So with the prospects of a live-action Justice League failing to gain traction, why not ask the most trusted name at WB animation to remind the world why it worked in the first place? At the moment, DC's current roster of heroes exists notably separate from the ones seen on television, in syndication, and in feature-length animated films. That's a problem that has to be addressed sooner or later, and spotlighting 'The New 52' incarnation of the Justice League on a weekly basis could help build momentum and support for any live-action project.
Anyone who doubts non-canonical versions or alternate worlds confuse loyal fans need only look at the debates that spawn in any one of our articles concerning the League: Flash-fans who argue a comedic actor is needed for a live-action Wally West butt heads with those who believe Barry Allen, not West, will need to be introduced first, while Batman supporters continue to disagree as to whether Nolan's version was the best ever seen or if it bore little resemblance to the comic book version. In many cases, the boldest and most progressive moves DC makes go unnoticed by the demographics they're dealing with.
Simon Baz, the first Muslim, Arab-American Green Lantern ("Who..?")
Nowhere is this clearer than with characters like Aquaman and Wonder Woman - characters made central to the latest incarnation of the Justice League, but who continue to draw negativity from the masses. DC's Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns has worked tirelessly to re-imagine an Aquaman that is not only aware of society's view of him as a walking joke, but is infuriated by it. Any comic book enthusiast knows that a live-action version of the new Aquaman would be deadly and lethal in combat, but TV and movie audiences have no idea and simply scoff at the idea.
The essential problem is that if Warner Bros. and DC Comics don't want to have to cancel yet another Justice League movie before it begins, they'll need public excitement and interest on their side. As it stands, some of the most promising characters (from a comic standpoint) are still weighed down by past incarnations or confusion over concurrent versions of the character.
As much as we'd recommend WB simply adapt Lauren Montgomery's animated Wonder Woman movie into live-action and call it a day, that's a sizable investment for a heroine modern audiences haven't seen in the spotlight (not without embarrassing all involved, anyway). Yet the newest version of Diana established her as a strong, assertive, unromantic descendant of Greek gods - but again, what DC is trying to accomplish in the pages of comic books has no other medium through which to change public perception.
The way we see it: New Age, New 52, new animated series from Bruce Timm. Whether Timm is charged with injecting more of 'The New 52's style into the series being developed or not, the need for a more modern and updated take is obvious. Given his track record and talent that usually accompanies him, adapting comic storylines isn't needed for compelling action, but don't be surprised if Timm's new cast of heroes at least look more like their updated counterparts than their predecessors.
A new series targeting children (and comic book fans who recognize good stories when they see them) brings them in along with their parents, and helps Warner Bros. attract bigger audiences in the process. Of course, there's nothing that would prevent WB from creating an animated Justice League series for adults and younger viewers to run in The CW's primetime, but we'll place our money on the Saturday morning option. That being said, some recent story decisions made by DC's writers would attract attention from an older crowd...
As critically acclaimed or grounded as some of Warner Bros. superhero films may be, a single film every three or four years can't match the marketing of an ongoing television series - and that's where DC has always had the edge. Bruce Timm helped them claim animation supremacy over Marvel decades ago, so now that the fight is truly heating up (and turning in Marvel's favor), DC and WB will be missing an incredible opportunity by not making an aggressive move.
Bruce Timm stepping down as supervising producer for animated features certainly leads us to believe the studio knows what's needed, and hopefully the reasons we've given make it clear what Warner Bros. could be up to. For now it's speculation on our part, but if done right, a modern, intelligent and widely-appealing animated Justice League series is good news for any fan of cartoon, comics, and blockbuster films.
What would you most like to see from a brand new Bruce Timm series? More of the same, or something completely groundbreaking? If Timm is at work on a Justice League animated series for a new generation, which heroes do you hope to see make the cut? Share your thoughts in the comments.
Follow Andrew on Twitter @andrew_dyce.