Comic-Con Cartoon Report: ‘Dark Knight Returns’, ‘Ultimate Spider-Man’ & More

Published 4 years ago by , Updated March 3rd, 2014 at 7:06 am,

green lantern the animated series clips Comic Con Cartoon Report: Dark Knight Returns, Ultimate Spider Man & More

What with all the massive movie, television, and comic book announcements at Comic-Con 2011, it was easy to overlook some of the animated superhero announcements, both in film and television.

DC, as per usual, had a pretty large showing with Green Lantern: The Animated Series video clips and announcements about their 2012-2013 schedule – including the animated adaptations of The Dark Knight Returns, Justice League: Doom, and The Killing Joke.

But Marvel’s slate, which included footage of Ultimate Spider-Man, was nothing to scoff at, either.


The Dark Knight Returns, Justice League: Doom, The Killing Joke, & More

dark knight returns animated movie announced Comic Con Cartoon Report: Dark Knight Returns, Ultimate Spider Man & More

As was reported back in April, DC announced that The Dark Knight Returns – one of the seminal superhero comic books of the 1980s – will be made into a two-part animated movie (via Bleeding Cool). At Comic-Con, it was implied by the Warner Animation panelists that Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill – both famous for portraying Batman and The Joker in Batman: The Animated Series, respectively – were being sought for those very roles in DKR.

Previously, Mark Hamill said he was retiring from voicing The Joker after Batman: Arkham City, but one imagines that a pile of money could change that tune right quick.

Warner Animation also announced Justice League: Doom, an adaptation of Mark Waid’s JLA: Tower of Babel, for 2012. For those unaware, “Tower of Babel” is the tale of Ra’s al Ghul stealing Batman’s contingency plans for taking down each individual member of the Justice League. (SLIGHT SPOILERS AHEAD!).

It’s probably no coincidence that Doom is coming out around the same time as The Dark Knight Rises, which will also deal (to some degree) with Ra’s and his League of Shadows.

The third announcement was for Superman VS. The Elite, an adaptation of Joe Kelly’s “What’s So Funny About Truth, Justice and the American Way?” which itself was a response to the widely-loved comic book The Authority by Warren Ellis and Bryan Hitch.

the killing joke animated adaptation Comic Con Cartoon Report: Dark Knight Returns, Ultimate Spider Man & More

There was merely a mention of a possible future adaptation of Alan Moore’s classic The Killing Joke, which would be, without question, the most adult animated adaptation DC has produced so far — that is, if it’s faithful to the source material.

Lastly, while Mark Waid and painter Alex Ross’ famous vision of the near-future DC Universe, Kingdom Come, was mentioned as well, apparently it was deemed too difficult for hand-drawn animation. If that’s an indication that they might move forward with a CG-animated Kingdom Come, they’re going to have a lot of angry fans on their hands.


Green Lantern: The Animated Series

First, the Green Lantern clips, courtesy of Comics Continuum [via Comics Alliance]:

Obviously, the animation looks like a cross between Bruce Timm’s patented superhero style (based on the Superman serial of yore), the CG-animated Star Wars: The Clone Wars, and the ’90s CGI cartoon, ReBoot.

ReBoot gets a shout-out because, while the actual animation of Green Lantern looks okay, the models therein look totally uninteresting, like early 90s CG animation. Is there a particular reason that every character model lacks textures? Are they short on money here? Short on time? Or have they just not implemented them yet?

Otherwise, the clips look pretty entertaining. Hal Jordan looks tougher, funnier, and more interesting than the version portrayed by Ryan Reynolds. Indeed, the buddy cop dynamic of the clips – between Hal and Kilowog – is something that was woefully missing from the film.

There’s no set date for Green Lantern‘s premiere, but you can probably expect a preview near the end of 2011 with the official release in 2012.


Ultimate Spider-Man, Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H., & Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes

At the Marvel Television panel at Comic-Con, Executive Vice President Jeph Loeb presented footage from the Ultimate Spider-Man animated series – written by the Man of Action team (Ben 10) and Paul Dini (Batman: The Animated Series) with assistance from Brian Michael Bendis — which will air on Disney XD next year.

ultimate spider man animated series details Comic Con Cartoon Report: Dark Knight Returns, Ultimate Spider Man & More

Here’s a breakdown of what you can expect from the show (via You Bent My Wookie):

