Young Justice made its HBO Max debut in the fall with a Phantoms season that is taking the story in a different direction than ever before. The show has always gone through changes from season to season, with developments ranging from time jumps to character deaths to even heroes adopting new identities, as with the case of Dick Grayson’s Robin becoming Nightwing. Young Justice: Phantoms – a.k.a. Season 4 – has split the story up into arcs centered on the original members of the team for an emotional and action-packed ride so far. Co-showrunner Brandon Vietti spoke with CinemaBlend about defying expectations for the HBO Max audience.
Season 4 kicked off with an arc set on Mars centered on M’Gann, Conner, and Beast Boy, which came to a tragic end for Superboy. The second arc has been all about Artemis, while also introducing a non-Killing Joke backstory for Barbara Gordon, filling in some blanks for Orphan, and building on Artemis’ relationship with Jade. There are more arcs to come, and when I spoke with showrunners Brandon Vietti and Greg Weisman, Vietti shared how he would pitch the show (and fourth season in particular) to viewers:
For Brandon Vietti and Greg Weisman, “Day 1” was quite a long time ago. Young Justice originally premiered all the way back in 2010 on Cartoon Network and was cancelled after two seasons in 2013. Fans were left wondering what would happen after the major twists of the Season 2 finale for years until the show made its long-awaited return via the DC Universe streaming service for Season 3. Then, over two years later and following the end of DC Universe, Young Justice finally returned for Phantoms on HBO Max with another (albeit shorter) time jump.
The passage of time has always been a big part of the show, to the point that the dates are actually included in episodes. The return of Young Justice after the initial cancellation really allowed the show to embrace and retell some well-known DC Comics stories, with a take on The Judas Contract in Season 3 and now an origin story for Oracle that didn’t involve the Joker paralyzing her as part of a plot about her dad. Throw in the hints about the death of the second Robin and possible appearance of Jason Todd in Season 3, and Young Justice may deliver a new take on that famous comics story as well in Phantoms.
Brandon Vietti continued to explain why the show can be a fit for a variety of fans, with a comparison to the Harry Potter books:
Young Justice is certainly darker with the older characters in Season 4 than it was back in Season 1, and the death of Conner continues to affect the story. Artemis has struggled to deal with the loss of the friend who was like a brother to her, particularly with knowing how M’Gann feels after losing Wally herself all those years ago. The show will wrap her arc, and there are still others on the way: centered on Zatanna, Kaldur, Rocket, and of course Nightwing.
New episodes of Young Justice: Phantoms release on Thursdays on HBO Max, where you can also find the full first three seasons streaming, in case you haven’t watched yet or are just in the mood for a rewatch as the 2021 broadcast TV season winds down.
Resident of One Chicago, Bachelor Nation, and Cleveland. Has opinions about crossovers, Star Wars, and superheroes. Will not time travel.