Superhero cartoon shows come and go, and once in a while, they go too soon. That’s what happened with the brilliant Cartoon Network show Young Justice. The animated teen team drama took the traditional sidekicks for the characters from DC’s core pantheon – Batman, Superman, Aquaman, etc. – and jammed them all into a single series.
Of course, this sort of thing had been done before in the comics with Teen Titans (and is now being done in live-action TV with Titans). Young Justice did all that while featuring excellent storytelling, plots, and character development. That sort of perfect gelling of filmmaking elements is a rarity in the animated series world. So fans could not be happier with the return of the continuity now that Young Justice: Outsiders is finally available on DC's new streaming service, DC Universe. The follow-up series picks up a couple years after Young Justice's original finale.
While the return of the show is warmly welcomed, the original Young Justice was not without its flaws. In fact, there were a whole lot of things about it that simply did not add up. Certain conflicts, behaviors, story choices, and even production drama left many fans scratching their heads. Look – there’s no such thing as a perfect TV show-- and that’s fine. Let us lovingly look at some of the most glaring inconsistencies in Young Justice's run.
Here are 20 Things That Make No Sense About Young Justice.
20 They Seem to Be Tougher Than the Justice League
While the Young Justice team faces off with many foes, the one overarching enemy they deal with throughout the series is “The Light” – a group of incredibly powerful supervillains who have an almost unstoppable plan to take over the world. These are not second stringers. We’re talking about heavy hitters like Vandal Savage, Queen Bee, Lex Luthor, and Ra’s al Ghul.
This should be the Justice League’s fight, right? After all, they’re the A-Team when it comes to protecting the earth. Instead, it’s the sidekicks who win the day at the end of season two. Sure, they got help from the JL, but they led the charge and proved themselves.
19 Superman’s Relationship with Conner
When is Superman not so Super? When he can’t handle a little thing like facing a youthful cloned version of himself. In Young Justice, Superboy is Conner Kent, the human-Kryptonian hybrid who owes half of his DNA to Kal-El, otherwise known as Clark Kent – or Superman.
The evil project Cadmus secreted away a genetic sample of Metropolis’ favorite hero in order to create this unique metahuman. Rescued from the lab that bred him, Connor becomes a hero in his own right, but Superman just can’t face him. Rather than accept him into his life, he avoids a young man who is effectively his own son. For a guy who’s dealt with a lot of crazy stuff, Supes' inability to treat the product of his own genes is kind of a bummer.
18 Miss Martian’s Body Insecurity
One of the most confusing side stories in Young Justice is a struggle that Miss Martian experiences. Determined to be accepted by her humanoid counterparts, she borrows an entire persona from a TV show called Hello Megan! Her big concern is one many young people can relate to: she’s worried that her body looks weird. As a shape-shifting Martian, she’s not just concerned with her weight or hairstyle. Her natural form is totally alien, kind of like a mix of lizard and insect, so she’s afraid to show it to the group and maintains a “normal” human form.
The thing is – these are metahumans! They’re totally accustomed to extraterrestrials, demons, and all sorts of weird stuff. Would they really be that thrown by Miss Martian's true appearance?
17 They Went from Small Team to Free-for-All
In the first season of Young Justice, we got a nice, tight group of teen superheroes coming into their own. Robin, Miss Martian, Aqualad, Kid Flash, Superboy, and Artemis were fleshed out nicely and the audience got to feel out their character development nicely.
Once we got to season two – aka “Invasion” – the flood gates of superhero sidekicks broke wide open. Loads of new members were added to the roster, from top-tier heroines like Wonder Girl and Batgirl to the lesser-known heroes like Lagoon Boy and Bumblebee. Suddenly we went from following core protagonists to chasing a hodgepodge of metahumans who poped up left and right. While it was fun to get to see all of them in action, it was disorienting.
16 If Impulse Saved the Future, He Shouldn’t Exist
Yes, it’s time once again to ask the age-old question: just what happens if a time traveler travels to the past and effectively changes the future? That’s exactly what Impulse arrives to do.
Another speedster in the image of Flash and Kid Flash, the hyperactive wise-cracker comes from a future so bleak, he’s determined to prevent it from happening. He apparently succeeds, which in turn, should mean that he himself never exists. Confusing, isn’t it? It’s a common problem in superhero mythology, which in turn becomes a challenge in physics. Do alternate timelines exist? Or has everything that will happen already happened?
15 The Justice League Are Bad Mentors
The whole idea of Young Justice is that the Justice League has taken to mentoring a bunch of youngster superheroes to become the best that they can be. We do get to see a lot of those elder statesmen and women showing up to lend a helping hand. However, they're not the most supportive mentors.
