The DC Universe panel at SDCC had quite a bit to share to fans — some that was disappointing, a lot of that was great, and a pilot that is currently my favorite thing ever.
Along with providing attendees to San Diego Comic Con with some awesome swag (those daily posters at the WB/DC booth were absolutely gorgeous!), DC Universe likewise brought some good news and sneak peeks for fans in their two-hour panel at SDCC.
Let’s start with the disappointing…
Even though we’d heard nothing to support this line of thinking and there was absolutely no reason to believe it would be happen, I still strapped on my clown shoes and donned my big red nose in the hopes that the DC Universe panel would surprise us with news that it had decided to rescind its cancellation of my current favorite show, Swamp Thing.
This did not happen.
In fact, other than me shouting “Save Swamp Thing” near the end of the panel (not at anyone, just out loud to the room), there was no mention of Swamp Thing at all during the nearly two hours fans spent in Indigo Ballroom.
It’s as if DC Universe wanted to pretend that the show never even premiered on their service, despite the fact that it’s gotten consistently good reviews and was even nominated for a Saturn Award.
Well, I haven’t forgotten, and this cancellation will go down forever as my biggest defeat and the source of my villain origin story.
Onto all the great news!
The Titans cast and crew opted out of the panel after the tragic death of stuntman Warren Appleby on the set of Titans season 2, which was absolutely the right move.
But, even though they weren’t at the panel to discuss season 2, they did grace us with a short Titans teaser to preview the upcoming second season and provided us with a release date of Friday, September 6!
While the teaser has yet to make its way online, I’ll try to give at least a broad overview of what I can remember (and what is discernible through the cheers on my audio) of the 30-second trailer.
After a short series of clips recapping what happened in season 1, the teaser jumps ahead in time in season 2, bypassing any hints as to how the Titans defeat Trigon and instead begin with a scene of Iain Glen’s Bruce Wayne walking down a hallway in Wayne Manor with Brenton Thwaite’s Dick Grayson.
“I see you made the news with your old Titans friends,” he says to Dick, in a tone I believe is meant to be quietly proud. This is followed by a few clips of various members of the Titans we were introduced to in season 1 (including Hawk and Dove) fighting together as a team, and segues into a few clips of newer members — Donna Troy in a superhero outfit, Aqualad and a brief cameo of Krypto, Superboy’s famous dog.
This is met with a lot of cheering in my audio version, so I can’t tell you what’s being said, only that people are very excited to see it and I’m sure you will be as well. The next bit of discernible audio is a scene which I will assume is in Titans Tower, with a Rachel who has her gem in her forehead, asking Dick, “So, what are we? Titans 2.0?” To which Dick replies, “Titans: Next Generation?”
A few more fight scenes and a hero walk scene that features Donna Troy and Aqualad in the line-up.
The teaser ends with our first look at season 2 big bad Deathstroke in all his Deathstroke glory.
On to the next bit of great news — fan favorite and resident superhero show of absurdity Doom Patrol not only has a Saturn Award nomination to celebrate, it has likewise been renewed for a second season — one which will air on both Warner Media’s newly announced streaming site, HBO Max, and on DC Universe.
As the crew just received the news, there wasn’t much of anything to talk about with the upcoming season, only that everyone was very excited to make it.
Finally, the last bit of renewal news — Young Justice, which is midway through its third season, has likewise been renewed for a fourth season! Brandon Vietti and Greg Weisman thanked the fans for not only bringing back the show for the third season, but for streaming the third season enough to convince DC Universe to grant them the fourth season.
In fact, they wrote in the power of social media for good storyline in the backhalf of season 3 as a shout-out to fans of the show, who utilized a variety of social platforms to bring the show back for a third season.
They didn’t want to give too much away, but they revealed that they were already about halfway through writing the fourth season, which they talked about giving us more from Apokolips and as being less plot-focused than season 3 and more focused on the characters. They will focus in on a smaller group of core characters for the season.
Three cheers for a fucking amazing pilot
Before screening the very first episode of Harley Quinn for us, moderator Damian Holbrook warned the audience that the show was absolutely not for children.
And with a first episode inspired by Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill, a “fuck” counter that leapt up to 22 times in the second episode, and more blood and gore than you might’ve seen in the last four Saw films, it’s easy to see why.
The pilot episode focuses on Harley Quinn (voiced by Haley Cuoco) slowly coming to the realization that Joker (voiced to perfection by Alan Tudyk) will never love her the way he loves Batman, and that he has in fact used, abused and taken her for granted all these years.
Of course, it takes nearly a year of Joker leaving her in Arkham Asylum and quite a bit of convincing — like, really all the convincing — from Poison Ivy, whom she not only befriends in Arkham but is eventually the one who breaks her out, to get her to leave Joker.
But leave him she does! She kicks him to the curb, trades in her traditional Harley look for one more inspired by the recent Suicide Squad film and announces her intention to dethrone the Clown Prince of Crime to become the queen of the Gotham Underworld.
She does this with a lot of murder, a lot of swearing and more than a few times where she calls Batman out for fucking bats.
But even with all the gore, all the over-the-top violence, and an amount of swearing that could make an 18th century sailor blush, Harley Quinn is a fantastically fun and surprisingly heartwarming show. This is a show I will confidently say ranks among the top of my favorites when it comes to DC Universe’s pilots — secondary only to my beloved Swamp Thing.
And just like Swamp Thing, Harley Quinn is a show that is confident in what it is and knows exactly how to execute on that confidence. This isn’t a show about Harley Quinn, secondary character and girlfriend to Joker. This is about Harley Quinn, protagonist in her own life story, a fascinating, warped, and batshit crazy (in the best possible way) woman who executive producer Patrick Schumacker described as “Mary Tyler Moore…if she were a killer” and a “constant optimist despite all the viscera.”
It’s a show that was pitched as some crazy mix of ensemble comedy, workplace comedy and comic book show, which doesn’t feel like it should work but absolutely does in the best possible way.
At its heart, it is also a breakup story. Executive producer Justin Halpern and supervising producer Jennifer Coyle discussed Harley’s arc in the first season, describing it as being about someone who’s in a relationship with someone who’s shitty, who’s toxic and sucks all the oxygen out of the room. So, when she finally is free of that relationship, of living someone else’s life, she begins to ask herself the question, “What do I actually want?”
Which this season will explore.
It’s an absolutely pitch perfect pilot for a Harley Quinn series — hilarious, brightly lit and colored, and unafraid. It’s a story of a woman striking out on her own after a suffocating relationship — and doing so with a community she builds around herself and strong female friendships which support her.
I had an absolute blast watching the pilot and I know you all will, too! Just make sure there are no children in the room when you do it.