DC’s new streaming service doesn’t have any new shows yet – but that shouldn’t stop you from having a good time with it.
During a beta version tryout, DC Universe revealed itself to be a fun, nostalgic digital experience. The service is a one-stop-shop for the live-action and animated TV series and movies that DC has produced over the years – and even DC’s comic books (more on that later).
You can watch episodes of Lynda Carter’s ’70s “Wonder Woman” television series and Christopher Reeve’s iconic “Superman” movies. If you enjoy John Wesley Shipp’s supporting role on The CW’s “The Flash” you can watch the ’90s CBS series of the same name, back when Shipp starred as the Scarlet Speedster and muscle suits seemingly had no limits. No ’90s superhero television stream would be complete without ABC’s “Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman,” starring Dean Cain and Teri Hatcher. DC Universe has all four seasons (87 episodes) of the campy and romantic series.
DC’s current live-action television universe on The CW (“Arrow,” “The Flash,” “Legends of Tomorrow,” “Supergirl” and “Black Lightning”) seems like a gaping omission. (Those shows currently stream on Netflix but perhaps could become available to DC Universe at some point.) And there’s no sign of the current DC movie universe, but maybe if upcoming films “Aquaman” and “Shazam” can be more “Wonder Woman” than “Justice League,” we’ll see the current DC movies available in the future.
Perhaps DC Universe’s strongest offering, at least for now, is the animated section. It features a wide variety of DC’s underrated straight-to-home-video movies, including the spectacular “Green Lantern: First Flight” from 2009, which makes you wonder how they could have gotten the live-action movie so wrong with this film as an animated template. The crown jewel of DC animation, “Batman: The Animated Series,” is there, as well, although the beta version had only the first two seasons. That makes sense, since Warner Bros. Animation is preparing to release the entire series in high definition on Blu-ray for the first time on Oct. 30. “Superman: The Animated Series” and Max Fleischer’s ’40s Superman cartoons are also available.
Like most streaming services, available content is subject to change, but DC says users will be notified when a series or movie is about to be removed.
Amid all this entertainment content is the feature that sets DC Universe apart from just being a streaming experience: the comics themselves. Watching a show or movie and then flipping your device to the comic that inspired it is a unique experience.
DC Universe has a well-curated collection of groundbreaking comics (“Action Comics” No. 1 and “Detective Comics” No. 27, the first appearances Superman and Batman), old-school nostalgic ones (Jack Kirby’s ’70s “Mister Miracle” series and Marv Wolfman and George Peréz’s ’80s hit “The New Teen Titans”) and current comics (plenty of titles from DC’s ongoing “Rebirth” era). You can swipe through Batman getting his back broken by Bane in “Batman” No. 497 or digitally flip through perhaps DC’s most famous comic ever, the death of Superman in “Superman” No. 75.
But the hype of DC Universe isn’t just a look into the past, it’s running toward a future that includes original content that will be available only on this service. The two most buzzed-about upcoming series are the live-action “Titans” and a new season of the animated “Young Justice.” “Titans” will be an intense, bloody, R-rated take on some of the same characters that are currently bringing in swarms of young fans in Cartoon Network’s “Teen Titans Go!” “Young Justice” is a revival of the show that ran two seasons on Cartoon Network starting in 2010, and it comes in response to online demand from fans. Neither will be available to stream when DC Universe goes live Sept. 15. “Titans” will get a preview at New York Comic-Con on Oct. 3, then arrive on DC Universe Oct. 12. “Young Justice” is expected to begin streaming in January 2019.
Those two series, and the response to them when they arrive, will likely be the determining factor for some fans as to whether to pay for DC Universe and get excited for future original offerings like “Stargirl” and “Swamp Thing.” DC provides two ways to pay: $7.99 a month or $74.99 annually. Not having “Titans” and “Young Justice” ready at launch doesn’t seem like the best idea, but it must mean DC is confident in what other options DC Universe provides, along with a hope that fans will be patient.
Whether it’s fair or not, DC Universe will likely be judged mostly by its original content. That makes it difficult to give a definitive description of the overall experience, except to say, at first glance, DC’s off to a good start.