- This article is about the TV series. For the homonymous tie-in comics, see here.
"Don't call them sidekicks."
Young Justice is an American animated television series created by Greg Weisman and Brandon Vietti for Cartoon Network. Despite its title, it is not an adaptation of Todd Dezago and Todd Nauck's Young Justice series of comics, but rather, an adaptation of the entire DC Universe with a focus on young superheroes.
The series follows the lives of teenaged superhero sidekicks, who are members of a fictional superhero team simply known as the Team, and their relationships with their Justice League mentors. The story is set at a time where superpowers and superheroes are a relatively recent phenomenon.
Development for the series began sometime in 2009, when Sam Register, Executive Vice President of Creative Affairs of Warner Bros. Animation (and executive producer of the show) wanted a show based on the Teen Titans and Young Justice comic series, but was not solely one or the other.
Register sought Greg Weisman immediately after he finished work on The Spectacular Spider-Man animated series, and after seeing Brandon Vietti's work on the DC Universe Animated original movie Batman: Under the Red Hood, hired him also. After taking the production name of Young Justice League, Weisman and Vietti created characters, ideas, and story arcs for at least two seasons, although Warner Bros. Animation had ordered only one season theretofore.
Although there were several characters the producers were not allowed to use in the first season, such as Wonder Girl, the list has become shorter throughout the course of the development, they were usually in charge of the decisions determining which DC Universe character would or would not be used. Geoff Johns, Chief Creative Officer of DC Entertainment, and Phil Bourassa, lead character designer for the show, also played a role in the conception and development process. Peter David, who penned the Young Justice series of comics, was approached to write several episodes. The show continued to remain in its development stages in early February 2010, when Stephanie Lemelin announced on her blog that she had been recently cast.
- Main article: Main title clips
Animated by MOI Animation, Inc. and WUT IT IS, the opening sequence starts off with close-ups of the main cast and then dissolves into a montage of assorted scenes featuring the heroes in action. This footage was created either for promotional purposes or specifically for the main title. The end of each main title also features clips from its respective episode. The sequence is 20 seconds long, which was mandated by the network. Finally, the theme music is mostly synth. The special one hour event didn't feature an opening sequence. From "Misplaced" onward, the opening was shortened to buy time for the DC Nation shorts. It can still be seen on the episodes' HD versions for season one. As of season two, there is no opening sequence; just the title card.
Series creator Greg Weisman has spoken about the naming of episodes, saying that "[his] tendency has always been for one word titles", as 36 out of 46 episodes of both seasons together have been (including the hyphenated title "Drop-Zone"). The titles usually have layered allusions, referring to more than their literal meanings.
- Main article: Timestamp
The Young Justice television series and comic tie-in both feature the presence of timestamps in order to maintain an established timeline. Each timestamp indicates the current date, time and location, and usually appear when the location of scenes are changed. According to Greg Weisman, the timestamps were originally conceived to "ground the show in the moment and allow fans to get how much time has passed between episodes" and it was "the next logical step from what [he] tried to do on Spectacular Spider-Man" in which the timeline could be pinpointed by seasonal holidays. Prior to this, Weisman had first used timestamps on two issues of the comics by SLG: " " and " ". Those did not include locations, however. There has been one instance where timestamps were incorrect. The issue was subsequently resolved by Greg Weisman and the production team, who said "I'm seriously not at all sure how this happened. We did review the timestamps, and they were correct, but obviously at some point during the process of post-production they were changed and nobody noticed it." The timestamps were fixed for future airings and DVD releases.
- Main article: The Team
- Aqualad/Kaldur'ahm (Khary Payton) is the Atlantean leader of the Team. He is able to manipulate water at will, and breathe underwater through the use of his gills. His mentor, and his king is Aquaman, a member of the Justice League. Aqualad holds great respect for his mentor.
- Kid Flash/Wally West (Jason Spisak) is the speedster of the Team. He's always joking around, hitting on girls, and wants to have fun. His mentor and uncle is the Flash.
- Robin/Dick Grayson (Jesse McCartney) is a vigilante crime-fighter in Gotham City, and the Team's chief hacker. He's not only an incredible acrobat, but also the most experienced member of the Team and the youngest. His mentor is Batman.
- Superboy/Conner Kent (Nolan North) is a genomorph and a clone of Superman. He is quiet, brooding, serious and is constantly worried about living up to Superman.
- Miss Martian/M'gann M'orzz/Megan Morse (Danica McKellar) is a shy, caring, happy and kind white Martian posing as a green Martian, with the standard Martian abilities, including flight and telepathy. She is the Martian Manhunter's niece.
- Artemis/Artemis Crock (Stephanie Lemelin) is a confident, flirtatious, and very outgoing, sixth member of the Team. She is an archer and protégé of Green Arrow, hiding dark family secrets.
- Zatanna/Zatanna Zatara (Lacey Chabert) was introduced to the Team by her father, Zatara, during his time as "den-mother". After Zatara became the host of Doctor Fate, she became the seventh member of the Team.