  • Drake Bell (from Drake & Josh) will voice Peter Parker
  • S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Coulson — played by Clark Gregg from Iron Man 1 and 2, Thor, and The Avengers — will go undercover at Peter Parker’s school as his principal
  • Peter Parker’s mentor will be Nick Fury (played by Chi McBride) from the Marvel movies
  • Stan Lee will play Peter’s high school janitor
  • Stephen Webber (Wings) will play Norman Osborn
  • J. Jonah Jameson will be voiced by J. K. Simmons, who played Jameson in Raimi’s films
  • Guest stars will include Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, and the Hulk
  • Peter Parker will occasionally talk directly to the camera in cutaways, mockumentary-style, a la The Office and Modern Family (???)
  • Peter will magically be transformed into Spider-Ham for an episode
  • Besides Osborn, villains will include Elektro, Venom, and Doctor Doom
  • The look of the show was inspired by Stuart Immonen, Humberto Ramos, Ed McGuinness, and Joe Quesada
  • The show will be incredibly “jokey,” more so than the Ultimate Spider-Man comic series

Two things of note here:

  1. This version of Spider-Man is obviously in the same continuity as the Marvel Films (Iron Man, Thor, Captain America: The First Avenger, and The Avengers).
  2. It’ll be interesting to see Bruce Timm and Paul Dini go head-to-head creatively, as they were both heavily involved with the success that was Batman: The Animated Series.

Marvel Animation is also hard at work bringing Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H. to Disney XD, as well as a second season of Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes (the season premiere of which features a team-up between the Avengers and the Fantastic Four).


So which animated work sounds the most interesting to you? Green Lantern: The Animated Series, The Dark Knight Returns, Justice League: Doom, Superman VS. The Elite, or Ultimate Spider-Man? Drop us a line in the comments.

Sources: Bleeding Cool, Comics Continuum [via Comics Alliance], You Bent My Wookie

Follow me on Twitter @benandrewmoore.

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  1. F*** XD

    Hey DIsney … put on a channel that every gets you freakin’ idiots!

    • ao pay the 5 bucks and order it cheapskate. Or watch free on motionempire or putlocker!

  2. Not a fan of the new animation style they are using for Green Lantern. It looks unfinished and bare. More like a cheap version of the clone wars animation.

  3. I like what I hear so far from Ultimate Spider-Man. Breaking the 4th wall shouldn´t be a problem, since he kinda does it in the comics too. When can we expect a proper trailer? I´ve only seen the crappy quality bootleg…

    • It’s also kind of like Zack Morris in Saved by the Bell. He was always breaking the fourth wall as well.

      • In this case, since it’s in cutaways as opposed to stopping time and breaking the fourth wall, it sounds more like The Office. But if it’s like Saved by the Bell, then it’s actually like Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, which Saved by the Bell ripped off.

        • I´ve read the Deadpool script a few weeks ago, and the 4th wall breaking in that is hilarious.
          And since (Ultimate) Spider-Man talks to the reader in the yellow text boxes, it´s a proper adaption. And I like the idea of Coulson getting introduced into the comic books. I don´t buy comic books anymore, but I´d have no problem if Coulson became a regular comic book character. They did it with Firestar in the 80s, so why not with the coolest (and also funniest) SHIELD agent ever?

          • There’s a huge difference between narration boxes — which are just narration — and talking to the camera a la The Office.

  4. Umm . . . . . pretty sure “what’s so funny about truth, justice and the american way was written by Joe Kelly . . . . not Joe Casey

    • Ummmmmmmm — you’re right. They’re both on Man of Action, so I had Joe Casey on the brain. Thanks for the reminder.

  5. Greatest news in this entire article? J.K. Simmons voicing J.J. BOO YAH!

    • agreed… Isnt that a picture of nemisis? or is that just me?

  6. DC soulhd have released the Green Lantern animated series before the movie. The animated seires looks too plain.

  7. I really dislike Bruce Timm style animation. It was okay when they did it with Batman about 17 years ago, but now, I just can’t stand the sight of it. It seems an excuse to make everything super simple to cut time and save money. Either that or they just run with something for far too long and it becomes off-putting.

    In my opinion anyway. I know people will dislike me saying it.

    • Totally agree, can’t stand the big chin, big chest superhero look. That’s not even close to what GL should look like. And yes, the CG looks awful. So glad they’re screwing up GL first so they can hopefully do Flash right.

      • I disagree. I loved Bruce Timm’s big chin and big chest superhero look. I wish they would have kept that in the animated movies. Now those characters look like a bunch of wimps. I just saw Justice league Doom and it sucked compared to JLA Tower of Babel. What the hell were thinking when they used these villians! Vandal Savage instead of Lex Luthor? Darkseid should have fired the bullet instead of some joe. And Bane just kicks batman once and buries him alive instead of a 10 min fight action! It reallly sucked. Buy the book JLA Tower of Babel… Way better. Why can’t DC just use the fricken source material! I hope they don’t adapt TDKR or Killing Joke. Just tell the damn stories like they were told in the comics for christs sake.

