Comics On TV

DC Super Hero Girls Brings Wonder Woman, Batgirl, Harley Quinn, More Fan-Favorite Characters to the Small Screen

The women behind the new Cartoon Network animated series explain how the show will appeal to a broader audience than the younger-skewing webseries of the same name.

by | March 11, 2019 | Comments

With classic characters such as Supergirl and Batgirl making an indelible mark on pop culture — along with more recent characters including Harley Quinn — the iconography for the DC Super Hero Girls range of comics, toys, and books was strong and the appeal immediate. Debuting in 2015 with a web series and a toy line, it re-framed characters like Batgirl and Harley as students at Super Hero High who experienced typical young teen problems along with complications from their side gigs as heroes. It eventually led to direct-to-video features, an animated broadcast special, and graphic novels as part of a continual expansion of the brand.

But last week’s debut of a new DC Super Hero Girls animated series on Cartoon Network, developed and executive produced by My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic’s Lauren Faust, establishes a new cartoon continuity for the brand that is separate from the web series. And as voice actors Tara Strong and Kimberly Brooks — veterans of both versions — told Rotten Tomatoes, the new series is very different from its predecessor.

The show focuses on a group of girls at a Metropolis-area high school who discover they all moonlight as superheroes. The team includes Batgirl, a.k.a. Barbara Gordon (Strong); Wonder Woman, a.k.a. Diana Prince (Grey Griffin); Zatanna (Kari Wahlgren); Green Lantern, a.k.a. Jessica Cruz (Myrna Velasco); Bumblebee, a.k.a. Karen Beecher (Brooks); and Supergirl, a.k.a. Kara Danvers (Nicole Sullivan). Characters including Lena Luthor, her older brother Lex, and Barry Allen also populate the world. Harley Quinn (also Strong) even makes a cameo appearance in the series’ 60-minute debut, “#SweetJustice;” a frantic, silly, and fun introduction to the characters as they learn to be friends and heroes.

Warner Bros./Cartoon Network

(Photo by Warner Bros./Cartoon Network)

“The last version was geared toward a younger audience,” Strong explained. While the earlier format “had its place” and drew in plenty of little girls who were fans of the superheroes, she noted the new show is “a lot sleeker and more sophisticated and appeals to a much broader audience.”

The growing sophistication and broader intended age range also means an added emphasis on what superheroes do best: fight.

“[On] this show we actually do some serious fighting,” Strong said. “We have serious weaponry. The stakes are a lot higher. In my view, it’s a completely different show, although still encapsulating what it is to be a female superhero and be a teenager.”

The series is also hilarious and will attract plenty of boys as well, the women added, but most importantly, it’ll appeal to families.

“The kids are going to like it and also there’s humor that adults are going to get, too. It’s not wasted on us,” Brooks said. Gags include punny names for businesses, an extended Twilight pastiche in “#SweetJustice,” and nods to more obscure elements of DC Comics mythology.

Wahlgren credited Faust and her deep knowledge of the comics as essential to shaping the series and explicitly communicating to her stars what she wants to achieve.

“She’s so talented and she’s also really, really open to suggestions and interpretations from the actors,” Wahlgren said. “I think we’ve all had a chance to find our characters because she’s given us a lot of leeway to do that.”

Warner Bros./Cartoon Network

(Photo by Warner Bros./Cartoon Network)

Added Strong, “I just thanked her last week for having every single body type represented in this show. As a little girl, I was never, like, a little stick-skinny thing, and when you see magazine covers of supermodels you think, ‘Oh is that what I’m supposed to be?’ And so the fact that every single body shape is represented in superheroes [means] … there’s an authenticity to these characters that translates.”

As it happens, Faust was fostering a concept very similar to DC Super Hero Girls for ages. As part of Cartoon Network’s 2012 DC Nation block, she produced a pilot of sorts with Super Best Friends Forever, five animated shorts featuring a bulked up Supergirl (Sullivan), a tiny and energetic Batgirl (Strong), and a confident Wonder Girl (Griffin) leading the pack. So the fact that aspects of the designs and the voices return in DC Super Hero Girls is no accident.

