It was announced this week that Justice League: War would be the starting point for a new animated universe that DC Comics and Warner Bros Animation are intending to create. War is based on the Justice League comic book arc that launched the New 52, titled Origin. So how accurate is this film to the comic, does it do the book “justice”? Yes.
Justice League: War takes you to the time before any of our heroes have met, or most are even aware of each other. The movie opens with Batman and Green Lantern meeting as each one of them are separately investigating a strange creature, known to us a Parademon from Apokolips. It is believed that these creatures are placing bombs all over Gotham,;which draws both heroes to their trail. The meeting between Green Lantern and Batman goes pretty much to script and is just as entertaining the second time. Justin Kirk (Weeds) plays a snarky Hal Jordan, delivering wise-crack after wise-crack throughout the movie. The relationship between Bats and Hal is depicted well from start to finish in the movie; as the two learn to respect each other and eventually become team mates.
Jason O’Mara voices Batman, and he will also play the character in the upcoming Son of Batman, so it seems that DC has found their go-to guy for the part. I generally liked him, but all it really takes is a gruff voice to play the part; though he’s no Kevin Conroy and yet it is far better than Christian Bale. I really enjoy the parts when Batman reveals that he knows the identities of the other supers, surprising them every time he does.
I want to talk a little bit about Superman, who is voiced by Alan Tudyk of Firefly fame. I generally like the New 52 version of Supes. He is a little more badass than his pre-Flashpoint counterpart, and I am ok with that. A lot of people look down on his increased use of violence, but I think that it’s more of a matter of his overall power and what can actually be translated through film and animation. The Superman that everyone knows and loves is the Christopher Reeves version, and this is not him.
Anyone who complained about the amount of damage done or the violence present in Man of Steel should watch this movie. Why wouldn’t Superman kick the crap out of a bunch of aliens and not blast them apart with heat vision, or tear them apart with his super-strength?! I am not a firm believer that Superman doesn’t believe in killing, especially since that is more of Batman’s gig anyways. But you want to talk about brutal, watch Wonder Woman dispatch the legions of Parademons that she takes them on throughout this movie! Ripping them apart, slicing them in half, beheading them! She kicks a lot of ass and has a good time doing so; but at the same time is almost an innocent character whose demeanor is defined by her ignorance to this new world in front of her. Just like in the comics, a future relationship between Wonder Woman and Superman is definitely hinted at, but it is comical to watch the others try to impress her. I think that using this model for the character is a great way to introduce the character of Wonder Woman and should be considered when approaching the live-action movies.
The rest of the ensemble is all here. Barry Allen, the fast talking CSI agent makes his appearance as The Flash, but takes a backseat in this movie. Billy Batson aka Shazam takes the place of Aquaman which works fine, even leaving a future opportunity to do an origin story for him. The appearance of this character could be a little confusing for those not familiar with the whole Shazam mythos, but whatever, the action of the movie takes over and it is soon forgotten. The big “origin” in this movie is Cyborg and just like in the comics he is a great addition to the Justice League, basically erasing the fact that he ever was a Teen Titan.
In this continuity, he is almost killed in an explosion when the Parademons attack S.T.A.R. Labs where his father works, forcing them to fuse his body with the alien technology to save his life. What happens after that is the best aspect of the movie, making Cyborg the best part of the movie overall. The relationship between the two youngest team members, Cyborg and Shazam is well written and works well for the biggest change between the movie and the source material. The father-son relationship between Vic and his father is a little over-played, but works out well by the end of the movie when Cyborg becomes the hero his father always wanted him to be.
The villain of the movie is of course Darkseid and his army. The despot is abducting beings from all over the universe and transforming them into Parademons, all the while terraforming their planets, now it’s Earth’s turn! Darkseid is HUGE in this movie and it takes the combined effort of all the heroes to take him down. Desaad is the only other character from Apokolips to be introduced, no Granny Goodness, no Furies, no one else. It works I guess because this movie is really about introducing the Justice League and throwing in a bunch of evil or even good New Gods would probably over-complicate things. Nonetheless anytime that Darkseid is on-screen some one is getting their ass handed to them and that’s ok with me! Omega beams galore!
The Blu-ray gives us some nice special features including three documentaries, a sneak preview at the next animated movie Son of Batman, and as usual some animated episodes from past DC Comics TV shows. The docs really concentrate on Jim Lee which is a nice tribute to this superstar artist. Overall, this film is an action-packed slugfest that does the source material real justice. It is a great followup to the last film Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox and a great starting point for the animated movies to come. Speaking of that, I believe that the end credits scene definitely hints at adapting the crossover between the Justice League and Aquaman comics when the New 52 did the Throne of Atlantis crossover, but will probably fall under the Justice League realm instead of an Aquaman standalone movie. Which is fine with me, that storyline is awesome!
I give Justice League: War 8 stars outta 10.
This is NOT a film for kids, staying consistent with most of the films that have come before it, and I really like that DC and WB are continuing to deliver adult animation to its fan base!