‘Young Justice: Phantoms’ Fashions a New Take on Teen Heroes

The DC Universe has produced numerous hero shows focused on teens and young adults, from Teen Titans To Legion of superheroes. But the winner of an Emmy Award Young justice, now in its fourth season and currently airing on HBO Max, has always found a place to belong – and shine – in a long line of blockbuster series.

“We decided it was going to be a teenage show first, a spy show second, and then a superhero show of sorts a distant third,” said Greg Weisman, executive producer and showrunner. with Brandon Vietti on the series. “Instead of making them about five characters in a tower, not knowing where they came from or who their family was, we really got into their stories. It’s a spy show, so we were like, “What if we talk about secrets and lies? What if this is a show that encompasses the entire DC Universe, but only from the perspective of these young heroes? “

And it became the spectacle of Weisman and Vietti. Set in an alternate DC universe known as Earth-16, Young justice follows the lives of teenage superheroes and sidekicks – such as Robin, Kid Flash, Aqualad, Superboy, Red Arrow, Miss Martian, Artemis and others – who are part of a covert ops group attached to the notorious Justice League. In this world, superheroes are a recent phenomenon, and villains have started to conspire on behalf of a group of key villains known as The Light.

The new season, Young Justice: Ghosts, who proceeds Young justice: foreigners, began airing episodes in October with one episode per week every Thursday until December 30. The series is produced by DC Comics and Warner Bros. Animation.

“We’ve tried very hard every season to give every season its own unique voice,” says Vietti. “Greg and I both love shows that reinvent themselves while respecting everything that came before, so that you still have the show you love but with a slightly different flavor than the season before.”

He continues, “There’s an evolution happening through the series that echoes exactly what we’re trying to do with the evolution of our characters. With our fourth season, I think the most important thing fans will notice, and have started to notice, is that we are creating arcs with our stories. And we’re giving our Season 1 main characters their own space to tell a bigger, more contained story in little arcs as the season goes on. And it allowed us to try different things with a story structure that we’ve never done before. I cannot reveal all of these things. But as the structure continues to unfold throughout the season, I think fans will start to see what we’re doing and hopefully be entertained. “

Since its creation in 2010, Young justice has made waves in superhero circles for its originality and mature storylines. It’s hard to believe Weisman and Vietti – both have ample experience on superhero shows such as The batman and Spider-Man the Animated Series – were very opposed to the idea of ​​the show at the beginning.

“In 2009, Brandon and I were partnered by our boss Sam Register [President of Warner Bros. Animation] develop a show that didn’t work, then another show that didn’t air, then Sam suggested Young justice, and our immediate reaction was “No,” Weisman explains. “At the time, Teen Titans and Unlimited Justice League had just ended and were on everyone’s mind. And they were great shows, very different from each other and seemed to cover this territory between them. And we were like, “What would we do to make it different?” “

It was Vietti’s idea to make the series a spy show rather than a superhero series. According to Weisman, it got the ball rolling and marked the start of a groundbreaking show in DC’s television arsenal.

“As always, the best idea comes from Brandon,” says Weisman. I really felt like all of a sudden we had our own space, or could create our own space and have a new take on it all.

While the spy angle certainly got production off the ground, both showrunners say it was their team’s commitment to add “heightened realism” that had never been seen before in a super series. hero who gave Young justice his notoriety.

“Greg, Phil and I sat down at the start and together tried to come up with different textures that would add to the reality that we were trying to portray on screen and that would help us separate ourselves from the big superhero shows that have us. preceded, “says Vietti. “We knew we wanted to tell the story in a very realistic way and that our audience felt the time flew by. We wanted to age the characters over time. That’s when Greg came up with timestamps, tracking every episode, every season in real time. “

“It’s something I’ve been regretting ever since,” Weisman jokes. “There’s way too much math involved. But I think it helped the show.

Vietti and Bourassa did their part to make sure that, from Season 1 to Season 4, each character also had their own unique wardrobe and didn’t look like every hero and villain in the series, as Weisman puts it. , “Bought their costumes in the same store.

“But we actually got away from that a bit very consciously,” he continues. “Because now that the heroes team up and the villains team up, they have access to each other’s finds and discoveries. For example, I’ve seen a lot of tweets about how – spoilers for anyone who hasn’t seen the show yet – when Connor walks into the lava in episode 4 of this new season, his shirt, his pants and shoes burn, but her underwear does not. Seems to be a cheat, except Connor knows about Fire from the Justice League who has clothes that don’t burn.

Vietti adds, “We also worked with the art directors and writers to take a more cinematic approach to storytelling, avoiding shots that might be too animated, too extreme in designs with speed lines in the background and things like that that don’t feel realistic to you. They are great graphically. But again, we’re trying to describe a realistic world and tell realistic stories. “

Of course, there are still plans and hidden Easter eggs from classic DC animations – the series even opens in Season 1 with a visit to the Hall of Justice, taken from Super friends. But with the show’s timestamps, their approach to costume and character design, as well as cinematography, Vietti and Weisman’s goal is to try and make audiences forget they’re watching a cartoon and, instead, to make him feel like he’s experiencing something very real.

“It really depends on the character,” Weisman explains. “We tried to dig deeper into the characters to show where these characters start and where these characters grow up. Sometimes where these characters backslide. This is one of the great advantages of having a show that stands the test of time. I grew up in comics and 70s TV and love that stuff. But one of the downsides is that you are doing season 33 of The simpsons, and Bart is still 10 years old. What if Bart was 43 now? Wouldn’t it be really interesting to see what’s going on with Bart and his kids and how Homer is the grandfather?

Stopping age is a common feature in the superhero genre as well, and Weisman says he and Vietti have gone against that stereotypical path with each new season of. Young justice, by not only creating a diverse and inclusive group of young heroes that fans love, but by making maximum use of Weisman’s timestamps to create even more complete characters.

“The comics have to make sure that Superman and Batman are always 30 or 29, and never really get old,” Weisman explains. “It inhibits what you can do in terms of the story with these characters. But we don’t. In our little corner of Earth-16 of the DC Multiverse, our character is aging and growing in real time, like all of us. lets really see the change. I think that’s the thing our audience relates to and cares about. It’s the only kind of inherent advantage we have over a lot of other shows. We have the freedom thanks to DC and Warner Brothers and this season on HBO Max, to let our characters grow.

Victoria Davis photo

Victoria Davis is a full-time freelance journalist and part-time Otaku with an affinity for all things anime. She has reported on many stories ranging from activist news to entertainment. To learn more about his work, visit victoriadavisdepiction.com.

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