Superman won’t even look at Superboy, Batman constantly scolds Robin, J’onn J’onzz is regularly impatient with M’Gann – it’s the worst king of tough love you can imagine. Meanwhile, Green Arrow is too much of a helicopter parent, and Red Tornado is left behind to babysit the group like they were toddlers. The one exception? Black Canary. She’s the only “good cop” in the bunch. The rest need to learn some empathy.
14 Nobody Should Trust Artemis That Much
The members of Young Justice share a specific goal: to do good in the world. However, one of their core members was part of one of the most wicked crime families in the world. Oh – and that person was placed into their group as a mole to infiltrate and destroy their efforts from within. That member is Artemis.
As the daughter of the Sports Master and sister to the assassin known as Cheshire, she was groomed to be a spy in the house of Young Justice. She is eventually exposed, but is very quickly forgiven and accepted with full trust by Robin and the rest. It’s a nice Hollywood ending moment, but not very realistic coming from what is essentially a squadron of super soldiers.
13 Basically, They Are Superhero Child Labor
Today, kids are not allowed to work instead of going to school, and they certainly cannot perform hazardous functions. Additionally, if an underage worker is to be allowed to do anything at all, it must be under the authorization of a parent or guardian and during very limited hours. Young Justice meets exactly none of these criteria.
Sure, in the Golden Age of comics, people didn’t think about little things like workplace protections and the morality of exploiting the youth-- that’s when sidekicks flourished. These days, it just looks like very bad policy for superheroes, of all people, to use child labor in the form of their teenage sidekicks.
12 Black Manta Was Fooled Way Too Easily
Like Artemis, Aqualad was accepted a little too quickly by The Light. Though he was son of Black Manta, Kaldur’ahm had long since rejected his father’s wicked ways. Choosing the side of good, Aqualad proved from a very young age that he was dedicating his life to fighting evil. When the Young Justice team got the bright idea of using an insider to infiltrate the toughest cabal of supervillains in the world, getting Kaldur to play on his daddy’s emotions might seem logical.
However, Black Manta is ruthless, as is Vandal Savage and the rest of The Light. How could they not see the obvious? How could they let the heroes pull the wool over their eyes so easily? While we never got to see that process due to the time gap between seasons, it’s kind of hard to believe this deception would have worked.
11 Cadmus Is Way Too Powerful
In the world of comic books and in the films and TV shows that come from it, there are a whole lot of secret organizations which are just too crazy to exist. Cadmus in Young Justice is just way off the charts. This is a super-scientist lab is built right under Washington, D.C., and it’s gone way beyond rogue. Apparently with no meaningful oversight by the government, it pretty much uses its genetic labs to create races of monsters, all controlled and protected by a private army using advanced tech.
At least in the Justice League Unlimited animated series, Cadmus was seen spiraling out of control and came into conflict with Amanda Waller, its government overseer. In Young Justice, Cadmus just seems to go way too far with no meaningful check outside of direct attack by superheroes.
10 Five-Year Time Jump Between Season 1 and 2
While season one of Young Justice was an instant hit with superhero fans, season two threw viewers for a loop. Despite appearing only months after the last episode of season one, season two opens an astounding five years after the events audiences last saw.
Many things had changed. The “kids” were now young adults. and younger kids were the new Young Justice (sort of). Relationships had changed, allegiances had shifted, and oh yes – the world was in the middle of a secret alien invasion. It was a shift that gave many viewers continuity whiplash. It was all good when the story got going, but it was an odd choice for the series to leapfrog over five years of story development and character exploration so quickly.
9 Unstoppable Foes Are Way Too Stoppable
Supervillain groups have come and gone, but The Light is one of the most impressive collection of top-tier rogues ever assembled. This isn’t just a bunch of metahumans with ridiculous powers. These are the alphas of evil; Planners, thinkers, leaders – truly an assembly of kings and queens. They are the combined brilliance and cunning of the likes of Vandal Savage, Lex Luthor, Queen Bee, R'as al Ghul – and don’t forget – Darkseid is their sponsor.
For most of the series, they totally outplayed Young Justice. Yes, they had their big plan, and a lot of it worked, but the kids seemed to beat up the adults a little too quickly in the end.
8 Darkseid Could Have Beaten Them Easily
As a combination of the cream of the DC supervillains crop, the Light should be enough to take out the Young Justice team’s inexperience and lesser powers. As we already know, the Light were nonetheless defeated in the end. But what about the secret leader of this nefarious group?
It’s only in the final episode of season two that we see the man behind the curtain – Darkseid, ruler of Apokolips. Arguably the single most powerful foe in the DC universe, surely he could have stepped in and dispatched the kids any time he wanted to? Sure, he’ll laugh self-assuredly and say it’s all part of the plan, but it doesn't add up. Including this villain in the story without having him jump in when things go south seems like a cop-out.
