Triumvirate of Terror!
Original Airdate - October 7th, 2011
Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman face off against their arch nemesis Lex Luthor, Joker and Cheetah who gain the upper hand by switching opponents.
Written by Paul Giacoppo
Directed by Michael Goguen
Review by Andrew
Media by The World's Finest
Creator Q & A with Producer James Tucker
The World's Finest: To get right to it – Wonder Woman, Batman and Superman....the trinity! Just how epic is this episode and how long in the making was it?
James Tucker: This episode was three seasons in the making since we weren’t able to use Superman and Wonder Woman for the first and second seasons due to legal reasons. In hindsight, it was probably good for the show that we couldn’t use them because it forced us to stay focused on the lesser known heroes, which was our mission statement to begin with. I think if we’d tried to do a Trinity episode in first season, it might have run the risk of being too pompous and reverential because we hadn’t quite settled into our anything goes groove yet. Doing it in third season allowed us to focus on just letting it be a fun, action packed episode.
WF: Describe your take on the big three and how it differs from the comics and other animated interpretations.
JT: In keeping with the general tone we established for Btaman: The Brave and The Bold, we just wanted to make a fun episode where we focus on the ‘friends’ aspect of the Trinity’s relationship to each other. The last thing Michael [Jelenic] and I wanted to do was a Trinity episode where they bickered and sniped at each other. We wanted to establish that they’d known each other since early in their super hero careers and they relate to each other in a less formal way than they probably do with any other superhero in the DC universe. We didn’t feel the need to give an edginess to how they deal with each other.
WF: Since you’re handling DC’s big three in this episode, was there added stress to make sure that this episode was an unquestioned home run?
JT: We didn’t let doing a Trinity episode stress us out too much. I didn’t feel that much pressure at this point because there had been a Trinity focused episode in Justice League Unlimited already "Deadman’s Reckoning," plus they’ve appeared together in Superman/ Batman: Apocalypse, so I never felt this would have to be the penultimate Trinity episode ever. I’m sure there will be more Trinity in animation and eventually live-action, so I knew we could just make it a fun romp like we usually do and explore their friendship without making it a big heavy world shattering event. The idea that appealed to us was that they’re the big three in the DC Universe but they’re also best friends, an idea that these days is usually expressed with them being at odds and kind of rude with each other. We wanted to go back to the simpler idea of them actually being friends, not frenemies, as they were for years in the earlier comic book and animated representations. That idea of characters just being friends and liking each other hasn’t been done in so long that it actually seemed refreshing to us to explore.
WF: The heroes face off against Lex Luthor, Cheetah and Joker. Is it safe to assume these villains were chosen since they are seen as the iconic enemies to the big three? Did you consider switching any particular villain out for another?
JT: These three villains were the only ones we really considered using. Wonder Woman’s arch enemy will always be The Cheetah to me (Priscilla Rich version, of course) so she was a no-brainer. Sorry, Ares or Circe fans...but no, it’s the Cheetah. And Batman and Superman’s greatest villains are obviously Joker and Luthor. My only regret is that Paul Giacoppo’s fantastically fun script was a little bit long and we had to lose some cool bits for time like a guest appearance by the entire Super Friends-era Legion of Doom in one shot and a scene of Diana Prince changing into Wonder Woman. I regret we didn’t get to do a whole Wonder Woman-focused episode because there was a lot more fun Wonder Woman stuff I’d have thrown into it. It would have been an easter egg fest! Anyway, a nice bit of casting was Tippi Hedren, of Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds and Marnie fame, voicing Hippolyta for us. It’s always nice to see actual Hollywood royalty in the flesh and she was extremely gracious and fun to work with. And impeccably dressed as befitting a movie star and the mother of Wonder Woman!
WF: The teaser to this episode features the JLI facing off against the Legion of Doom in an epic baseball match. Care to explain the origins and inspirations to the teaser?
