Let’s take a look at the 10 best Justice League cartoons, from the iconic Young Justice series to the classic Justice League cartoons of previous decades.
Justice League cartoons have been around since the ’60s. Believe it or not, Aquaman used to be all the rage. When he teamed up with his superhero friends, Justice League cartoons became very popular. Recently DC has been pumping out straight-to-video Justice League cartoons.
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#1 Young Justice
Young Justice focuses on the Justice League wannabes, who are apprentices to the members of the Justice League. Robin (Dick Grayson), Superboy (Connor Kent), Aqualad (Kaldur’ahm), Artemis Crock, Miss Martian ( M’gann M’orzz), and Kid Flash (Wally West) make up the original team of members. Zatana, Speedy (Red Arrow), and Rocket come in and out, as well.
The Young Justice team trains in a cave, set up by Batman. To prove themselves worthy of the Justice League, they take on villains, like the League of Shadows, Lex Luthor, the Injustice League, and The Light.
Young Justice is delicious to binge-watch. Even though the characters are beloved and familiar, the storylines are unique, because the Young Justice episodes do not follow the DC universe timeline.
“Summit” The alliance between The Light (villains Vandal Savage, Ra’s al Ghul, Lex Luthor, the Bialyan Queen Bee, Ocean Master, Brain, and Klarion the Witch Boy) and the Reach is destroyed when Ra’s al Ghul outs Tigress as Artemis.
“Auld Acquaintance” The Team of Young Justice members engage in a fierce battle with Red Torndao, to free the Justice League members from being brainwashed.
“Bloodlines” Roy Harper is rescued from the League of Shadows. Through time travel, The Flash, Kid Flash, and Impulse defeat Neutron.
#2 Justice League
Justice League is one of the best superhero TV cartoons ever created. (The other being The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.) There’s very little humor, but a lot of epic storytelling. Justice League takes being a superhero seriously. The material is thoughtful and smart.
Justice League follows the traditional members — Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, The Flash, Hawkgirl, and Martian Manhunter. After the second season, it was re-titled Justice League Unlimited. Throughout its run, the members fought common DC villains, like Lex Luthor, Deadshot, Grodd, The Joker, and Vandal Savage.
“Destroyer” The series finale is very fulfilling and action-packed. The Justice League teams up with the bad guys, the Secret Society, to defeat Darkseid, who wants to take over the entire planet.
“Divided We Fall” The Flash is taken to the edge of a scary precipice. He has to push his speed to the limit in order to pull apart Lex Luthor and Brainiac, who have fused. He is nearly pulled into the Speed Force forever.
#3 Superman: The Animated Series
Justice League cartoons generally have great casts, but Superman: The Animated Series has an especially top-notch group of actors. Tim Daly as Superman, Dana Delaney as Lois Lane, and Clancy Brown as Lex Luthor, kept a nice note of gravitas in their dialogue.
Superman: The Animated Series combines the traditional idea of Superman from the Silver Age of Comics, with the modern notion of a superhero, who has to work to use his powers and defeat foes.
“World’s Finest” In this trilogy of episodes, Batman and Superman team up against The Joker and Lex Luthor.
“Speed Demons” Superman and The Flash team up against the Weather Wizard.
“Knight Time” Superman takes up the Dark Knight mantle in Gotham City when Batman goes missing.
“The Demon Reborn” Batman and Superman are again partners, against Ra’s Al Ghul, who comes to Metropolis.
#4 Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox
Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox was released straight to home video. This feature-length Justice League cartoon is based on the amazing comic book crossover, Flashpoint. After defeating several members of the Rogues Gallery, The Flash finds himself in a war-torn alternate timeline. Eventually, Zoom (Eobard Thawne) reveals that Barry himself is responsible for this terrible timeline.
Some of the plot twists are mind-bending, and the ending may leave you with too many questions. But the storytelling digs deep and the stakes are very high.
#5 The Super Powers Team: Galactic Guardians
The Super Powers Team Galactic Guardians was short-lived, but entertaining. Cyborg plays a big part this time around, fighting alongside Robin, Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Firestorm, Hawkman, and Green Lantern. The Justice League battles Darkseid, a dark new god who wants to take over the planet.
“The Death of Superman” It doesn’t get much heavier than this. Superman dies while he’s visiting a planet where he is exposed to a great amount of Kryptonite. Firestorm was with him, but couldn’t save him. He’s so distraught he flies away and leaves the team. The rest of the Justice League members send Superman’s body into the sun, then head off to the Fortress of Solitude. Darkseid wants to be sure Superman is gone, so he captures Firestorm, who is forced to tell the story. Darkseid makes plans to invade Earth.
