There have been different interpretations of classic DC characters and storylines, but the DC Animated Universe has grown into one of the most beloved adaptations that are full of amazing versions of DC’s best. Pop culture has entered a period when superhero adaptations are the norm and even the characters on lists C and D get their own series and movies.
The DC Animated Universe has seen many changes over the past few decades, but it has become a destination of choice for some extremely unconventional DC performance. These animated versions can be a mixed bag, but even when they are at their worst, there is still something significant to be learned from the performances.
ten Nailed: Malcolm McDowell becomes the final steelworker
Superman: The Animated Series 1990s is widely regarded as one of the definitive versions of Man of Steel. The animated series effectively captures the sense of wonder and wonder that is essential to the character of Superman. Malcolm McDowell is an accomplished actor and he has lent his voice to some truly intimidating animated characters, like Death in Castlevania.
McDowell brings that same respect to Metallo, which runs through a range of emotions. McDowell accentuates Metallo’s raw pain, but her puzzling transformation and evolution is delicately present in McDowell’s nuanced voice acting.
9 Fallen short: Melissa Rauch falters over her Harley Quinn competition
The DC Animated Universe has taken on a lot of pivot over the years, as different DC properties have connected in different ways. Batman and harley quinn is a recent animated film from DC that features numerous voices from Batman: The Animated Series, but a major change is The Big Bang Theory Melissa Rauch step in as Harley Quinn.
Rauch’s performance is decent, but his cast just seems pointless and sensational. Arleen Sorkin’s work in the role is iconic, and even Kaley Cuoco’s most recent take on the play shows a better understanding of Harley than Rauch’s.
8 Nailed: Clancy Brown taps into Lex Luthor’s full range of emotions
Lex Luthor is a villain that is difficult to portray correctly, and the evil genius exhibits a deceptive complexity that is often difficult to display. There have been talented actors to put themselves in Luthor’s shoes.
However, Clancy Brown’s work in Superman: The Animated Series and through the original Justice League The efforts of the DCAU are simply unreal. Clancy Brown is no stranger to playing baddies and has the range to represent both Sponge Bob SquarePants’ Mr. Krabs as well as Superman’s nemesis. Brown never turns Luthor into a caricature and his pain and frustration is real.
7 Fell Short: Keri Russell goes through the moves as Wonder Woman
2009 animated Wonder woman tries to be a big budget show and features a starry voice cast that features people like Nathan Fillion, Rosario Dawson, and Alfred Molina. Keri Russell leads the pack as Wonder Woman and it’s a casting choice that just never comes true.
Russell is a phenomenal actress, but it sounds like a case where her star power played more than anything else. Oddly enough, Russell was apparently chosen after her performance in Waitress has been seen, which isn’t exactly the best incarnation on either side of Wonder Woman or Diana Prince.
6 Nailed: Mark Hamill’s Joker set the standard for the Clown Prince of Crime
There are plenty of complex and tortured villains in the DC Universe, but the Joker has become a centerpiece seen as one of the most psychologically taxing roles to portray. There are a growing number of performances of Joker, both live-action and animation, but none feel as iconic as Mark Hamill’s work in Batman: The Animated Series.
Hamill’s performance is so strong that it has become the norm, and he simultaneously portrays a playful and terrifying side to the villain. Hamill’s work is all the more impressive as his voice sounds completely foreign to his usual vocal register.
5 Fallen short: James Marsters’ Lex Luthor doesn’t intimidate Metropolis
Most genre fans probably know James Marsters for his memorable performance as Spike throughout. Buffy and Angel. Marsters has a passion for voice acting and has appeared in surprising places including anime. In theory, Marsters isn’t a bad choice to play Lex Luthor, but he thinks too much about the character’s threat and the result is a very nonchalant Lex Luthor.
Marsters’ performance is Justin Superman: Doomsday, which makes Luthor a pivotal player, but he never feels like a real threat. Marsters’ efforts to make Luthor look calm and malicious seem simply muffled.
4 Nailed: Michael Ironside pours Darkseid’s power
One of the biggest hurdles when it comes to some DC villains is that it’s hard to connect with threats on a scale big enough to take down Superman. Villains like Doomsday and The Darkseids are extremely powerful and visually upsetting, but it’s hard to really understand them.
Michael Ironside portrays Darkseid through the original DC Animated Universe entries and he points out just how dark and poetic this villain can be. Ironside’s baritone voice makes him a natural Darkseid, but he doesn’t doze through the role or reduce him to a mere tyrant hungry for revenge.
3 Fell Short: Ben Mackenzie as Batman in Batman: Year One Is A Messy Misfire in 2011
The stunt cast can sometimes beautifully subvert expectations, but at worst, it just creates an awkward experience that stands out. Ben Mackenzie rightly deserves his place in the Batman universe for his role as young Commissioner Gordon in Gotham.
Mackenzie voiced Gordon in an animated DC entry, but Batman: Year One try to go even further and make it the star. It’s easy to see the thought process behind Mackenzie’s role as Batman in Batman: Year One, but it just doesn’t work and he can’t find the right energy for this disgruntled version of the character.
2 Nailed: Tim Daly stylishly captures both sides of Clark Kent and Superman
Much attention is paid to Kevin Conroy’s portrayal of Batman in the DCAU, and rightly so, but Tim Daly’s complementary work in Batman: The Animated Series’ the sister series is even more impressive. Tim Daly understands the weight on Superman’s shoulders and the different directions his life takes him.
Daly’s work as Superman becomes even more important and polished throughout Justice League and Unlimited Justice League where he commands the presence of a perfect leader. There have been a lot of flashy A-list voice actors who have since voiced Superman, but Daly effortlessly embodies the character.
1 Fell Short: Thomas Gibson shouldn’t be near an assassin like Deathstroke
Son of batman is at times too gritty for its own good, but it does an impressive job with its exploration of the complex relationship between Batman, Dick Grayson, and Damian Wayne.
There is a lot to unpack in this story and the presence of Deathstroke is one element that never fully works. Deathstroke emerges as a threat both the League of Assassins as well as the Bat-Family and Thomas Gibson of Criminal minds and Dharma & Greg celebrity is not the man for the job. His attempts for a cold, gruff Slade Wilson seem inauthentic.
NEXT: DC: 5 Actors From The Batman Movie Who Starred Their Parts (& 5 Who Fell Short)
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