|Justice League Unlimited|
|Based on||Justice League|
|Directed by||Joaquim dos Santos|
|Theme music composer||Michael McCuistion|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||3|
|No. of episodes||39|
|Running time||21-23 minutes|
|Production companies||DC Comics (2005-2006)|
Warner Bros. Animation
|Distributor||Warner Bros. Television Distribution|
|Original network||Cartoon Network|
|Original release||July 31, 2004 -|
May 13, 2006
|Preceded by||Justice League|
Justice League Unlimited (JLU) is a 2004-2006 American superhero animated television series that was produced by Warner Bros. Animation and aired on Cartoon Network. Featuring a wide array of superheroes from the DC Comics universe, and specifically based on the Justice League superhero team, it is a direct sequel to the previous Justice League animated series and picks up where Justice League has left off. Like its predecessor, the show is also a prequel to Batman Beyond. JLU debuted on July 31, 2004, on Toonami and ended on May 13, 2006. It was also the final series set in the long-running DC animated universe, which started with Batman: The Animated Series in 1992.
Boomerang reran the series from June 3, 2007 to March 26, 2010, as part of Boomeraction. The series also aired as part of The CW's Vortexx Saturday morning block from August 25, 2012 to August 23, 2014.
According to animator Bruce Timm, the series finale of Justice League, "Starcrossed", was originally planned to be the final episode of the series; however, Cartoon Network ordered the production of a successor, entitled Justice League Unlimited. Taking place shortly after its predecessor ended, it features a greatly expanded League, in which the characters from the original series--now referred to as "founding members"--are joined by many other superheroes from the DC Universe; in the first episode, well over 50 characters appear. A number of these were heroes who had made guest appearances in Justice League, but many heroes and other characters made their first animated appearances in this series. The general format of each episode is to have a small team assemble to deal with a particular situation, with a focus on both action and character interaction. This extension of the Justice League was originally planned to be explained in a planned direct-to-video feature film, but the project never materialized.
Stan Berkowitz, a member of the production team, left the show later for the TV series Friends and Heroes, and writer Matt Wayne was contracted to replace him. Most episodes tell a self-contained story, but the series also features extended story arcs, the first involving the building conflict between the League and a secret government agency known as Project Cadmus. This plot line builds upon events that occurred during the second season of Justice League (which in turn built upon events in Batman: The Animated Series, Superman: The Animated Series, Batman Beyond, Static Shock, and The Zeta Project), and has affected the plotlines of most of its episodes. It was resolved in a four-part story at the end of the second season of Justice League Unlimited. The third and final season story arc focuses on the new Secret Society (which is based on the Legion of Doom of the Challenge of the Super Friends season of Super Friends) as the main villains, a loose-knit organization formed to combat the increased superhero coordination of the first season. However, the Secret Society was never referred to as the Legion of Doom, although it was originally planned to use the original name used by the Flash as his comical way to refer the Society, but the idea was rejected.
The series, along with the entire DC animated universe, was originally planned to end after the second-season finale "Epilogue", but a third season was greenlighted by Cartoon Network. The third season started in 2005 with the episode "I Am Legion" (which was written before the announcement of a third season) and ended in 2006 with the episode "Destroyer". According with Matt Wayne, if the show had been renewed for a fourth season, he would have liked to write more episodes focusing on Superman and Wonder Woman.
Towards the end of the series, certain characters became off-limits to the show, like Blue Beetle and Hugo Strange. Characters associated with Batman and those who appeared in Batman: The Animated Series (aside from Batman himself) were restricted due to the unrelated animated series The Batman and Christopher Nolan's live-action theatrical The Dark Knight Trilogy to avoid continuity confusion. Aquaman and related characters were unavailable due to the development of a pilot for a live-action series featuring the character as a young man (planned to be a spin-off of Smallville), which wasn't picked up at the end. Characters from DC's "mature readers" Vertigo imprint were also not allowed, like Swamp Thing and Phantom Stranger. No characters from the Teen Titans animated series appeared in JLU until after that show had been canceled (when Speedy appeared in the third-season episode "Patriot Act", which referenced the Seven Soldiers of Victory). The Joker, Batman's archenemy, was restricted to appear in the series, unlike its predecessor, like Riddler and Scarecrow, which were supposed to be members of the Secret Society as a nod to the original Legion of Doom.
