Before you start yelling at me about “kids movie” or “hasn’t come out yet” please know this isn’t some angry rant. I’m not angry, just disappointed. The big problem is being a symptom of a larger issue. I’m not hating on a movie I haven’t seen or something not “made for me” (the hell it isn’t…I may not be the target age group, but I’m the guy watching Paw Patrol so you don’t decide what my tastes are), but I am seeing a huge mistake in something that will affect their brand history.
WarnerMedia and DC Entertainment never cease to amaze me with how little they care about their own properties. When I heard they wanted to make a Krypto the Superdog movie with all his superpet friends I was…at least curious. I may be too old for a kids movie but when has that stopped me? I watch what I like and while I’m not tightly linked to DC’s superpet history I did want to see what take they were going to make for it. I did grow up with Krypto in reruns of Filmation’s The New Adventures Of Superman as part of the flashback Superboy segments, from the days when they were the adventures of Superman as a teen. I did see modern stories that used Krypto and his animal friends. Seeing a new generation exposed to Krypto and the super animal buddies he was created alongside like Ace the Bathound was something I was looking forward to.
Then in my continued push through my YouTube backlog I came upon the trailer for DC League Of Super-Pets, a computer animated movie in which Krypto and friends have to save the Justice League from yet another Lex Luthor scheme. Sounds good…then I saw the other pets and had to ask…who are these guys?
Remember this as I go through my problems: I don’t hate this movie. On a technical level I will say the art style doesn’t do the heroes much…no pun intended…justice, and I don’t know why the symbol on the front of Superman’s outfit is the Kingdom Come color scheme instead of the iconic red and yellow, but the rest I’m okay with. The style does work for the animals, who will be the central characters (one would think but we’ve been zonked in the past), the humor in the trailer is hit or miss for me but with more hits, and the voice cast seems like a good one. Dwayne Johnson as Krypto just might work. He seems to be as comfortable voice acting as he is regular acting and being in the wrestling ring. The rest (we don’t really hear the turtle talk mind you) also seem to work okay. Who doesn’t like Kevin Hart?
So why am I disappointed? These are not the Super Pets. Outside of Krypto, none of the actual Super Pets show up. No Ace The Bathound, no Streaky The Supercat, no Comet, no Topo the octopus, Jumpa the Kanga, not even Beepo the Supermonkey and I don’t even care about that one. Heck, I’d settle for Wonderdog, the walrus from the Filmation Aquaman cartoon, or maybe even Dynomutt, and none of them were from the comics. Even better, have Krypto team with the Dog Stars/Space Canine Patrol Agents, the space dogs he did team up with in the comics and in his own cartoon series from a few years ago.
Instead we have a bunch of animals with no ties whatsoever to DC history. An indestructible dog (which Krypto already has in his powerset), a size-changing pig, a squirrel that shoots lightning, and of course the turtle with superspeed because Rao forbid we don’t use that stupid cliché. Why not make him a ninja while you’re at it? Granted I like the names the pig comes up with, less so “Shell On Wheels” than the others–odd choice for a kids movie, though the squirrel doesn’t get one in the trailer. However, these are brand new characters, leading me to believe this was planned as some superhero version of The Secret Life Of Pets and somebody shoved Krypto and the Justice League in there because they didn’t have enough faith in their original concept. That always saddens me.
The real disappointment here is that this is symbolic of a larger problem, the continued and sometimes willful ignorance of DC’s own history AND a lack of faith in original properties. If this isn’t some rework of an original concept then it shouldn’t be that hard to check your own records. They starred in Krypto’s own show in 2005, as seen in the intro at the start of this article. Super Pets have been showing up in animation as late as 2016’s Justice League Action, by writers who actually pay tribute to DC’s long and sometimes silly history. The Super Pets had their own series of shorts for DC Nation from around 2012. They showed up in an issue of DC Super Friends from 2009 and a 2016 Scooby-Doo Team-Up, plus recurring in Tiny Titans from 2008. It’s not like this is hard information to find. How do you ignore a part of your legacy that has shown up multiple times in this still new century alone?
Like I said, there seems to be a willing ignorance of their own properties. Hanna-Barbera has the same issue as most of their properties have only made a return in DC comics, and only got to be themselves in Scooby-Doo Team-Up outside of Space Ghost’s cameo in an episode of Batman: The Brave & The Bold. In DC’s case there is close to a century’s worth of material and if it does pop up it’s usually a shadow of its former self…even if that character is actively appearing in modern DC comics. Even in the comics they get stuff wrong, like Billy Batson turning from a good kid who didn’t let his life falling apart ruin his positive attitude to exactly the kind of kid you’d expect from that life. (Also a good time to add Hoppy the Marvel Bunny to the Super-Pets but good luck with that.) Today’s writers from the comics to the movies want to change everything and just use the nostalgia as marketing. The upcoming “Batman” movie and the more recent “Joker” film are the worst cases but you have Zack Snyder’s DCU, SyFy’s take on Krypton, and the Arrowverse as a descending staircase of getting it wrong. Between the comics and the shows and movies Warner Entertainment and the current DC Comics stewards don’t seem to care about their own history, so why should I expect the kids movie to get it right I guess.
This is probably because they are banking on nostalgia. The current kids may not have seen those shows I mentioned and wouldn’t even know who Krypto is, so his appearance there is strictly for the adults to want to take their kids to see a new version of characters they grew up with. When they get there all they’ll have is Krypto. No Ace, no Streaky, and none of the other already established Super Pets in favor of these unknown wanna-bes that should have just had their own movie.
That’s what it should have been, a movie about shelter pets who gain powers and have to save the city or the world or something, without the ties to established history ruining their impact for adults who may just grab those shows I mentioned to show them the REAL Super-Pets (you know they’re going to show up if only to hype the movie because someone doesn’t know any better and certainly doesn’t care about their own history while thinking kids are dumb) and by the time the movie comes out the disappointment that only Krypto is showing up will hurt the movie. Or the parents who aren’t comic/cartoon fans who know as much about Krypto and Ace as their five-year-old will take them and all this long history will be gone down the memory hole, another lost property.
WarnerMedia had two good options and one bad one. Make a Super-Pets movie with the actual Super Pets or make an unrelated movie about animals given powers via a meteor (also how the Paw Patrol sometimes has superpowers because that show and toyline do pretty much everything) and let it stand out on its own. Instead they took the bad option and showed how little they care not only about their own history but about their own original ideas, believing it will only work if they tie it into their parents’, possibly their grandparents’, or older sibling’s nostalgia. If they don’t care, why should we?