“As a concept series for these females, I thought [Super Best Friends Forever] was such a strong idea. It was not long after Powerpuff Girls and I thought, ‘let’s keep this rolling.’ And it didn’t get picked up,” Strong recalled. The continued success of the DC Super Hero Girls range led to discussions with Faust to revive elements of Super Best Friends Forever as the new DC Super Hero Girls show. As production began, Faust produced a new version of the Super Best Friends Forever short “Time Waits for No Girl” — in which Batgirl waits for her father to go to sleep so she can join the other heroes — as DC Super Hero Girls‘ “#TheLateBatsby,” which ran in front of the theatrical release of Teen Titans GO! to the Movies.

All three actors have long associations with the DC Comics characters. Brooks voiced Oracle in the Batman: Arkham video game series, Lightning and Mari McCabe in the previous DC Super Hero Girls, and Batgirl in the Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham video game. Strong often voices Harley in projects as varied as the earlier DC Super Hero Girls, Batman: Arkham City, and an infamous scene on Arrow ( for which she’s credited as “Deranged Squad Female”). She is also well known for voicing Raven in the Teen Titans and Teen Titans GO! animated series. Wahlgren has voiced Starfire in the DC Animated Universe direct-to-video features, Saturn Girl, and Zatanna once before in the Justice League Heroes video game.

The three stars agreed that the new DC Super Hero Girls is a particularly special project. Each time they return to a character, as they do here, it requires bringing something new or different to the role depending on whether the tone of the project is dark or silly or crazy or anything else.

Warner Bros./Cartoon Network

(Photo by Warner Bros./Cartoon Network)

“When we go in to audition or we meet the team, they’ll say, you know, ‘This is really dark,’ or, ‘This is really silly,’ or, ‘This is really crazy,’” Strong said. “You have to tweak it a little bit to match the world that you’re performing in.

“We become these characters in our minds, we envision ourselves,” she continued. “You could ask these girls anything about their characters, and they’ll be able to tell you from a very organic place what they’re all about.”

With their understanding of the characters, they said the key appeal of the new DC Super Hero Girls series is their camaraderie and sense of fun.

“[They’re] these kick-ass chicks doing some pretty incredible things together,” Strong said. “Navigating friendship and superhero and teenager all wrapped up in this fun, beautiful package.”

In addition to inspiring feelings of empowerment, it also sparks nostalgia for the stars.

“This show, I think, is so much fun because we get to tap into our youth — at least that’s important to me, anyway,” Brooks said, adding, “I love that all of those different types that you went to school with in high school are represented. Everything from the more hippie, environmentally conscious to the overly theatrical girly girl, to the really shy, studious smart kid. I just feel like everybody’s going to be able to see themselves in at least one of the characters.”

DC Super Hero Girls airs Sundays at 4 p.m. on Cartoon Network.

Like this? Subscribe to our newsletter and get more features, news, and guides in your inbox every week.

