Animation veteran Greg Weisman was always hopeful Young Justice — canceled in 2013 after a two-season run on Cartoon Network — would come back. But he never thought it would actually happen.
“I’ve been on shows where I feel there’s no possible way they’ll ever come back, but this isn’t one of them,” says Weisman, speaking to press following the Young Justice: Outsiders panel, promoting the upcoming third season Friday at Comic-Con International: San Diego.
Though no premiere date has been set for the series’ 26 half-hour episodes, the Warner Bros. Animation production will stream on a planned DC-branded digital service. Brandon Vietti, who co-created the show with Weisman, is returning to the series as producer, as is art director Phil Bourassa and executive producer Sam Register.
When asked what changed between 2013 and 2017 to allow the show to continue, Weisman said it was clearly the growth of streaming.
“Sam Register said to Brandon and I and Phil: ‘You created the perfect binge-watching show, you just did it five years too soon,’” Weisman says. “If that model had existed five years ago, we might never have gone off the air.”
Weisman says talks about reviving the fan-favorite series had been going on for a while, and was based on the groundswell of fan support the show received.
“There’s a surreal quality to it, every time we start a new setup in the (production) process,” says Weisman. “To this day, I still think it’s kind of a minor miracle
Like the previous seasons, the third will start with a time jump and feature a focused storyline told in near real time. The evolution of the individual characters over time and the generational element of heroes passing the baton to younger heroes will continue, says Weisman, as seen with the way the show introduced Cissie King-Jones and Stephanie Brown long before they assumed the respective mantles of Arrowette and Spoiler.
“As characters get older and change, some will walk away from this, some will die,” says Weisman.
Despite being a DC show and carrying on that publisher’s 75-plus-year storytelling tradition and continuity, Weisman and Vietti say they first and foremost try to please the fans.
“We’re making a show we want to see,” says Weisman. “I can’t be guessing at what the fans wants. I have to be passionate about it, because if I’m not passionate about it, how can I expect a fan to be passionate about it?”
The streaming service model also offers more creative freedom than Cartoon Network and its standards and practices did. That means the themes can get more mature and deeper, but will not significantly alter the tone or approach to the show, says Weisman.
Joining the group is a new member, Thirteen, based on the comics character Traci Thirteen.
“We think she’s a real fun character,” says Weisman, who declined to reveal much about her powers or the actress who will voice her. “Her powers are magic, like Traci Thirteen’s, but with a Young Justice twist.”
The characters all get an updated look, courtesy of Bourassa. “Coming back I’ve added things to my repertoire that I feel like will build a better mousetrap,” he says. “Not necessarily changing the fundamental DNA of the design, but changing things so it can work for the animators.”
The arc of the third season was not something that had been worked out prior to the original series’ cancelation, but was relatively easy to jump back into, says Vietti,
“Season one and season two naturally progress into season three,” he says. “I hesitate to say we were setting things up for season three, but when we got into the writers room we looked back at what had been done before and what would be the next step.”