If there’s one thing moviegoers can look forward to when it comes to superhero films, it’s the abundance of cameos they will get to see. We have seen characters show up in small bit parts as a service to the comic book fans in the audience, like when Carol Ferris showed up in Man of Steel or when Victor Zsasz was in in The Dark Knight. There are also times when actors from previous adaptations show up in guest roles, like when Lou Ferrigno played a security guard in the Hulk movies or that time Rebecca Romijn was in X-Men: First Class. Comic book fans are also always on the lookout for the next Stan Lee appearance.
Despite how often cameos involve live action film, it hasn’t stopped creators from adding a few surprises in animation as well. Watch through cartoons based on DC Comics characters, and you’ll spot many secret appearances hidden within the frames that you may have missed the first time through. Whether it’s a character hiding in the background ora reference you may not have picked up on, there are plenty of secrets waiting to be discovered. Here are 15 DC cartoon cameos you totally missed.
15 SUPER FRIENDS IN YOUNG JUSTICE
In the Young Justice episode “Runaways,” the show introduces a group of kids who escape from STAR Labs after undergoing tests on their powers. The four characters each have a different power and seem to have a unique identity and ethnicity. If you squint and tilt your head a bit, it’s easy to see that each of the kids correspond to one of the characters introduced in the Super Friends cartoon.
Tye Longshadow, Asami Koizumi and Eduardo Dorado are updated versions of Apache Chief, Samurai, and El Dorado from the ‘70s cartoon. Young Justice replaces Black Vulcan with Virgil Hawkins, aka Static, but the parallels between the two groups are impossible to ignore. The group makes several appearances in the second season, and meet the Young Justice team.
14 THE BAT FAMILY IN THE SAVAGE TIME
Ever wonder why Justice League never used characters from Batman: The Animated Series? At the time, those characters were off limits to Bruce Timm because The Batman television series had first dibs on them. It led to a lot of rewrites during the production phase of the show because they kept learning that the characters they wanted were no longer on the table.
This didn’t stop Timm and company from secretly adding the Batman Family into the show, though. In the 2002 episode “The Savage Time,” Vandal Savage alters the timeline and created a world taken over by Nazis. In a scene that showed Batman’s resistance fighters, we see a group of kids who look just like Dick Grayson, Barbara Gordon, Tim Drake and Cassandra Cain. The creators later confirmed that this was intentional.
13 BOOSTER GOLD IN LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES
The short-lived Legion of Super-Heroes cartoon series took place in the far future, but the show made several references to the roots of the DC Universe in the present day. In the pilot episode “Man of Tomorrow,” the team takes a young Clark Kent into the future so he can see what kind of a hero he becomes and how the legacy of Superman has affected the future.
In one scene, the team takes Clark to a Superman monument in the 31st Century where we see Booster Gold and his robotic companion, Skeets, working as janitors. Sure, Booster Gold comes from the 25th Century, but as a noted time traveler, he could go anywhere. The weird thing is that he would travel all that way just to become a janitor. In actuality, of course, this is a callback to the character's origins, though he was a night watchmen, not a janitor.
12 THE SEVEN SOLDIERS OF VICTORY IN JLU
The Justice League Unlimited episode “Patriot Act” was jam packed with secrets that only true comic book fans would pick up on. Biggest of all was the fact that the Justice League sent a team called the Seven Soldiers of Victory into battle that has its roots in the Golden Age of comics. While the show never uses their name, the characters together should be familiar to the comic book historians out there.
Green Arrow leads a team of the Crimson Avenger, Shining Knight, Speedy, Stargirl, S.T.R.I.P.E. and Vigilante, who together represent the Seven Soldiers of Victory. Stargirl was added in order to stand in for the Star-Spangled Kid, and Stripesy was in his S.T.R.I.P.E. armor, but other than that, the whole team is there.
