Justice League is an animated television series about a team of superheroes which ran from 2001 to 2004 on Cartoon Network. The show was produced by Warner Bros. Animation. It is based on the Justice League and associated comic book characters. After its second season, it became Justice League Unlimited, and ran an additional three seasons.
Animator Bruce Timm, having successfully adapted both Batman: The Animated Series and Superman: The Animated Series into animated television programs in the 1990s, took on the challenge of adapting the Justice League comic book and turning it into an animated sequel to his two former animated series. This new animated TV series brought all sorts of new characters. Ignoring the sidekicks, pets, and other elements of the earlier Super Friends show, the line-up of this new JLA adaptation was created with two things in mind: to pay tribute to the original line-up of the Justice League of America while also reflecting racial and cultural diversity. Significantly, the well-known superhero Aquaman was left out of the lineup (although he would become a member of the team on Justice League Unlimited), and was replaced by Hawkgirl, the team's second female (along with Wonder Woman). Additionally, John Stewart-- an African-American Green Lantern who had previously worked with the League in the comics -- was used rather than one of the better-known modern-era Green Lanterns: Hal Jordan, Guy Gardner or Kyle Rayner (even though Rayner had appeared as Green Lantern in the Superman animated series). In addition to his race, the producer felt Stewart's original abrasive personality would have more dramatic potential. (In the second season, Rayner is described as a Lantern in training under John Stewart's old mentor, Katma Tui, explaining his absence. Both Rayner and Jordan make brief appearances in Justice League Unlimited. Gardner was never seen in either series.)
The show met with significant success, partially due to loyal fans already familiar with these incarnations of the characters, and partially from a new generation of viewers. The two-part nature of most episodes led Cartoon Network to choose to air the episodes back-to-back.
According to audio commentary on the DVD release of Season 2, the second season finale "Starcrossed" was expected to be the final episode of the series. However, in February 2004, Cartoon Network announced a follow-up series, Justice League Unlimited, which premiered on July 31, 2004. Justice League Unlimited features a greatly expanded roster of heroes, usually with only a few appearing in any given episode, although there are a few featuring just about the entire roster fighting against one giant enemy.
- Carl Lumbly as J'onn J'onzz/Martain Manhunter
- George Newbern as Clark Kent/Kal-El/Superman
- Susan Eisenberg as Princess Diana/Wonder Woman
- Kevin Conroy as Bruce Wayne/Batman
- Phil LaMarr as John Stewart/Green Lantern
- Maria Canals as Shayera Hol/Hawkgirl
- Michael Rosenbaum as Wally West/The Flash