Superman has beard, Batman is vampiric in new trailer for dark Justice League series

In advance of Monday's premiere of the animated series "Justice League: Gods and Monsters Chronicles," a new teaser gives a glimpse at one of the strangest superhero worlds yet.

Michael Franco
Freelancer Michael Franco writes about the serious and silly sides of science and technology for CNET and other pixel and paper pubs. He's kept his fingers on the keyboard while owning a B&B in Amish country, managing an eco-resort in the Caribbean, sweating in Singapore, and rehydrating (with beer, of course) in Prague. E-mail Michael.
Michael Franco
2 min read

Look -- up in the sky. It's a bird! It's a plane! It's...Superman with a goatee?

Yup, that's right. And in the just-released trailer for a new animated series called "Justice League: Gods and Monsters Chronicles," it's not only the Man of Steel's facial hair that's changed. He's also now the son of traditional House of El enemy General Zod and was raised by a Mexican family -- not the Kents on a farm in Kansas, according to Polygon.

The new series is being created through a partnership between DC, Warner Bros. and Machinima, an online producer that specializes in creating and curating gamer and fan-oriented content.

The series will consist of three shorter episodes that will be available online for free from Machinima, and is a lead-up to the eventual release of the direct-to-video film "Justice League: Gods and Monsters," which will be available for sale on July 28. You can watch the series on Machinima's YouTube channel.

In addition to Superman's remake, the other parts of the classic DC "trinity" will also get an overhaul. Wonder Woman won't be an Amazonian princess, but will appear as the daughter of Ares, the god of war. And, according to CinemaBlend, Batman is being cast as Kirk Langstrom, a character known in DC Comics as Man-Bat who created a serum that turns him into a bat after having been lost in a cave as a child -- and gives him a vampiric thirst for blood.

As you can see, the characters are expected to be darker versions than their usual do-gooder selves.

The series and film are being co-written by Bruce Timm, who introduces the trailer above. Timm co-created, produced and did many of the character designs for both "Batman: The Animated Series" and "Superman: The Animated Series."

In creating this new version of the Justice League, Timm said he was inspired by the way DC characters Flash and Green Lantern were completely reimagined in the middle of the last century.

"I thought, 'Well wouldn't it be really cool if they did the same thing that they did with the Flash and the Green Lantern in the '50s; basically keep the name and throw everything else out," he told Polygon. That got him thinking. "What would I do if I had that situation? If I had Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman to reimagine. And [Gods and Monsters] is kinda what I came up with."

In addition to having such a powerhouse of the DC animated universe behind it, "Gods and Monsters" also has some significant talent voicing the characters. Most notably, Batman will be voiced by Michael C. Hall of "Dexter" fame, and Jason Isaacs who played Lucius Malfoy in the "Harry Potter" films will lend his voice to Lex Luthor. "Law and Order" actor Benjamin Bratt will be the voice of Superman and his dad Zod.

This is the second "Gods and Monsters"-related trailer we've seen. The first, which reveals even more of the characters' personalities, can be seen below.