11 BATMAN '66 VILLAINS IN PRISON
Batman: The Brave and the Bold was a callback to a more whimsical time in the life of Batman as seen in the television series from the ‘60s. It shouldn’t be surprising, then, that the show had cameo appearances for a bunch of villains from the Adam West series.
In the episode “Day of the Dark Knight,” Batman and Green Arrow team up to thwart a prison break, and many of the faces in the crowd should be familiar. The Batman television series from the ‘60s created several of its own villains, and you can see them here in cartoon form. Louie the Lilac, Marsha, Queen of Diamonds, The Siren, Mad Hatter, The Archer, Bookworm, Clock King, King Tut, Ma Parker, Black Widow, Shame, False Face and Egghead can all be seen fighting the Caped Crusader.
10 RAVEN’S ROOM IN TEEN TITANS GO
Fans of Teen Titans remember that Raven was always the dark one when it came to the Titans team. Teen Titans Go cranked the spooky and gothic elements of her character up to 11 and gave us a few great cameos. In the show, Raven’s room is known to contain all kinds of weird things, including the appearance of several demonic characters.
Most notably, Raven has proven to be a fan of some of the magical heroes within the DC Universe. She has pictures on her wall of Zatanna and Etrigan the Demon that she seemingly drew herself and hung up over her bed. We have also seen a portrait of Ra’s al Ghul hanging up in her room, as well as an Etrigan statue on her nightstand.
9 BEPPO THE SUPER MONKEY IN SUPERMAN
During the Silver Age of comics, Superman gained a large cast of super-powered pets, including Krypto the Superdog, Streaky the Supercat, Comet the Superhorse, and Beppo the Super Monkey. While Krypto has remained active through the years in comics and animation, the others have mostly fallen into ambiguity.
The 1997 episode “Monkey Fun” from Superman: The Animated Series gave us insight into the childhood of Lois Lane. As a kid, Titano the chimpanzee came to live with the Lanes at their home. He was shown to have an affinity for a monkey toy called Beppo, which is a reference to the Super Monkey. When Titano returns to Earth as a giant ape, Lois uses Beppo to tame the beast and stop his rampage across Metropolis.
8 ARROWETTE IN YOUNG JUSTICE
The Young Justice comic book series focused on a small group of young heroes attempting to make something of themselves, despite their age. The team was made up of Robin, Superboy, Wonder Girl, Impulse, Secret and Empress, but other characters joined them as well. Cissie King-Jones also joined the team as the superhero Arrowette.
While the Young Justice television show has very little in common with the comic, it does contain an appearance of Arrowette in the episode “Insecurity.” In the episode, her and her father are saved from the Black Spider by Green Arrow and Artemis. She’s never named, but comic book writer Peter David has confirmed that this was Cissie. Word is she will appear as Arrowette when the show returns with Season 3.
7 NIGHTWING IN BLUDHAVEN
Despite the show’s inability to use Batman’s supporting characters during the run on Justice League, the creators managed to get around this little inconvenience in the episode “Grudge Match” by giving Nightwing a quick cameo appearance. The character would have been a great addition to the JLU roster, but this small reference is better than nothing.
Black Canary, Huntress, Hawkgirl and Wonder Woman travel to Bludhaven in order to take on Roulette and her underground meta-human fight ring. Given their location, it would be a crime to not get an appearance from the city’s personal protector. The Justice League creators did manage to get him into the episode in the form of a silhouetted figure above the skyline. It’s never explicitly stated who this is, but comic book fans can jump to their own conclusions.
6 DAN TURPIN IS JACK KIRBY
Dan Turpin was a character developed by Jack Kirby as part of his New Gods epic. He’s a tough cop who patrols the streets of Metropolis, so he was an easy addition to the cast of Superman: The Animated Series in order to fill the same role held by James Gordon in Batman: The Animated Series.
The thing about Turpin in this continuity is that he was drawn to look exactly like Jack Kirby, instead of his comic book depiction. To this end, when Turpin dies in the 1998 episode “Apokolips Now!," his funeral serves as a funeral for Kirby as well. The creators of the show hide a few cameos during the funeral, including Bruce Timm and even Stan Lee as the Funky Flashman.
