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Batman the Animated Series was doing well but eventually ended in 1995. As well, Superman the Animated Series started up in 1996 with a similar but streamlined art design and when The New Batman Adventures arrived in 1997 (explicitly a continuation of the prior series) a decision was made to simplify many character designs. This was a controversial move; some characters were redrawn to more closely match their comic counterparts and to correspond to their original intentions of the creators (the Penguin, in particular, returned to his comic book look of a tuxedo-clad-gangster rather than the deformed model inspired by Batman Returns), at the same time other characters lost distinctive and iconic parts of their appearance, like The Joker's red lips and eyes, which the creators later admitted was an artistic mistake. Supporting characters were also redrawn, including Commissioner Gordon, and his new gaunt look made many fans believe that he was suffering from some sort of debilitating disease.
With a Batman and Superman show airing simultaneously, the inevitable crossover occurred with World's Finest, which teamed Batman and Superman against the Joker and Lex Luthor, and the switch in art style made the cross much easier. A unified artstyle also greatly helped many of the DC Animated Universe shows later, which were either direct spinoffs of existing shows or discreetly and directly tied together.
The DCAU is sometimes referred to as the "Timmverse" (after character designer Bruce Timm) or the "Diniverse" (after writer Paul Dini). Some purists contest "Timmverse" is more appropriate, as Bruce Timm has been the most consistent creative force in the various shows than Paul Dini, who left before the end of it. Rather more to the point, Dini is a writer, not a character designer. Timm, who is a character designer, is the one responsible for the "standard DCAU art style". On the other hand, the writing of the DCAU is as notable as the art, plus the name is catchier (having three syllables and all). On the OTHER hand, Paul Dini was just the foremost of several writers and worked for Alan Burnett, who thus technically has more to do with the managing of the DCAU than Dini does.
The debate continues. Though it must be noted that "Diniverse" is a lot more fun to say.
It is generally accepted that the DCAU includes:
- Batman the Animated Series / The New Batman Adventures
- Superman the Animated Series
- Batman Beyond
- The Zeta Project - Spun off from Batman Beyond
- Lobo: The Web Series
- Static Shock - via Retcon (Superman was a fictional character in early episodes)
- Justice League and Justice League Unlimited
Video Games based on the DCAU:
- Batman: The Animated Series
- The Adventures of Batman and Robin
- Superman 64
- Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker
- Batman: Chaos in Gotham
- Batman: Gotham City Racer
- Batman: Vengeance
- Superman: Shadows of Apokolips
- Justice League: Injustice for All
- Superman: Countdown to Apokolips
- Batman: Rise of Sin Tzu
- Justice League: Chronicles
The DCAU has ended production with the final episode of Justice League Unlimited, and at this point no plans are made to do more series in it. However, its influence continues to this day both in Comics and Western Animation, and due to the distinct art style of the 'verse (aka Timm Style) being applied to later animated adaptations of The DCU, other properties are frequently and incorrectly cited as part of the DCAU.