    • “I know people will dislike me saying it.”

      Yeah I guess I’m one of those guys. I still think the classic DCAU looks amazing visually and still holds up really well against modern offerings.

      I WILL agree that GL looks like nothing to write home about. I really feel like the visual splendor, associated with the DCAU isn’t there at all. I don’t think Timm’s artstyle works in 3D. Much like Genndy and Clone Wars.

      Looking forward to more Avengers and Ultimate Spider-man.

      • “Yeah I guess I’m one of those guys.”

        I flippin’ knew it!

        I still find the style flat and boring though.

        Now you can really hate me. ^-^

      • I personally like the Timm style, but I don’t think it translates well to CG. I’m hoping it’s just unfinished though, and they’ll make it better.

  8. The only news in this article that doesn’t really have me excited as a comic book fan is the “Superman vs. The Elite” because I didn’t like the story in the comics, and I’m just as enthused by an animated movie (not at all, for those who don’t get my meaning.)

    And I don’t like the look of the Green lantern Animated series. Timm should have used the traditional animation style, like he used in every other series he did. GL’s constructs looked awesome in Justice League, and it would look just as good for this cartoon as well.

    Not too fond of the Spider-ham thing in Ultimate Spider-man, but everything else sounds awesome. Especially the news that “Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes” is returning for another season.

    • And don´t forget the FF crossover. In one Avengers episode, they were talkting about Reed Richards and you could see a picture of the FF on a wall in the background. And now we get to see them in action.

    • was the first avengers season any good? 90′s Spiderman was the best. Had the best stories and tons of action!

    • The GL cgi looks like crap compared to BTAS and JL unlimited.

  9. “The actual animation of Green Lantern looks okay, the models therein look totally uninteresting, like early 90s CG animation.”


  10. Link of the video is broken :S

  11. Green Lantern looks stupid they should stick with what they did with first flight, Ultimate Spiderman sounds good cant wait for the serious Batman stuff

    • First Flight was done very well and they should have built upon that into making a new tv series yet instead we get old CG animation. I honestly just give up now. Done.

      R.I.P. Green Lanturn.

  12. Avengers: EMH Season 2! With Dr. Doom! And the FF! And MORE! :) :)
    *Uggghmm*… sorry about that… geeked out for a second there…

    Ultimate Spider-Man also sounds pretty good, although I don’t know why you guys (screenrant) are saying that it will be part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe… to my knowledge, Marvel never announced that.

    I’m not too interested in the new Batman stuff… to me, the original series was by far the best. It had like 200+ episodes which were ALL terrific. Ever since that series, any other Batman show felt underwhelming.

    Can’t wait for all this stuff to air on TV…

  13. I LOVE Bruce’s style, it just doesn’t translate well to CGI. I will say this much, the animation isn’t fantastic, BUT the show looks like FUN, and fun is a big deal when it comes to a show like this. That’s, in my opinion, i was the green lantern film was lacking.

  14. “Green Lantern: The Animated Series” looks like a low budget version of “The Incredibles”.

    • Green Lantern versus Mr. Incredible

  15. Hmm, i’m a big fan of Bruce Timm stuff, and this just looks like a cgi version of his JLU animation style. As long as it’s written well (which so far looks good to me), I’m fine with it. Plus it might mean more JLU style Green Lantern toys, which I’m definitely a fan of.

  16. Wow, they are destroying GL. The Red Lanterns having a crisis of conscience? What? They’re supposed to be infected with rage all “28 Days Later” style.

    GL was the best superhero comic I’ve read in the mid to late 00′s. Sad to see this happen.

    • Oh and “Reboot” is a perfect call. This animation is more like abomination.

      • Well, maybe the animation is so poor to make the live action movie look better.

  17. I’m definitely in the minority here, but I enjoyed both the Timm-style animation AND its cgi incarnation in the GL trailer. Along with writing and the hints at storylines, this looks to be a great upcoming series. I am extremely excited about seeing what they are going to with the “Tower of Babel” story in “Justice League: Doom”…excited and hopeful.

    The “Ultimate Spider-man” sounds interesting, but you worried me with that note about how it will be EVEN funnier than the comic…I hope it doesn’t descend into campiness (if Paul Dini is working on it, that gives me a bit more confidence that it will not be).

  18. ReBoot gets a shout-out because, while the actual animation of Green Lantern looks okay, the models therein look totally uninteresting, like early 90s CG animation. Is there a particular reason that every character model lacks textures? Are they short on money here? Short on time? Or have they just not implemented them yet?

