Teased at the end of The Flashpoint Paradox, the next DC animated feature, Justice League War, shows the Justice League in action for the first time. With only three released a year, these animated features are a treat. Through and through this is an action movie, featuring some of the best choreography and animation yet. While eye candy abounds, the real question is, does it a tell a solid story?
Based on Geoff Johns and Jim Lee’s inaugural New 52 tale, we see the members of the Justice League met for the first time, forced to work together to combat an impending invasion from Darkseid. For the most part, the movie follows the source material, with only a few minor changes. The biggest being Captain Marvel Shazam replacing Aquaman. Aside from that, this is straight up action movie.
All the characters are introduced to varying degrees. Green Lantern and Batman are given the most screen time to establish themselves, playing off each other. These were easily the funniest scenes in the movie. Vic Stone pre-robo makeover was also shown, sticking with the comic book story line. Wonder Woman was also given a quick introduction, apparently fresh from the island. With all these character intros, I began to worry that the movie was going to be overstuffed. Wisely, the writers choose to have Billy Batson already possessing the power of Shazam, as this would be one origin too many.
With all these characters being established, someone was bound to get the short end of the stick. The Flash and Superman were not given the amount of screen time needed to show who they were. Granted, half of that equations is world renowned, not needing an introduction. Still, it stuck out awkwardly compared to the rest. And holy shoulder muscles Superman. The lacking character development was to make way for the punch fest. That is what superheroes do, punch things, but that’s all this had to offer. While it was shown with some of the slickest animation in one of these features yet, it still left me wanting more.
A few things stuck out, detracting from the experience a bit. The first act chase with Batman tethered to a Parademon looked horrible. Moving 2-D characters through 3-D environments doesn’t translate well in animation. It’s 2014, this hasn’t looked good since Spider-Man did it in 1994. Can we stop with this? Darkseid’s voice, portrayed by Steve Blum, was modified beyond all recognition. I get they wanted him to sound imposing, but I couldn’t understand half of what he was saying. And why was he a freaking giant? He’s always been shown to be slightly bigger than Superman, but not Iron Giant big. And the Parademons being sucked into the portals looked laughable, as they were all the same model rotated on different axes.
Many thought it was odd to follow Flashpoint with this tale, as Flashpoint was the last DC story and this as the first tale for the New 52. Some joked that they would only cover New 52 stories now. While the next two features are pre-New 52 Batman centric, this teased a future project. Orm, the Ocean Master, appeared at the end, declaring war on the surface world for killing the Atlantean king when all of Darkseid’s garbage fell into the ocean. The Atlantean war was the next big DC JL story. Guess the joke was half true.
The overall quality of these features has slipped. While they were clearly leaning more on the hit side than miss, the last few features have left me wanting. This is a miss for me. All flash and no substance. Not their worst offering, but certainly not their best. This was to mark their new continuity, with every tale forward working in conjunction canonically. I don’t care for this iteration of the characters, and am less hopeful about the future.
Too much action or just right? Was character development lacking for you? Comment below!
I hate typing New 52.