Following Superman: Doomsday, DC’s next animate release adapted Darwyn Cooke’s DC: The New Frontier. The book, capturing a pure Silver Age essence, told an amazing story, featuring many DC mainstays in lead or supporting roles. With such reverence for the source material, the chance to alienate fans was high. Being the second film in the line, it was a dangerous tightrope to walk. How well did they succeed? Spoilers, they’ve made about 20 of these so, quite well.
The story featured many Justice League mainstays, but mostly centered on Hal Jordan (David Boreanaz – Angel, Buffy the Vampire Slayer), pre-ring. Superman (Kyle MachLachlan), Batman (Jeremy Sisto), the Martian Manhunter (Miguel Ferrer), Wonder Woman (Lucy Lawless), the Flash (Neil Patrick Harris), and others, all made appearances, but were largely supporting roles, save for perhaps the Manhunter. The story is set during the 1950’s with the world is changing after the end of the Korean War.
Darwyn Cooke’s amazing art in the comic easily captures the feel of the Silver Age. This is very much a story set in that era, albeit without the perpetual optimism of comics from the time, chum. Cooke brings in real world concerns and fears, addressing racism, Communism, the Cold War, and more. This was also the era when these characters made the most sense. Everyone fit together, with nary an anachronism to be seen. The art, the biting reality, and the setting all work together flawless. The movie captures every one of these elements perfectly.
Every actor did an exceptional job filling their role. Make no mistake, the Silver Age incarnation of these characters is very different from the modern ones, post-Crisis that is, and further different still post-New 52. This Hal Jordan is confident, but humbled as well, not coming across conceded. Batman, though dark and brooding, acknowledges when he requires assistance. All of this is perfectly conveyed through their voices.
Of course, story beats needed to be removed, though the comic series only ran for 6 issues. Some elements seemed out of place, like John Henry Irons, lacking the proper setup, as did a few character choices. It’s difficult to say if these would be readily apparent to someone who hasn’t read the source material, but definitely not a detractor.
Justice League: The New Frontier stands as one of DC Animation’s finest adaptations, even today, with over 20 films in their catalog. The Silver Age essence is perfectly embodied as Darwyn Cooke’s art is brought to life. Eschewing the modern interpretations of the characters, this tells a wonderful tale in the spirit that they were always meant to be.
Who was your favorite character in the film? Was there bits lost in translation? Comment below!
Love me some NPH.