5 GRANT MORRISON’S BAT VILLAINS
During Grant Morrison’s run on the Batman comic book series, he introduced many new villains into the character’s mythos. Just as Morrison was influenced by Batman: The Brave and the Bold to create the Batman Incorporated book, so too was the show influenced by Morrison in the episode “The Knights of Tomorrow.” Many of Morrison’s original creations appear in the episode.
The episode shows Batman’s future, where Dick Grayson takes on the mantle of the Dark Knight and Damian Wayne becomes the new Robin. The duo fights a plethora of villains that were created by Morrison, including the villains in the Black Glove, Professor Pyg and Flamingo. Based on the plot of the episode, it seems to be an adaptation of Morrison’s “Batman Reborn” storyline.
4 THE REBOOT LEGION IN SUPERMAN
The Legion of Super-Heroes hold a special role within the Superman mythos. When the young Clark Kent was growing up in Smallville and just discovering his powers, the Legion came to him and helped him embrace his future as a superhero. In Superman: The Animated Series, we see Power Boy, Saturn Girl, and Chameleon Boy travel to the past in order to stop Brainiac from killing Clark Kent.
While only the three Legionnaires show up in Smallville, we do eventually get a look at the extended team still in the future. Most fans would be able to recognize the classic version of the Legion, but in 1994, DC Comics rebooted the team and changed some things. It’s this version that we see in “New Kids in Town,” where Andromeda is present and Triplicate Girl wears her Triad costume.
3 JASON TODD IN TEEN TITANS
Because of Jason Todd’s brutal death in the comics, superhero cartoons haven’t exactly rushed to adapt the character. He’s usually ignored or simply hinted at, but the Teen Titans at least brought him up a few times. When the team is investigating the identity of Red X, Beast Boy creates a graphic on his possible identity, featuring an angry Jason Todd. Red X also wears a Jason Todd mask at one point, too.
In the Teen Titans Go series, Jason Todd isn’t really brought up, but his existence is hinted at for those eagle-eyed fans out there. Batman keeps souvenirs from his adventures, including Hush’s bandages, Mr. Freeze’s head, and Joker’s Red Hood helmet. On the same shelves is an urn labeled “Robin II,” a clear reference to Todd’s death. Next to it is the likely crowbar that took his life.
2 JUSTICE SOCIETY IN YOUNG JUSTICE
The team of teen heroes in Young Justice are watched over by the android Red Tornado. In the episode “Humanity,” we learn about his vast history on Earth-16, which seems to combine his Earth-1 and Earth-2 history. He began his superhero career as a member of the Justice Society of America, the precursor to the current Justice League of America.
We get a quick view of his adventures during World War II and a picture of Red Tornado being accepted as a member of the JSA. In this photo are JSA members Green Lantern, Doctor Fate, Flash, Sandman and Wildcat. It’s a cool little cameo for a team that served as the inspiration for the JLA in the first place. Too bad we didn’t get to see more of them in action.
1 KEVIN SMITH IN DOOMSDAY
We all know about Kevin Smith’s connection to Superman at this point. In the ‘90s, Smith was hired by Warner Bros to write the screenplay for Superman Lives, the studio’s attempt to revive the Superman film series. While the project didn’t work out, it’s remembered today due to producer Jon Peters’ insistence that Superman should fight a giant mechanical spider in the final act.
Fast forward to 2007, when Superman: Doomsday was released as the first in the line of DC Universe Animated Original Movies. The story of the film is a condensed version of the "Death and Return of Superman" storyline. At one point, Superman fights Toyman in his mechanical suit of armor. In the crowd is a man that looks like Kevin Smith, and is even voiced by the man himself, who scoffs at the idea of Superman fighting a giant mechanical spider.
Did you catch any other cameos in DC cartoons? Let us know in the comments!