7 The Original Characters Are No Longer "Young"
When considering the five-year gap between season one and season two of Young Justice, there’s a kind of ageist elephant looming in the room, and it’s probably already past puberty. In season one, it’s reasonable to guess that the team’s members were anywhere from about thirteen to sixteen years old, but in season two, that means they are anywhere from eighteen to twenty-one years old. Not so young anymore!
Shouldn’t they be in the proper Justice League by now? After all, they’re old enough to vote, work (legally this time), and even serve in the armed forces. Not to mention, a whole bunch of younger kids are brought in to bolster their numbers. The original Robin, “Kid” Flash, Artemis, and the rest are even older in Young Justice: Outsiders. At this rate, they’ll need to be in Geriatric Justice!
6 Red Tornado Is the Worst Babysitter Possible
At the very outset of the Young Justice television series, the Justice League are so contemptuous of their underlings that it's decided they will be overseen by Red Tornado, a soulless superpowered android. Essentially, he’s their super-babysitter. While his impeccable logic may help make the best tactical decisions about the missions they take, these are children we’re talking about! They need more than practical lessons; they need love, encouragement, and nurturing.
No offense to Red Tornado, but his tin-plated brain isn’t necessarily the best candidate for those functions. Why not just leave them with their tablets and cell phones? They can figure out their own missions just using the internet-- which they often do, anyway.
5 the Justice League Walk Free After the Rimbor Trial
One of the major subplots in Young Justice involves the disappearance of core members of the Justice League, including Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman. Where did they go? Apparently, their minds were taken over by bad guys and they were compelled to cause massive destruction on a faraway planet. It was so bad that countless aliens lost their lives.
When evidence of what they did was uncovered, they faced trial on the planet Rimbor. They were were found guilty, and even new evidence did not sway the tribunal. Then M’gann and Conner’s little speech about how it would be a good thing if the Justice League was acquitted somehow changed their minds. This 11th hour plea seems very unlikely to cause such an abrupt switch of verdict.
4 Why Is Dr. Fate’s Enslavement of Zatara Tolerated?
Dr. Fate is a truly unique character within the halls of the Justice League. He is the Lord of Order known as Nabu, hailing from an ethereal pantheon of demigods dedicated to maintaining the balance of things in the universe against the powers of chaos. The only way Dr. Fate can manifest himself as an effective agent in our earthly realm is by possessing the body of a human being. This happens when anybody dons Fate’s helmet.
In Young Justice, the child sorceress Zatanna puts the helmet on in a desperate moment to battle back some bad guys. Once the fight is over, Fate refuses to release Zatanna – until her dad Zatara sacrifices his freedom to host the Lord of Order. Basically, it’s domination by blackmail and the Justice League does nothing about it.
3 Wally West’s Suspicious Disappearance
Did Kid Flash make the ultimate sacrifice? It sure seemed to be the case at the end of season two of Young Justice. The invading alien force known as The Reach activates a weapon that will mean the end of the world as we know it. The only way to stop it is if the Earth’s top speedsters – Flash, Kid Flash, and Impulse – run fast enough to create a counteracting vortex around it. The plan works, but Wally West can’t slow down at the end and literally disappears out of existence and into the Speed Force.
That’s the end of the young speedster, right? Not so fast! More than an elemental force, the Speed Force is an alternate realm, so don’t be surprised if we see Wally make an “unexpected” return in Young Justice: Outsiders.
2 It’s Really a Mashup of Teen Titans and Young Justice
Way back in the Silver Age of comics, Teen Titans came into being as the original superhero team made up of sidekicks. Later, in the '80s, the New Teen Titans arrived on the scene, adding brand new young heroes who weren’t sidekicks at all – like Cyborg and Raven. In the early 2000s, the Young Justice comic turned this idea on its head once more with a different sort of revamp.
Once the Young Justice animated series hit, it pretty much became a mashup of all those that had come before-- and much more. It might have made more sense to simply assemble the team and give the show its own brand new name to avoid confusion, but too late now!
1 It was Canceled
Reality has a way of being even stranger than fiction. The first two seasons of Young Justice were fan favorites, garnering decent ratings. When it was announced that the series was canceled, audiences were bowled over. Why in the world would such a well-received show get the axe so callously? The answer is pretty strange.
The original Young Justice series was funded by a deal made with Mattel toys, tying merchandise based on the show with support for the production. When not enough of those toys sold, Mattel was out and Warner Bros. decided it was easier to cancel the popular show rather than figure out another way to find a budget. It just goes to show that poorly constructed business models can be more destructive than even the most powerful supervillains! Thankfully Young Justice found new life on DC Universe with Outsiders.
What else doesn't make sense about Young Justice? Let us know in the comments!