JUSTICE LEAGUE ANIMATED: Part 12 - Episodes 27-34
In the twelfth installment of this ongoing behind the scenes look at the making of Justice League: The Animated Series, we move on to season two with the focus on episodes 27-34, consisting of the two-parters "Twilight," "Tabula Rasa," "Only a Dream" and "Maid of Honor."
Original Airdate: July 5, 2003
Written by Rich Fogel and Bruce Timm
Directed by Dan Riba
Guest Starring: Michael Dorn (Kalibak), Michael Ironside (Darkseid), Corey Burton (Brainiac, Forager), Ron Perlman (Orion), Mitchell Ryan (Highfather), Rene Auberjonois (DeSaad), Tara Strong (Sara)
PLOT SUMMARY: Darkseid turns to the Justice League for help against Brainiac, who threatens both Apokolips and Earth. Reluctantly the League agrees, only to learn that the duo were working together to bring down Superman. The Man of Steel (at last!) gets pissed and decides to fight back.
PRODUCTION NOTES: “One of our high priorities for season two was to bring Superman back to full stature,” explains Bruce Timm. “If anything we may have overcompensated a little bit with some of the lines, but nobody could accuse him of being a wimp after this one. We also wanted to, as our season two opener, do as big, expansive and epic a storyline as we could. Bringing Darkseid back was definitely something that people had wanted to see, so it certainly made for a good stunt for the season two premiere. I think it all worked out well.”
A highlight of the episode’s climax was when Batman tries to stop Superman’s vendetta against Darkseid, and is thrown violently against a wall. “It was a good spin on their relationship,” he says. “I particularly love Superman’s line at the end where he tells Batman that he’s not always right. That’s another thing we get accused of quite often, that Batman is the one with all the answers, and he can take down the entire Injustice Gang all by himself, what does he need the Justice League for, and so on. That was a good bit to have Batman eat a slice of humble pie at the end.”
Original Airdate: October 4, 2003
Written by Stan Berkowitz
Directed by Dan Riba
Guest Starring: Clancy Brown (Lex Luthor), Lisa Edelstein (Mercy Graves), Robert Picardo (Amazo)
PLOT SUMMARY: Luthor unleashes a robot that can absorb and retain the powers of others. What he doesn’t expect, however, is that the robot will gain sentience in the process and see humanity as inferior beings.
PRODUCTION NOTES: “Starting with season two, I just felt I was doing a better job on the show,” muses Stan Berkowitz. “No one’s ever commented on that very twisted relationship that Luthor has with Mercy that began in a Superman episode. I remember reading an early draft and saying, ‘There’s literally no story here.’ Then I argued, as story editor, that there should be more of a relationship between Mercy and Luthor; that he treats her like a dog and she likes it. At that point, it was a story about a girl who had no one; a street urchin brought in by Luthor and now she’s just a devoted dog who will do anything for him, and no matter how badly he treated her, she’d be there for him. ‘Tabula Rasa’ started with that and then moved forward the relationship. In fact, she takes over his business when he goes to prison, but he still has a soft spot for her abuser. Obviously she has a weird sexual kink for him, he knows it and she fights it. At the end, she’s able to get beyond it. We couldn’t even suggest they were sleeping together, but to me it was pretty obvious.”
Says Timm, “The Amazo character was one of those villains from the comics that got a lot of screentime in the DC animated universe, so we thought he was a villain we should probably use. Unfortunately his design in the comics was really old school, real garish and bizarre and not very modern at all. We knew we had to change the design quite a bit, and the name is a little corny and old school as well, so we tried to avoid using the name out loud. But we kept the central motif that he can absorb the powers of any of the superheroes, which is the starting point of the episode. We also wanted to do more with Lex, since we had gone through all the trouble of making him a supervillain in season one. So there are always depths of depravity to explore with Lex. It was also good to bring the Mercy Graves character back from Superman: The Animated Series, because she was a character we’ve always liked. There’s a lot of good juicy soap opera stuff in it.”
“Only a Dream”
Original Airdate: October 11, 2003
Written by Stan Berkowitz
Directed by Butch Lukic
Guest Starring: William Atherton (John Dee/Dr. Destiny), Clancy Brown (Lex Luthor), Mark Hamill (Solomon Grundy/The Joker), Perl Gilpin (Volcana), Fairuza Balk (Penny), Dana Delaney (Lois Lane)
PLOT SUMMARY: Prisoner John Dee gets access to an ESP machine that allows him to infiltrate the dreams of others. Initially he uses this ability to seek vengeance against those he believes have wronged him, but then he turns it on the Justice League.
PRODUCTION NOTES: Intriguing to Stan Berkowitz was the idea of showing the origin of a villain. “It reminded me a lot of an episode of the old Batman series,” he says, “especially when you see a guy has nothing; there’s nothing about him that’s interesting, but he has ambitions, he’s set up for a crime where he was only a minor part of it, his wife leaves him and you see his motivation to take that chance with the experiment in the prison. Oh, and to toot my own horn a bit, there’s a song in the episode that Batman hums, I wrote the lyrics for it. I got this call from ACAP telling me I had to join them now. So suddenly I’m a composer. For someone who’s probably tone deaf, that’s a pretty big deal.”
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