YOUNG JUSTICE/GREEN LANTERN: A Response to the Official Response
Although the word cancellation has never actually been used, it's pretty apparent that both Young Justice and Green Lantern: The Animated Series are coming to an end. We've received one non-confirmation on the subject, and what follows is a response to that lack of response.
Last week when Cartoon Network announced its 2013 schedule, it was pretty apparent that the Young Justice and Green Lantern: The Animated Series portions of DC Nation were nowhere to be found. Around the web fans began to wonder if the shows had been cancelled. There was almost instant outcry over the possibility, followed by online petitions. Finally, an official statement was made on DC's Facebook page: "Thank you to all our fans for expressing just how much they love DC Nation on Cartoon Network. There's still more new Young Justice and Green Lantern: The Animated Series to enjoy in the coming weeks. And DC Nation isn't going anywhere - There will be plenty of new adventures coming your way later this year."
That's all fine and good, but, to be fair, this really was a non-response to the fans who have been proving themselves so loyal to both series. To begin with, not one person expressing their anger said anything about the possibility of losing DC Nation. The fact that the same original announcement that didn't mention YJ or GL did include the CG Beware the Batman and Teen Titans Go! pretty much establishes the fact that DC Nation itself will be back. No, the frustration comes from lack of real information about the fate of the other shows. And the truth is, neither show is in production at the moment and haven't been for quite some time. In the world of animation, and given the long lead-time for episodes to be produced, it's impossible for a show to go forward if it isn't constantly in production. So, yes, there will be more Young Justice and Green Lantern in the weeks to come, but whenever the current string of episodes of both run out, then that will be it.
The real question, of course, is why? While we're not aware of what the ratings are, it would seem that they couldn't have been very high or we wouldn't be having this conversation. That being said, the truth is - especially in the case of Young Justice - there were sometimes ridiculously long hiatuses (up to several months) between episodes, and no show - whether animated on Saturday mornings or airing in primetime - can hope to sustain an audience if the show isn't around to be viewed. Additionally, marketing for these shows simply wasn't there, official announcements of upcoming episodes sometimes being posted on the Friday afternoon/early evening before the episodes were going to air, leaving virtually no time for the word to spread.
Two other issues likely came into play: first, if the merchandise based on an animated series doesn't sell, you can be assured that that show will not be on the air for a long time. For instance, the Star Wars animated series Clone Wars in its first or second year had reportedly moved over $2.5 billion in merchandise, assuring that that series isn't going anywhere. The other - and this is pure supposition - is the fact that it seems animation is in the midst of youthifying itself. Marvel has certainly done it with Ultimate Spider-Man, the cancellation of The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes and its replacement by the (presumably) more kid-friendly Avengers Assemble, and the forthcoming Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H. And with DC, when DC Nation was announced it was heralded with young kid-skewing shorts between episodes of YJ and GL. Plus the aforementioned new Batman and Teen Titans will no doubt not be nearly as "edgy" (all things being relative) as the shows that they are replacing.
Again, we ask why? Obviously cartoons are designed with kids in mind, but since the 1992 debut of Batman: The Animated Series, the DC Tooniverse has been designed in such a way as to appeal to the young and those young of heart no matter what their age. Over the past twenty-plus years what could have changed so much that the craft of writers like Greg Weisman and Brandon Vietti on Young Justice, and Giancarlo Volpe and Jim Krieg on Green Lantern are somehow not in vogue? How can shows with such interesting storylines and characters in evolution as they are on those shows be treated as they have been and unceremoniously dumped with no explanation? If nothing else, the fans who have kept them alive via their blogs, forum posts and overall support deserve a more detailed explanation rather than a carefully-worded press release that does its best to walk a line without actually saying anything.
For over two decades, Warner Bros. Animation has been the gold standard of superhero animation on television. Let's hope that that era is not coming to an end.
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