    An interesting observation Ben because that was EXACTLY what I was thinking when I was watching it. The show almost feels like a stage two refinement pass before they ADD the extra texturing and details. Considering it’s 100% CGI, they are already 90% of the way there so would it have killed them to go that extra 10% and drop in some minimal textures and detail?

    I also found it funny that even such simplistic models can manage to accurately capture Kilowog’s look (and a CORRECT voice match to boot!) while a 200 million dollar film version cannot. (I never said I loved Green Lantern and Kilowog was one of the “fail” things for me personally)

    And if you Marvel people responsible for Avengers:EMH are reading this……SUPERB JOB. You have managed to put this show on par with Justice League Unlimited which in my book is a feat. I always felt The Avengers was the #2 supergroup behind The JL but you have changed my mind.

    My only hope is that you can keep up this level of excellence and have the series go for more than just 2 seasons. I guess hoping for the longevity of The Simpsons is too much so something in between? :)

    • “Considering it’s 100% CGI, they are already 90% of the way there so would it have killed them to go that extra 10% and drop in some minimal textures and detail?”

      Yes, that extra ten percent is the toughest, I think. It’s like going from a D to a C to B, to an A. Each step takes more work. Or like a sprinter who has to add a fraction of a second in order to get a gold instead of a bronze.

      I think your assessment is spot on, but in my opinion they concentrated on the right stuff. Adding texture is a whole other element and it would really trash up what they have to start adding it without care. Just my opinion.

      • Actually it’s not. I have done some CG work personally and once you have the background, models skinned and boned, animated, colored, shaded and lit, textures (especially simple ones) are really almost a finishing touch. The other thing you have to remember is, unlike individual cell animation, once something is created, it never has to be redrawn. This can make potentially whole episodes completely animation driven. Seems to me the artists would have the time to do some texturing and detailing (hence the reason why I said it looked like stage 2 in the process).

        (I try not to comment on things (and exact percentages) unless I know what I’m talking about ;) )

        • I haven’t done any CGI, but I have seen enough of it. Too often there is clunky bad animation with lots of color and texture. The effect is that attention is drawn randomly to that color and texture. It appears like in this case they concentrated on the overall movement and composition. I think the color looks nice too. When I look at this, my initial reaction is to appreciate that they didn’t rush to give it a “finished” look, but put effort into the “skeleton”. To say it’s easy to add texture is a bit like saying that it’s easy to put paint on a brush and apply it to a canvas. It is very easy to do so, but “results may vary.”

          Anyway, even though I don’t know anything about CGI and can only judge subjectively, I thought this looked almost like a late-stage Pixar production (which is saying a lot). I think it looks great as is, but I agree that since it’s saved on a computer, they can alter it down the line.

  19. Green Lantern looks awesome. Money well spent in my opinion. looks like they put their energy into design, motion, composition, and color. I don’t even think the lack of texture makes it look unfinished. They concentrated on what’s important with what was probably a limited budget. I’m very impressed. The thing I like about Bruce Timm’s style is that the whole cartoon has an integrated look. The characters and backgrounds always fit together. Again, I think this looks great.

  20. Please PLEASE!!! Crossing my fingers for Mark Hamill to accept the biggest bag of dough they will offer him and voice Joker yet again!

  21. The Spider-Man show sounds AWESOME. Drake Bell should make a good Spidey (even if it is just his voice) and Stan Lee playing a school janitor? That’s the coolest thing ever!! I’m definitely going to be watching that one.

  22. I’m pretty excited about the DC Animated movies that are to be released. Mainly because they’ve been so flippin’ awesome. I didn’t really like The Dark Knight Returns comic book, but I didn’t hate either. I think the animated movie will be awesome.

    Even though I truly wrap my head around Batman beating the crap out of Superman.

  23. Um , just because Coulson`s in the series doesn`t make it part of the MARVEL Cinematic Universe . Brian Michael Bendis( writer of the ” Ultimate Spider-Man ” comics ) stated he`s helping script the series with Paul Dini , Jeph Loeb and the ” Man of Action ” crew and the series will mix material from his comics with original material . While there may be some elements of the Films and 616 Comics , the tone and storyarcs will be firmly rooted in the early Ultimate Universe . Also , Ultimate Nick Fury is portrayed quite differently from the MARVEL Cinematic Universe . While Sam Jackson seems to be playing the more casual , cool-headed Ultimate Nick Fury of ” The Ultimates ” in The Films , the series clearly has Chi McBride portraying the more rigid , authoritarian Ultimate Nick of the ” Ultimate Spider-Man ” and ” Ultimate X-Men ” comics .

  24. you spelled electro wrong and spiderman is spose to be jokey get your facts straight