Young Justice: Why Seasons 4's End Credits Stand Out

WARNING: The following contains spoilers for the first six episodes of Young Justice: Phantoms, now available on HBO Max.

Young Justice: Phantoms has doubled down on using every moment of screentime to continue building out its universe. As the show has evolved, the end credits have gone from a list of names viewers would skip through to bonus scenes that continue exploring the themes of the show. Last season, titled Outsiders, the credits took on a Lynchian feel, playing soft music over different still scenes from Wolf sitting by a fire to Bio-Ship juxtaposed against an average two-car garage.

With Phantoms, Young Justice has gone a step further, adding extra story beats to the runtime. These beats placed over the credits range from dialogue to one-sided conversations, and sometimes just tears. Showrunners Greg Weisman and Brandon Vietti made an intelligent choice by using this tool to tie up storylines, build out the show's universe, or kick the audience while they are down.

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Episode 1, "Inhospitable," surprised audiences with an extra scene played underneath the credits. The scene, acting almost like an epilogue to Outsiders, harkens back to the first episode of Season 3 as it features Wolf snoozing on the porch. However, what's more interesting is who sits behind him. Viewers then held off from hitting HBO Max's "play next" button to hear Dinah Lance, Black Canary and Violet Harper's conversation.

Canary kicks off the conversation by saying that Jefferson, Black Lightning and current leader of the Justice League, asked her to frequently check in on Leaguers and Outsiders' mental health. Violet has experienced a lot of trauma since she was first introduced on the show, so having her be a voice for this issue is a poignant choice. Violet opens up about Brione, last season's villain, and how his choices made her reflect on how her own choices affect her life's course. In turn, this makes her ponder Gabrielle, the person whose body she inherited, and her choices. Gabrielle practiced Islam, and while Violet does not have a connection to the faith, she wants to explore it as a way to honor her. This conversation, while not needed, was a smart addition on Weisman's part. In one minute, he manages to deepen the characters, their relationships and encourage viewers to self-reflect and be open to dialogue.

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Carrying forward with similar themes, Episode 4, "Involuntary," touches on one of the hardest aspects of mental health: grief. Moments before the episode's end credits, audiences witnessed the most gut-wrenching moments of the series so far. Superboy, Connor Kent, had taken a bomb placed by Martian terrorists into the core of the planet in an attempt to save lives from the blast. While he would usually be able to survive this, the bomb was embedded with Kryptonite.

The credits simply roll over M'gann as she weeps on the floor, barely comprehending her loss. Viewers found themselves shocked at the choice to kill Superboy, and then his simple credits device allowed audiences to take a moment to accept the creative choice and grieve right along with M'Gann.

Thankfully, not all the end credits are as emotionally heavy as the two previously mentioned. At the end of Episode 3, "Volatile," audiences glimpse a casual Superman with his boots off, looking down on Earth from the Watchtower. Superman chatting with Lois about the challenges of raising a super-powered baby is a rather enjoyable and humanizing moment after such a tense episode. Along with that, Brandon Vietti uses the moment to subtly set up Superman and Martian Manhunter's arrival on Mars in the next episode.

The change in the end credits was a strong choice on the part of the creative team behind Young Justice. With each episode having a limited runtime and so many characters to juggle, every second counts. By taking even an extra minute, audiences get to see these heroes with their defenses lowered. After seeing the humanity behind the heroics, audiences fall deeper in love with these characters and most certainly stay for the coming episodes.

To see how Young Justice: Phantoms makes the most of its credits, the first eight episodes are streaming now on HBO Max.

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j.s.sailes (6 Articles Published)

J is a TV Features writer for CBR.com! He lives on the Upper East Side in New York City. Along with writing for CBR, J is an aspiring writer for TV, Film, and stage.

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