- Red Arrow/Speedy/Roy Harper (Crispin Freeman) is the former partner of Green Arrow who now works as a solo hero, but helps the Team from time to time.
- Rocket/Raquel (Kittie) is the straightforward and bold partner to Icon who joined the Team and became its eighth member.
- Sphere is a machine from New Genesis picked up from one of the Team's missions to Bialya, Sphere is a loyal companion to Superboy. She can transform into assorted machinery, including a motorcycle-like vehicle which Wally has dubbed "the Super Cycle".
- Wolf (Dee Bradley Baker) is a pet adopted by Superboy and the Team whilst on a mission to India, enhanced with Kobra-Venom by The Brain that made him smarter and stronger.
- Black Canary
- Red Tornado
- Martian Manhunter
- Green Arrow
- Captain Marvel
- Main article: Season one
The first season of Young Justice follows the origins of the Team, starting from July 4. The season then proceeds through the Team's missions, and how they interact with one another on and off duty. The main antagonist for the series is the Light.
Greg Weisman has stated that the overall theme of this season is "secrets and lies, and also independence."
- Main article: Young Justice: Invasion
A second season in the form of a ten episode serial was confirmed shortly after the show's regular release in early 2011, before being picked up for 20 episodes instead. The series began airing on Cartoon Network on April 28, 2012, with "Happy New Year".
The series takes place five years after the first season, and follows a new team, headed by Nightwing, as they must deal with an alien invasion. Newly introduced characters include, Blue Beetle, Wonder Girl, and a new Robin. Several other minor characters from season one have stepped into their hero roles, including Barbara Gordon as Batgirl, La'gaan as Lagoon Boy, Garfield Logan as Beast Boy, Karen Beecher as Bumblebee, and Mal Duncan.
- Main article: Season three
A third season was announced on November 7, 2016, with original series creators Greg Weisman and Brandon Vietti returning to produce.
- Main article: Young Justice (comic)
A tie-in comic further explores the characters and locations of the television series, published by DC's Johnny DC imprint. The first issues were written by Art Baltazar and Franco Aureliani, with Mike Norton providing the art. Christopher Jones took over art duties with #5, and Greg Weisman and Kevin Hopps started writing from #7, after having done the zero issue.
Young Justice was marred with a convoluted and extremely irregular broadcasting history. Following a nigh two-month gap between the sneak peak and the official premiere of the regular series, Cartoon Network aired the first nine episodes of season one on the Friday afternoon slot from January to March 2011. The series was scheduled to return with "Targets" on June 3, but it was postponed for unknown reasons. The ongoing hiatus lasted six months, making it the longest break in the history of the show's run.
The series finally resumed airing on September 2011 for nine more episodes, only to be plunged in yet another break after the broadcast of "Secrets". Three and a half months later, the show returned with "Misplaced", as a part of the DC Nation programming block in the Saturday morning timeslot. It aired 15 episodes, segueing into the second season with no breaks, until June 2012, when it was pulled again from the air.
Nearly four months later, CN aired two more episodes in September, but in an inexplicable last minute change that preempted the entire schedule of October, the show was put in another hiatus for three more months, making up roughly seven months in which only two episodes aired. On January 2013, the remaining 11 episodes of season two aired uninterrupted.
Overall, Young Justice took two years, three months and 18 days to air all of its 46 episodes.
On January 28, 2013 when Young Justice was airing the last episodes of its second season, Cartoon Network announced its fall schedule, which didn't include Young Justice or Green Lantern: The Animated Series as returning series. This heralded the cancellation of both shows and fan protests were clamorous. In response to this, two Cartoon Network representatives issued comments about the absence of both shows from their upcoming line-up:
"Shows will run their courses, others will premiere – but we are not canceling anything, and those two series are still on our air."
"[We] still have premieres for both those shows and are committed to excellent action programming and are very excited about 'Beware the Batman.'"
While this didn't exactly confirm the shows' cancellation, it didn't confirm that they would return eventually either. Fans organized several campaigns to demonstrate Cartoon Network and Warner Brothers their support for both Young Justice and Green Lantern: TAS, which included donating toys to the Ronald McDonald House Charities, a Facebook page, online petitions, a letter writing campaign, a Fans Tribute video, sending Reach bottles, blue flowers, domino masks, and merchandise receipts to Warner Brothers, and, most notably, eight Twitter campaigns. Six of those campaigns managed to get their assigned hashtags trending internationally and even worldwide on four occasions. The hashtag #YoungJustice also trended on two occasions, in addition to the intended ones.
Shortly after the season finales of Young Justice and Green Lantern: TAS, a startup company called "my Show Must Go On" (SMGO) took it upon themselves to launch a crowdfunding campaign to save both shows, once they got permission from Warner Brothers. A meeting was scheduled for April 11, and, according to SMGO, Warner Brothers turned them down because they didn't think SMGO could reach their goals. Nonetheless, SMGO decided to enter the fundraising phase anyway to attempt to get $10 million, but this time to revive only Young Justice. SMGO managed to raise $33,700 in 18 days, but momentum quickly dissipated and by the end of the campaign, three months later, they had reached only 0.4% of their goal ($43,090 by 475 pledgers).