Tag Cloud

Spike Certified Fresh travel APB IFC Films Ellie Kemper 4/20 Film E! A&E movie X-Men TBS dark Chernobyl ratings Family police drama cults hispanic Stephen King Comedy Central Teen cops cancelled television HBO Max romance Marathons Tubi Nat Geo Awards Video Games discovery Fantasy 72 Emmy Awards Photos teaser Academy Awards Lifetime Christmas movies National Geographic Kids & Family Polls and Games VH1 Sneak Peek Marvel Television Rock worst cars The Arrangement cats spy thriller Disney+ Disney Plus Tomatazos Pixar ITV New York Comic Con quibi Holidays Spring TV universal monsters zombies Turner Classic Movies Red Carpet fast and furious spinoff documentaries mockumentary Reality zombie Hear Us Out elevated horror Arrowverse Anna Paquin RT21 MTV Star Trek Calendar TLC free movies festivals criterion true crime book news james bond TNT Peacock psychological thriller festival political drama Drama comics Holiday sitcom superhero spanish language critics serial killer asian-american A24 FOX jamie lee curtis Countdown italian series breaking bad Syfy Film Festival FX HBO BET Crunchyroll romantic comedy batman rotten movies we love medical drama anime Heroines GoT Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt 20th Century Fox Rocky Winners PaleyFest dragons Alien First Look Binge Guide a nightmare on elm street space video on demand werewolf war cooking Lionsgate Mary poppins mutant The Witch YA Premiere Dates BAFTA south america archives halloween 2020 black Mary Poppins Returns The CW chucky casting Disney 007 natural history Best and Worst Valentine's Day dogs TruTV Pop boxoffice technology Black Mirror Cannes SDCC ID Starz Nickelodeon obituary revenge 24 frames harry potter YouTube Extras supernatural rt archives renewed TV shows Oscars Hallmark PlayStation Universal spider-man ESPN docudrama Character Guide based on movie Cartoon Network VICE Columbia Pictures Baby Yoda comedies USA Network BET Awards canceled TV shows PBS Pirates Masterpiece nfl Music indiana jones Quiz japanese cancelled TV series what to watch Opinion venice GIFs emmy awards Sundance TV Cosplay IFC Horror sag awards Pop TV Summer cancelled Epix NYCC boxing concert History DC streaming service Funimation CBS All Access Food Network golden globes Amazon Prime Video transformers robots Nominations Classic Film Song of Ice and Fire Toys FX on Hulu psycho 2017 Apple USA Netflix BBC America Fox Searchlight Paramount Network Endgame Comic Book toy story Esquire reviews TCA 2017 movies Rom-Com Discovery Channel ABC twilight reboot 2018 Sundance Now SXSW Hulu period drama versus french TV Land adaptation historical drama cancelled TV shows mission: impossible Freeform Interview Set visit FXX 2015 stop motion Reality Competition 99% Action CMT American Society of Cinematographers animated kids Television Academy 45 dramedy CBS Apple TV+ TV spanish Martial Arts halloween tv Rocketman Apple TV Plus foreign witnail nature nbcuniversal VOD DC Comics independent CW Seed TV renewals TCA Winter 2020 blockbuster OneApp christmas movies DirecTV Trailer Lucasfilm Avengers parents TCM blaxploitation The Purge Walt Disney Pictures sequels Lifetime doctor who Spectrum Originals tv talk The Academy Mindy Kaling Dark Horse Comics Pride Month Mudbound franchise Tarantino Marvel game show YouTube Premium Adult Swim thriller theme song The Walking Dead cinemax laika WarnerMedia Christmas sequel Western BBC rotten YouTube Red cartoon miniseries crime Amazon Comedy documentary TIFF President comiccon vampires composers Watching Series Trivia Disney Channel films Amazon Studios E3 hollywood Trophy Talk Elton John streaming deadpool child's play adventure name the review diversity Tumblr disaster Grammys MSNBC Animation Emmy Nominations screenings Black History Month 21st Century Fox crossover dceu Ghostbusters Musical comic ABC Family classics MCU Showtime award winner Ovation Warner Bros. TCA Awards WGN Sundance Disney Plus joker Podcast Star Wars stoner Creative Arts Emmys DC Universe RT History Superheroe Mary Tyler Moore binge 2016 Box Office zero dark thirty Britbox anthology LGBTQ Amazon Prime Musicals best Writers Guild of America Biopics children's TV football Shondaland 71st Emmy Awards video Comics on TV 2019 scary movies television Superheroes unscripted ghosts remakes Crackle sports Awards Tour Paramount Sci-Fi Country Schedule crime thriller SundanceTV Women's History Month directors Shudder See It Skip It Winter TV Infographic DGA Super Bowl worst movies HBO Go canceled comic books Year in Review Turner TCA hist satire Marvel Studios NBC singing competition Mystery Brie Larson Election Disney streaming service OWN El Rey Acorn TV Hallmark Christmas movies green book finale Television Critics Association Thanksgiving indie latino richard e. Grant Netflix Christmas movies australia strong female leads die hard LGBT Logo scorecard San Diego Comic-Con Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Fall TV toronto Captain marvel First Reviews facebook dc BBC One Emmys aliens CNN screen actors guild Fox News stand-up comedy fresh justice league Sony Pictures politics social media game of thrones Pet Sematary AMC all-time biography Bravo slashers crime drama spain GLAAD Travel Channel talk show science fiction Vudu