Kent, but when Bruce Timm heard his audition, he immediately offered Brown the part of Luthor.
  • Corey Burton's performance as Brainiac was done in the same cold, low-affect style as HAL 9000 in the Space Odyssey films.
  • Real-life married couple Mike Farrell and Shelley Fabares play Jonathan and Martha Kent.
  • Adam Baldwin was considered for the role of Superman/Clark Kent, but he ultimately proved unavailable, so the part went to Tim Daly instead. Baldwin later voice-played Superman/Clark Kent for Superman: Doomsday (2007).
  • An original character design sheet shows the characters as they were in the Adventures of Superman 1950s TV series, meaning that it was originally to be set during that period, or possibly end up like Batman: The Animated Series(set during modern time, but with a Art Deco feel). Another character design shows Perry White as black.


"Superman" The Animated Series merchandise

Video games



DVD

Much like Batman: The Animated Series and other Warner Brothers cartoons adapted from popular DC Comic books, Superman: TAS was released on DVD January 25, 2005, though it did not receive the same disc transfer as Batman: TAS 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. [24025]

A Direct-To-DVD feature, Superman: Brainiac Attacks (which technically isn't in the DCAU's continuity) was released on June 20, 2006. Another DVD feature, Superman/Batman: Public Enemies (also not in the DCAU's continuity) was also released on September 29, 2009. Both featuring Daly reprises his role as The Man of Steel.

DVD Name Ep # Release Date Additional Information
Superman The Animated Series: Volume 1 18 January 25, 2005
  • Commentary on "The Last Son Of Krypton Part 1", "Stolen Memories", "The Main Man" and "Tools of the Trade"
  • Superman: Learning to Fly Featurette
  • Building the Mythology: Superman's Supporting Cast
  • A Little Piece of Trivia - Pop up trivia over the "A Little Piece of Home" episode
Superman The Animated Series: Volume 2 18 December 6, 2005
  • The Dark Side: Behind The Villains Of Superman: The Origins and Evolution of Superman's Adversaries.
  • Audio Commentary on "Brave New Metropolis" and "World's Finest Part 1" with Bruce Timm, Paul Dini, Glen Murakami, James Tucker, Dan Riba.
  • Video Commentary on Mxyzpixilated with Bruce Timm, Dan Riba, Paul Dini and Moderator Jason Hillhouse.
Superman The Animated Series: Volume 3 18 June 20, 2006
  • Superman: Behind the Cape: David Kaufman (the voice of Jimmy Olsen) takes you behind the scenes with the show's creative team
  • Look, Up in the Sky!- the amazing story of Superman excerpts from the new documentary produced by Bryan Singer and Kevin Burns
Superman: The Complete Animated Series 54 November 24, 2009
  • Commentary by Bruce Timm, Paul Dini, Alan Burnett, Dan Riba, Glen Murakami, Curt Geda, Jason Hillhouse, James Tucker and Butch Lukic on many episodes
  • Superman: Learning to Fly - Explores the creation of the series
  • Building the Mythology: Superman's Supporting Cast - showcases the supporting players in the Superman Saga
  • Menaces of Metropolis: Behind the Villains of Superman - the origins and evolutions of Superman's adventures
  • Superman: Behind the Cape - David Kaufman (the voice of Jimmy Olsen) takes you behind the scenes with the show's creative team
  • Look, Up in the Sky! The amazing story of Superman - excerpt from the new documentary produced by Bryan Singer and Kevin Burns
  • Selectable Pop-Up Trivia Tracks
  • Bonus Disc Featuring the all new Documentary The Despot Darkseid: A Villain Worthy of Superman


Deleted scene in DVD release

The original mourners attending Dan Turpin's funeral.
"Apokolips...Now! Part II" was later altered from its original airing on 7 February 1998. Originally the 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, 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: TAS Volume 3 Disc 3. The original sketches for this scene can be found at Michael Eury's book The Krypton Companion book 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 might justify the deletion.

Differences from Batman: The Animated Series

  • Superman: TAS was originally meant to have an opening montage similar to the one Batman: TAS had, showcasing what Superman could do in an awe inspiring manner, but the animators were unable to finish it by the deadline, so a montage featuring clips of Superman in action alongside his supporting cast from the episodes was utilized instead. Part of the abandoned montage, which featured Superman flying in the night sky of Metropolis, made it into the opening. Another such shot was the final one in the opening; the classic visual of Clark Kent ripping open his shirt to reveal the big red "S."