Despite the high ratings of Young Justice and its high ranking on iTunes' Top Animation TV Episodes and Top TV Episodes charts, neither Warner Brothers nor Cartoon Network ever officially acknowledged or addressed this wave of fan outcry. Nevertheless, the fandom's tireless efforts did not go unnoticed. On November 13, an episode of Teen Titans Go! appropriately called "Sidekick" featured a reference to the #SaveYoungJustice campaign.
During the following months, fan fervor eventually waned, but it never went completely away, as nods and references to the show occasionally resurfaced. On July 28, 2014 at the San Diego Comic-Con, Teen Titans Go! producer Aaron Horvath announced a Young Justice crossover episode. The episode titled "Let's Get Serious" aired on February 26, 2015 and it featured Aqualad, with Khary Payton reprising the role, chastising the Titans for being bad superheroes. Superboy and Miss Martian also appeared in non-speaking roles.
In January 2015, The Outhousers.com elected the cancellation of Young Justice as the "Most Maddening Moment of 2014", despite being over one year after the ordeal. Later that year, on August 19, the hashtag #RenewYoungJustice began to trend worldwide on Twitter with support from Greg Weisman, who encouraged fans to mail polite letters to Cartoon Network Studios, once again reigniting discussion about the show.
On February 1, 2016 when the second season began streaming on Netflix, Brandon Vietti and Greg Weisman galvanized fans to show their support for the show's revival by watching it and buying its merchandise. Voice actor Khary Payton (Aqualad) posted a tweet endorsing the initiative and later another one saying he had a "good feeling" about a potential third season. Fans soon organized a Twitter campaign to get the hashtag #RenewYoungJustice to trend on February 16.
One day later, a report resurfaced claiming that Netflix was considering reviving Young Justice for a third season based on its viewership numbers. On that same day, voice actress Danica McKellar (Miss Martian) urged fans to keep watching the show on Netflix and trend #RenewYoungJustice. On the following day, she tweeted a link to the Young Justice Needs a Season 3 Facebook page that by then had accrued over 400,000 likes. Eric Lopez (Blue Beetle) also tweeted his support and McKellar kept touting the campaign.
Following this, Greg Weisman exhorted fans to watch the show repeatedly on Netflix and broaden the fanbase, using the hashtag #KeepBingingYJ as the campaign's mission statement. Cameron Bowen (Robin) also chimed in his encouragement and Danica McKellar paired with Stephanie Lemelin (Artemis) to marshal more fans into action.
On February 27, while promoting his new animated film LEGO DC Comics Super Heroes: Justice League Cosmic Clash, Brandon Vietti told ComicBook.com that he would love to work on more episodes of Young Justice and teased the future of the show. This quickly became a trending topic on Facebook.
During the subsequent days, more support tweets ensued from various cast and crew members, such as Jason Marsden (Impulse), Khary Payton, Nolan North (Superboy), Crispin Freeman (Red Arrow), Danica McKellar, Jason Spisak (Kid Flash), Marina Sirtis (Queen Bee), comic book artist Christopher Jones, Vanessa Marshall (Black Canary), writer Peter David and Yuri Lowenthal (Lagoon Boy).
On March 5, fans managed to get the hashtag #KeepBingingYJ trending worldwide on another Twitter rally. Weisman repeatedly stressed out the importance of persistence and that this was a long haul campaign.
In an interview with CinePresto during the month of July, Greg Weisman explained that the show was cancelled because of low toy sales and that fans could show Warner Brothers that the series could be profitable by buying its merchandise.
During this nine-month campaign, the show trended several times on Netflix. Once again, these efforts did not go unnoticed, and the binging campaign made it to the newspaper comic strip Candorville, on September 3.
Finally, over three years after the cancellation of Young Justice, on November 7, 2016 Warner Brothers issued a press release announcing the production of a third season of Young Justice, with the original showrunners Brandon Vietti and Greg Weisman back at the helm:
#YoungJustice quickly became a worldwide trending topic that day on Facebook and on Twitter, even becoming a Twitter Moment. In the following day, #YoungJustice trended again on Twitter with 35,803 tweets.
There has been no announcement about where the show will air, however. According to Greg Weisman, "[Warner Brothers executives] have confidence [...] that wherever it winds up and whatever merchandise they may or may not eventually release or license, they'll still make a profit. That's based on what the fans proved over the last few years."
Home video releases
- Young Justice: The Complete First Season (Blu-ray)
- Young Justice: Invasion (Blu-ray)
- Season One, Volume One
- Season One, Volume Two
- Season One, Volume Three
- Young Justice: Dangerous Secrets
- Young Justice: Invasion – Destiny Calling: Season 2 Part 1
- Young Justice: Invasion – Game of Illusions: Season 2 Part 2
- List of catchphrases
- List of running gags
- List of similarities with Greg Weisman's other works
- Main title clips
- Number 16