JT: Michael Jelenic had been pitching (har har) this teaser for a while and I finally caved and we went with it. I don’t know if he’d seen the cover to an old DC comic from the 1970s called Strange Stories that featured the Justice League playing baseball with a group of supervillains or not, but he kept bringing it up in story meetings. I remembered owning that comic, DC fanboy that I am, and so we ended up doing it. It’s not a literal adaptation though because we just had time for it in a teaser so we did away with any explanation of why they’d be playing baseball. This is the kind of wacky thing we’d never have gotten away with first or even second season, but third season’s the charm evidently. Anyway, Michael insisted on Robin being in it so the fans can either assume this teaser took place before he became Nightwing or that it’s our first and only appearance of Tim Drake on Batman: The Brave and The Bold. Take your pick.
WF: To wrap, can you provide some closing thoughts on this episode and why viewers should tune in when it airs?
JT: They should tune in because it’s the decent thing to do! Joking. They should tune in because I think it’s a great episode for those who have nostalgia for DC’s most well-known characters as they were presented originally in comic book and early animation lore, and it’s also a great introduction to young and hopefully future DC fans to the world of DC comics history. Also it’s just a bitchin’ fun episode and a great way to kill 22 minutes. So there!
There is very little that can be said about this episode’s teaser aside from, simply, it is just peculiar. There’s no plot to be had, nor any sort of significance whatsoever; it simply exists. Strangely, despite this, it’s not a terrible teaser or even bad. It’s curiously enjoyable just watching the heroes and villains have a casual baseball game that doesn’t have some convoluted purpose such as the world’s safety hinging on who may win. I’m sure opinions on this teaser will vary greatly and perhaps my own is formed by these characters having become mostly sentimental to me through the show, making it nice to simply see them in such a light setting. Still, it’s very peculiar.
The main story of this episode is that which the vast majority of Brave and the Bold’s audience have been waiting for: one solely dedicated to the trio that DC Comics defines themselves by. Taking two whole seasons, and a stinted third, to finally get to this point was a difficult wait but patience has finally paid off. Superman, of course, isn’t new to being featured throughout a full episode due to “Battle of the Superheroes!” but this is certainly what Wonder Woman fans have mostly been waiting for. No mere teaser for her this time, as she’s presented as equally important as both Batman and Superman. Of course, to give this trio something to do, they’re joined with a triangle of trepidation: each of their most signature villains teaming up. Lex Luthor, like Superman, was only previously seen in “Battle of the Superheroes!” and, of course, the Joker has held quite the prominent role throughout Brave and the Bold’s previous seasons. Cheetah, however, is a nice bonus to this episode given that she is often ignored and presented as something of a blasé villain. This time, however, she certainly gets a bit more importance to her role.
Tired of having their plans foiled with predictability and ease by their rivals, the evil threesome decide to switch things up and take on heroes that aren’t as used to being their common foil. The Joker takes on Wonder Woman, Lex Luthor takes on Batman, and surprisingly Cheetah takes on big blue himself, Superman. The latter choice, to those, like me, that are unfamiliar with Cheetah seems both bizarre and ridiculous. However, the show doesn’t fail to deliver and does a decent job at not only explaining who Cheetah is, but why he would be a considerable challenge for the Man of Steel. Although the premise seems flimsy at first with the villains simply changing up which hero they go after, it is done enjoyably well and allows for a very perplexing twist to the norm. The only thing I didn’t particularly like was Joker’s ease in not only getting onto Themyscira, but also taking out Wonder Woman.
Overall, the episode is highly enjoyable and I recommend it as one of the must see episodes for this show. As mentioned, it offers some decent twists to the norm and manages to do a decent job with featuring the big three without leaving either of them out of, or, in, the spotlight for too long. The version of Lex featured may not be everybody’s favorites, but it does seem most fitting given that not only would his more corporate savvy incarnation be a bit difficult to introduce so quickly, but also this takes so much inspiration from the Silver Age anyway. It could be said that Wonder Woman does somewhat still get the short end of the stick when it comes to some parts of this episode, but it’s hardly anything that spoils the experience. It’s possibly too much of a simple pleasure, but the three of them hanging out in a diner exchanging banter was very fun.
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