References

References to the DCAU and DC Comics

  • In the episode "Heavy Metal", "Cousin Spunky" from the Batman: TAS episode "Baby Doll" can be seen in the background along with the other men right after Steel's niece stops the car after running out of gas as well as when the crowd begins to gather around Metallo after he has been defeated. "Cousin Spunky" is also seen in the Justice League series.
  • In the episode "Father's Day", G. Carl Francis, from the Batman: TAS episode "The Laughing Fish" (who was threatened by the Joker for not copyrighting his fish), appears as a restaurant employee.
  • The Prometheon rock creature, from the episode of the same name, actually made his first appearance in a Green Lantern comic as a servant of Gaia.
  • In the comics, Maggie Sawyer is a lesbian and is in a longterm relationship with another woman, a subject that Lex Luthor once tried to blackmail her for. While it is never stated in the animated series, there is an episode where a wounded Sawyer is visited by a woman in the hospital; the same woman later is seen consoling Sawyer at Turpin's funeral. Commentary on the DVD version of the episode (as well as the episode's voice credits) acknowledges the woman as being Toby Raines, Sawyer's long-time girlfriend from the comics, whose—albeit tamed—inclusion in the series was a nod to fans of the comics.
  • The episode "Obsession" opens with Clark Kent and Jimmy Olsen covering a fashion show. Also clearly seen amongst the press is Billy Batson, who works for WHIZ-TV in the comics and is the alter ego of Captain Marvel.
  • In the episode "In Brightest Day...", Sinestro and Kyle Rayner briefly battle on an airstrip. One plane has the words "Col. Hal Jordan" on the side. Hal Jordan is the Silver Age Green Lantern. The thug who tries to mug Jimmy Olsen and Kyle Rayner at the beginning of the episode is not named, but he bears a resemblance to Guy Gardner, another Green Lantern.
  • The semi-truck in season 1 episode 8 "Stolen Memories" was directly patterned after the Batmobile from Batman: TAS, as discussed in the audio commentary for that episode.
  • Miguel Ferrer who plays the voice of Aquaman and Weather Wizard in this series, also played Weather Wizard in the 1997 Justice League of America pilot and went on to play Martian Manhunter in Justice League: The New Frontier.
  • Dana Delany (Lois Lane) and Clancy Brown (Lex Luthor) reprised their roles in The Batman season 5 episodes "The Batman/Superman Story, Parts One and Two". Tim Daly, however, did not reprise his role as Superman; George Newbern, who had assumed the role in Justice League and it's sequel series Justice League Unlimited, voiced Superman.
  • In the episode "The Main Man" part 2, one of the spaceships resembles the Batwing from the first Batman film.


References to other versions of Superman

  • In the episode "The Last Son of Krypton: Part 2", Martha Kent considers Christopher and Kirk as names for newfound Kal-El.
  • In Stolen Memories, Superman punches Braniac's laser beam, in reference to the first Fleischer Brother Superman cartoon.
  • Sarah Douglas who voiced Phantom Zone villain Mala in the episode "Absolute Power" played Phantom Zone villain Ursa in Superman and Superman II
  • In the episode "Target," when Superman rescues Lois Lane from a rogue elevator with a bomb, he uttered the line "I believe this is your floor," in reference to Christopher Reeve's similar line in Superman II after rescuing Lois from the elevator of the Eiffel Towermarker, which also has a bomb on board.
  • In the episode "New Kids in Town", guest starring the Legion of Super-Heroes and set in Superman's teenage years, Jonathan Kent's favorite show was said to be The Dukes of Hazzard. Appropriately, John Schneider, co-star of that series, went on to be featured prominently in the Smallville TV series as Jonathan Kent, from 2001 to 2005.
  • In the episode "Blast from the past - Part II", Lois Lane utters the line "Your fingers must hurt from choking me" to villainess Mala. This is a reference to the movie Superman II, in which the character Ursa, who inspired Mala's concept, frequently grabbed Lois by her throat.


Other References

  • In the episode 'Unity' a nerdy friend gives Kara a collection of comic books. Obviously disinterested she stashes them in her bag. She opens one up on the bus and says 'Spider powers, ew!'. A reference to Marvel Comics' Spider-Man.


Animated Superman post-Legacy

  • When Superman is seen again at the beginning of Justice League, the human race appears to have forgiven him. In fact, while addressing the United Nations in "Secret Origins," Superman says, "I've worked long and hard to earn your trust" (which has been taken as a reference to "Legacy"). The events of "Legacy" are directly referenced in Season 2's "Twilight" (when Superman again encounters Darkseid) and the "Cadmus" storyline in Justice League Unlimited.


  • One of the creatures Superman brings back to the Fortress of Solitude after his battle with the Preserver is Starro. In the Batman Beyond two-parter episode entitled, "The Call", the creature escaped and was controlling Superman for some time until Terry McGinnis (the future Batman) helped him overcome it.


  • In Static Shock episode "Toys in the Hood", the story about Darcy the android and the Toyman from third season's "Obsession" comes to a conclusion.


External links




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