The DC Universe Movies have long been the standard in sophisticated superhero animation, adapting classic comic book storylines or bringing original superhero tales to life for new and longtime fans alike. Yet, while the full-length movies tend to focus on the Justice League and its various members, some beloved characters from slightly deeper in DC’s bench are about to get the spotlight in new animated shorts.
The “DC Showcase” series of animated shorts first debuted back in 2010 as bonus content for the DC Universe Movies before seemingly being retired in 2011. However, rumors of its death were greatly exaggerated, it seems, as it’s returning this year with five brand new shorts: Sgt. Rock, Adam Strange, Death, The Phantom Stranger and Batman: Death in the Family. Produced by Warner Bros. Animation and Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, in partnership with DC, the new shorts will be included on upcoming DC Universe Movies releases, with exception of the Batman: Death in the Family short, which will be longer and anchor a compilation set for distribution in late 2020.
That’s pretty exciting news, but if you need a bit more to whet your appetite, each of the five shorts feature the involvement of stalwarts of DC animation, including Bruce Timm, Sam Liu, J.M. DeMatteis and more, and boast a strong stable of voice actors such as Karl Urban, Leonardo Nam, Charlie Weber, Peter Serafinowicz, Michael Rosenbaum and Gary Cole. They’ll also each open with a new live-action Warner Bros. and DC branding sequence that will hold hidden Easter eggs for observant fans.
But what are the shorts about?
Sgt. Rock is executive produced and directed by Bruce Timm (Batman: The Animated Series) from a script by award-winning comics writers Louise Simonson & Walter Simonson and Tim Sheridan (Reign of the Supermen). The original tale finds battle-weary Sgt. Rock thinking he has seen everything that World War II can dish out. But he is in for the surprise of his life when he is assigned to lead a company consisting of legendary monsters into battle against an unstoppable platoon of Nazi zombies. Karl Urban (Star Trek & Lord of the Rings film franchises) provides the voice of Sgt. Rock. Also voicing characters in Sgt. Rock are Keith Ferguson, William Salyers and Audrey Wasilewski.
Adam Strange is produced and directed by Butch Lukic (Batman Unlimited franchise), who also conceived the original story—which is written by J.M. DeMatteis (Constantine: City of Demons). On a rugged asteroid mining colony, few of the toiling workers are aware that their town drunk was ever anything but an interplanetary derelict. But when the miners open a fissure into the home of a horde of deadly alien insects, his true identity is exposed. He is space adventurer Adam Strange, whose heroic backstory is played out in flashbacks as he struggles to save the very people who have scorned him for so long. Charlie Weber (How To Get Away with Murder) provides the voice of Adam Strange, alongside with Roger R. Cross, Kimberly Brooks, Ray Chase and Fred Tatasciore.
Inspired by Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman, Death is produced and directed by Sam Liu (Justice League vs. The Fatal Five) and written by J.M. DeMatteis (Batman: Bad Blood). In the story, Vincent, an artist with unresolved inner demons, meets a mysterious girl who helps him come to terms with his creative legacy…and eventual death. Leonardo Nam (Westworld) provides the voice of Vincent, and Jamie Chung (The Gifted, Big Hero 6) is the voice of Death. The cast also includes Darin De Paul, Keith Szarabajka and Kari Wahlgren.
The Phantom Stranger also has Bruce Timm at the helm as executive producer and director, and is written by Ernie Altbacker (Teen Titans: The Judas Contract). Set in the 1970s, the short follows young adult Jess as she joins her friends at a party in a dilapidated mansion hosted by the mysterious Seth. When odd things begin to happen to Jess and her friends, the Phantom Stranger intervenes to save her from a dreary fate. Peter Serafinowicz (The Tick) gives voice to the Phantom Stranger, and Michael Rosenbaum (Smallville, Impastor) provides the voice of Seth. The Phantom Stranger also features the voices of Natalie Lander, Grey Griffin and Roger Craig Smith.
More information regarding Batman: Death In The Family will be available in 2020, presumably along with information on the compilation set it’ll be a part of.
The original DC Showcase series was comprised of four animated shorts produced by Bruce Timm and directed by Joaquim Dos Santos: The Spectre (released on 2/23/2010 with Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths), Jonah Hex (released with Batman: Under the Red Hood on 7/27/2010), Green Arrow (released on 9/28/2010 with Superman/Batman: Apocalypse) and Superman/Shazam: The Return of Black Adam (which anchored its own compilation release on 11/9/2010). An additional short, Catwoman (10/18/2011), was attached the following year to the release of Batman: Year One and was directed by Lauren Montgomery and executive produced by Bruce Timm. Screenwriters on the initial quintet were Steve Niles (The Spectre), Joe Lansdale (Jonah Hex), Greg Weisman (Green Arrow), Michael Jelenic (Superman/Shazam: The Return of Black Adam) and Paul Dini (Catwoman).
Actors featured on the first five shorts were Malcolm McDowell, James Garner (in his final performance), Jerry O’Connell, Linda Hamilton, Gary Cole, Alyssa Milano, Thomas Jane, Michael Rooker, Eliza Dushku, Neal McDonough, Ariel Winter, Danica McKeller, George Newbern, Michelle Trachtenberg and Arnold Vosloo.
In other words, the DC Showcase animated shorts boast all of the quality on screen and behind the scenes as the DC Universe Movies, just with a shorter running time. We’ll have to see which shorts will be attached to which movies, but there are two more DC Universe Movies slated for release this year—Batman: Hush and Wonder Woman: Bloodlines. It’s a fair guess that at least one, if not both of them, will include a short.
But now it’s your turn. Let us know what you think of this news! Are you excited to check these new shorts out? Which one are you most looking forward to? Let us know on Facebook and Twitter, and be sure to keep your eyes right here on DCComics.com for more news about these shorts and everything else DC as it breaks.