#6 The Superman/Aquaman Hour of Adventure
Don’t let Robot Chicken fool you; Aquaman used to be popular. The Superman/Aquaman Hour of Adventure aired in the ’60s. This series took segments of Justice League cartoons that already existed, and strung them together for 60-minute episodes. The main action centered on Aquaman, his wife, Mera, and Aqualad. The Atom, The Flash, Green Lantern, Hawkman, and Superman all guest star.
“Between Two Armies” The Justice League has to negotiate peace between the Rock People and the Crystal People of Mercury, who are using Earth as their battlefield.
“Bad Day on Black Mountain” All the members of the Justice League are captured by a warlord named Mastermind. He imprisons them in the desert to keep them from ruining his plans.
#7 The World’s Greatest Super Friends
The World’s Greatest Super Friends should not be confused with that other Justice League cartoon, Super Friends, although they both aired in the ’70s. The World’s Greatest Super Friends told stories that put our Justice League members into situations with mythic or fairy tale characters, in addition to traditional DC villains. Skip “The Lord of Middle Earth,” when the Justice League members are turned into trolls and enslaved by an magical subterranean tyrant.
The World’s Greatest Super Friends starred one of the most iconic duos of the 20th Century, the Wonder Twins, Zan and Jayna.
“Lex Luthor Strikes Back” Lex Luthor escapes from prison to kill the Super Friends. He loses control and disastrous events unfold.
“Universe of Evil” Superman and his evil other-dimensional counterpart, Bizarro, inadvertently exchange their realities.
“The Planet of Oz” Mister Mxyzptlk abducts Superman, Wonder Woman, and Aquaman. He takes them to his version of Oz, so he can use them to find the Wizard.
#8 The Batman/Superman Movie: World’s Finest
The Batman/Superman Movie: World’s Finest sees a mash-up of Batman’s and Superman’s worlds. Lex Luthor hires the Joker to visit Metropolis and kill Superman. Plenty of favorite DC characters show up for this Justice League cartoon, including Harley Quinn, Lois Lane, Commissioner Gordon, and Alfred. So, this time around, we get to see not only a mix of superheroes, but also a mix of villains.
The cast includes regular DC character actors. Tim Daly plays Superman; Kevin Conroy plays Batman; Dana Delaney plays Lois Lane; Clancy Brown plays Lex Luthor; Arleen Sorkin plays Harley Quinn; and Mark Hamill plays the Joker, one of his best voice-over roles ever.
#9 Challenge of the Super Friends
Challenge of the Super Friends is the full name of Super Friends, from the ’70s. For years, this Justice League cartoon was synonymous with Saturday morning. It was a huge hit, mostly because it was the first real attempt to flesh out superheroes as characters. Super Friends found a nice balance of campy humor and serious storytelling. The Justice League members were friends with Wendy, Marvin, and Wonderdog, who spent most of their time solving mysteries.
“The Fantastic Frerps” King Plasto has been intercepting every shipment of raw plastic powder on its way to the government space research station, because he intends to use the raw powder for his own means.
“Gulliver’s Gigantic Goof” Dr. Gulliver uses his microwave reducer to shrink every adult human being in the world down to a convenient size of 2″ tall.
#10 Super Friends (’80s)
The ’80s version of Super Friends starred Aquaman, Batman, Robin, Superman, and Wonder Woman. They were joined by the Wonder Twins and Gleek, a blue space monkey. The villains were traditional DC villains, like Lex Luthor, the Riddler, Sinestro, and Gorilla Grodd.
“The Revenge of Doom” In this delicious episode, the League of Doom gains control of the Hall of Justice. The Super Friends have to find a way to reverse the effects of Lex Luthor’s weapon and save Metropolis.
Thanks for reading! Which DC cartoon is your favorite? Tell me in the comments!
I just watched the Flashpoint Paradox because my boyfriend recommended it to me and I loved it! It was so good! I’m currently on season 2 of Young Justice so I might binge it a little and hopefully have it done soon.
Nice review of the various Justice League cartoons but there’s one goof: You have confused the original “Super Friends” series of the mid 70s with “Challenge of the Super Friends” of the late 70s. Each episode featured the original five in a story with the Wonder Twins and another story with several JLAers against the Legion of Doom. Besides “The Revenge of Doom,” its best episodes were “Secret Origins of the Super Friends” and “Super Friends, Rest in Peace.” And if I sound like a tremendous geek, well, it’s because I am.
We’re all geeks here! Thanks for the clarification.