Legion of Super Heroes is an American animated television series produced by Warner Bros. Animation that debuted on September 23, 2006, based on characters appearing in the DC Comics series. The series centers on the young Superman's adventures in the 31st century, fighting alongside a group of futuristic superheroes known as the "Legion of Super-Heroes". The show is produced by its main designer James Tucker (a co-producer of the Justice League Unlimited series) for the Kids' WB line on the The CW network.
According to the official press release, the premise of the first season is that a group of teenagers from the 31st century travel back in time to recruit Superman in their fight against evil in their time. Unfortunately, they go too far back and land in a time when Clark Kent was younger and was about to move to Metropolis, already aware of his powers but undecided about his destiny. Taking him back to their future, the young Superman helps the Legion in fighting evil and upholding the laws of the United Planets. It is described as a "fast-paced, character-driven action comedy".
The series draws on the rich history of the Legion of Super-Heroes, taking inspiration from stories set during all time periods of the comic's nearly 50-year history. Continuity is internally consistent, but is not shared with any previous incarnation of the Legion, either animated or in print.
A total of 26 episodes have been produced to date, 13 each for Season 1 and Season 2.
Early reports had suggested the title of the series would be Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes, but the official announcement on April 24, 2006 confirmed the title as Legion of Super Heroes. The same announcement indicated that the series would air on the Kids' WB block of the new The CW network at 10 a.m. Eastern.
At the 2006 Comic Con International, the production staff would not officially say whether current legal issues involving the ownership of Superboy had impacted this series, or whether changes were made to tie in with the Superman Returns movie, but one significant change had been made since the original announcements. The original press release said that the Legion landed in the time of "the young Superboy", while the revised press release description (June 2006) said that the Legion retrieved "the young Superman, before he moved to Metropolis". At the conclusion of the pilot episode, Clark adopts the codename of Superman, and not Superboy.
In Season 2, which takes place two years after the end of Season 1, the character is called Superman, without reference to his "young" status.
A "backdoor" pilot for a Supergirl and the Legion of Super-Heroes series was written and animated for the series in the form of the 2006 JLU episode "Far From Home" by Paul Dini and Dwayne McDuffie. However, the Legion series is unrelated to "Far From Home" or the 1998 episode of Superman: The Animated Series titled "New Kids in Town" (which did share continuity between series and episodes). Beginning 2006, DC Comics did in fact have Supergirl join the Legion in its comic book.
According to a KidsWB press release, "the second season of Legion of Super Heroes finds the group fulfilling their collective destiny, each member elevating his skills to new levels... just in time to face even greater challenges. A incomprehensibly undefeatable nemesis — Imperiex, the destroyer of galaxies from the rich annals of DC Comics — puts the Legion into action alongside new team members. Superman returns from the 21st century with greater development of both his physical prowess and far better utilization of his powers to help the Legion toward victory in the 31st century and beyond. Moreover, the Legion finds a surprising, new ally from across the space-time continuum — a 41st century Superman, cloned from the original Superman with alien DNA added to the mix for new, enhanced powers — to assist in its efforts to rid the universe of this powerful foe. Along the way, the LoSH — including new members like Chameleon Boy — provides the perfect complement of heroics and comedy to the efforts of the Supermen."
The second season has a much darker and more mature tone than the first season and mostly focuses on Brainiac 5 and his relationship with his evil ancestor, the original Brainiac. In the second season, most of the Legionnaires have changed their appearances, e.g., Lightning Lad has longer hair and gets a robotic arm. Their appearances change based on the two years without Superman after he left in the episode "Sundown Pt.2", which is the finale of the first season. Triplicate Girl changes her codename to Duo Damsel because one of her bodies (the White Body) is lost in a temporal anomaly during one of their 41st Century's battles. The series logo was also slightly revised. As with the first season, a total of 13 episodes were created for the second season, which premiered on September 22, 2007. The show was not renewed for a third season.
A third season had been planned for production but was dropped because the Kids' WB! slot was taken over by 4Kids. The third season was intended to take place three years after the end of the second season in which an older Superman would return. Sensor, Wildfire, Magnetic Kid, Supergirl, Tellus, Princess Projectra and Shadow Lass were to be introduced, while background characters Blok and Dawnstar would have active roles. Ferro Lad's twin brother was intended to appear and Kell-El was intended to be a regular character but with a reduced role. The main focus of the third season would have been Brainiac 5's return, while trying to redeem himself after the second season's finale and the evil Brainiac 6 trying to destroy the Legion. The final episode of season two linked the two seasons together