To compensate for this, the producers focused some stories on previously overlooked DC Comics characters. These included characters like Deadman, Warlord, and an unnamed modern equivalent of The Seven Soldiers of Victory.
DC Comics created an ongoing monthly comic book series based on the TV series, as part of its Johnny DC line of "all ages" comics, which did not have the same restrictions regarding character appearances.
Justice League Unlimited, like the second season of Justice League, is animated in widescreen. The show also features new theme music and intro (nominated for an Emmy). The two-part series finale was aired in the UK on February 8 and 18, 2006, and in the United States on May 6 and 13, 2006.
Some romantic relationships develop as in Justice League. Some of these relationships are Question and the Huntress, Black Canary and Green Arrow, and the love-triangle between Green Lantern, Hawkgirl and Vixen (further compounded with the later addition of Hawkman). Additionally, the series continuously hints at a mutual attraction between Batman and Wonder Woman. However, Batman is reluctant to develop a full romantic relationship due to his duty as a superhero, Diana's immortality, and his belief that a relationship within a team will bring issues and disaster. He nonetheless has admitted that he and Wonder Woman may have something special.
Aside from the voice-cast, numerous DC comics super-heroes are shown as Justice League members (and it is implied that there are even more members not shown). Heroes seen, but not heard, are listed below.
From 2006 to 2007, Warner Home Video (via DC Entertainment and Warner Bros. Family Entertainment) released the entire series of Justice League Unlimited on DVD, and its presented in original broadcast presentation and story arc continuity order. It was also released on Blu-Ray.
|DVD/BD Name||Release Date||Ep #||Additional Information|
|Season One||October 24, 2006||26||4 DVDs. Featurette: And Justice for All: The Process of Revamping the Series with New Characters and a New Creative Direction, Themes of Justice: Choose Your Favorite JLU Musical Theme Audio Tracks, Creators' Commentary on "This Little Piggy" and 'The Return." Contains all episodes of Seasons One and Two from the original airing. Episode 21 - "Hunter's Moon (AKA Mystery in Space)" - is placed out of order between episodes 22 ("Question Authority") and episode 23 ("Flashpoint").|
|Season Two||March 20, 2007||13||2 DVDs. Actually Season Three from the original airing. Cadmus: Exposed: Mark Hamill and the Series Creative Personnel Discuss This Popular Series Story Arc, Justice League Chronicles: Series Writers, Producers and Directors Discuss Their Favorite Moments Among Final Season Episodes, Music-Only Audio Track for the Final Episode Destroyer.|
|Justice League: 3-Pack Fun||July 19, 2011||11||3 DVDs. Contains "For The Man Who Has Everything," "The Return," and "The Greatest Story Never Told," as well as the two-part Justice League stories "The Brave and the Bold" and "Injustice For All," and the Young Justice episodes "Independence Day," "Fireworks," "Welcome To Happy Harbor," and "Drop Zone."|
|The Complete Series||November 10, 2015||39||3 Blu-ray discs. Featurette: And Justice for All: The Process of Revamping the Series with New Characters and a New Creative Direction, Creators' Commentary on "This Little Piggy" and 'The Return," Cadmus: Exposed: Mark Hamill and the Series Creative Personnel Discuss This Popular Series Story Arc, Justice League Chronicles: Series Writers, Producers and Directors Discuss Their Favorite Moments Among Final Season Episodes. Episodes are shown in the correct order.|
Warner Home Video also released another DVD set titled Justice League: The Complete Series. It contained all 91 episodes of Justice League and Justice League Unlimited on a 15-disc set with the 15th disc containing a bonus documentary. This was later re-packaged and sold as a 10-disc set without the bonus documentary.
DC Comics published a series of 46-issue numbered comics based on the television series, between 2004 and 2008.