Superman vs. The Elite
Derek Johns: Superheroes are often criticized for not killing their enemies and there’s probably no one more criticized for this fact than Superman. Superman vs. The Elite however, shows not only the importance of his no kill policy but how impossible it is for him to be a beacon of hope without it. Honorable mention goes to the Batman film Under the Red Hood.
Justice League / Justice League Unlimited
Caleb Masters: Batman the Animated Series deserves all of the credit for redefining what could be done in animation(especially with superheroes), but I think it’s the Justice League series that fully realized the potential of serialized storytelling in animation. This is the series that brought more than a decade’s worth of material from at least three different series together into one super-crossover series comprised of 91 episodes.
Showrunner Bruce Timm filled in the blanks on a number of questions from past years work while also naturally progressing the story lines that were left hanging in the balance. Finally seeing Batman and Superman team up with the other iconic heroes to take on Darkseid, Brainiac, and Amanda Waller was really a thing of legend. In the minds of my generation of viewers, this was the definitive version of the Justice League. The Avengers pulled off an incredible feat in cinema, but Justice League did it on TV first.
Bethany Lewis: I love the Justice League, partly because I love to see how Batman, a guy without any super powers at all, still commands respect and fear among super powered heroes and villains alike. There are several scenes where members of the League try to emulate Batman without the corresponding effect. When Superman ineffectually threatens a criminal, he marvels to himself, “How does Batman do it?” It’s also amazing to see just how pragmatic Batman is, having devised methods of neutralizing any member of the very team he founded – an eventuality that never occurred to any of the other league members.
It’s also capable of being excellently funny as well as startlingly profound or bizarrely absurd. One of my favorite episodes is the two part Joker story called Wild Cards where the Joker waxes meta as he televises a race to defuse a bomb hidden somewhere is Las Vegas. On the profound side is the episode where Wonder Woman must make a choice between her people and the Justice League. Throw in an amazing voice cast courtesy of the ever reliable Andrea Romano, and you have a pretty solid show.
Batman: The Animated Series
Caliber Winfield: This was really the last ground-breaking moment in animation, I think. There hasn’t been anything that’s hit the landscape that’s been as revolutionary as BTAS. Everything from the fantastic noir animation, well thought-out & written story-lines, and the absolute top-notch voice acting, the show has completely withstood the test of time.
When you’re a child, there can be a ton of things you enjoy, but when you get older you look at it and go “huh, Power Rangers was not the gripping drama I once thought”. But with Batman, it’s the complete opposite. The show only gets better, cementing it’s legacy as arguably the greatest animated series of all time.
Shawn S. Lealos: This was a tough one for me. I love Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes because of how close it remains to the source comics that I loved as a kid. Honestly, that was a great show. Young Justice was great as were the Batman movies. However, I am going with Spectacular Spider-Man. Honestly, it took me a little to really like the animation but the storyline was just great, staying pretty close to the comics but making some improvements when it came to updating the story. Spider-Man was always my favorite superhero as a kid and this show really remained loyal to the heart of the comics.