In perhaps the best timing in the world ever Bruce Timm has returned to DC, in slightly worse timing he has decided that the best way to announce his return is by giving us a grim dark Justice League, ‘cos yeah that’s what DC needs right now more darkness.
Okay so the story has been knocking around via web shorts and comics books. Now I’ve seen the web shorts (because they’re free and I’m cheap) but I’ve not read the comics partly because of the web shorts and partly because of the knowledge that all they are going to be is setting up the movie rather than telling a story worth reading. I also know that if the movie falls down because I haven’t read these origin stories then it would give me something to whine about on my blog. Now the shorts ranged from bleh, to possibly interesting to questionable. Wonder Woman was bleh with the only twist being acknowledgement of sex between two consenting adults in a DC cartoon, Superman was interesting due to how he handles the problem at hand and Batman was questionable as it seemed to think the solution to Harley Quinn getting less and less clothes was to go for the ultimate dark and realistic Harley Quinn and just strip her right down to her panties. Then they killed her because for some reason she was really into human taxidermy. How that was supposed to fit with the whole clown theme I’m not sure. But I’m getting distracted.
For those who have avoided all those things let’s start at the beginning. This is an alternate universe from the DC we know and I mean this in the best and, these days, most original sense. Nobody has gone back in time and changed something, nobody stood on any butterflies or has tried to make themselves grand ruler of the cosmos. In this reality things just happened differently, deal with it.
The first deals with that whole Kryptonian incubation thing which I believe was introduced in Man of Steel but I am sure to be corrected on. Rather than old Lara and Jor-el doing the nasty they are apparently all in favour of genetically growing your child in a test tube. Now in truth that might just be because this Jor-el is really unorganized and hasn’t bothered to make a baby with his wife until the planet is literally exploding. We are on the launch pad when Zod storms in shoots of his hand and decides to make the baby his own. Rather than you know taking the ship and leaving the exploding planet behind. Anyway he does this by sticking his little finger into Lara’s waiting hole. Come on now, no giggling at the back. Though considering this whole things takes less time than a Q to mate you have got to question why Jor-el hadn’t gotten around to doing it himself. Anyway thus begins our movie.
Wow I am really running out of room, we’re already five hundred words in and we’re only up to the opening credits.
Okay so Batman, Kirk Langstrum remember him? No? Well he’s a c-list Batman villain who took a serum and became a, well, Bat Man. Anyway in this reality he was still doodling round with this serum only it made him a, vampire, man but I guess Batman sounds better. He used to feed on criminals and rats until he was taken in by Superman so now he just feeds on criminals and he’s got a pension.
Wonder Woman is probably the most different with no ties to Greek Gods or Themyscira or anything you’ve probably heard of.
In this reality she is Bekka of the New Gods, most notable for being the wife of ‘Orion‘ someone you may have seen in a few of those big group shots of DC heroes. Now seen as how I am seven hundred words into this thing I am not going to try and explain who the new Gods are so the short of it is they were invented by comic book legend Jack Kirby after he left Marvel to the FF and the X-men both of which he “co”-created with Stan Lee. You know, that guy who appears in every Marvel movie ever even after the joke has run dry. Anyway, they come from ‘New Genesis’ a world twinned with the nicely titled Apokolips where Darkseid lives. Going off these names I am sure you can tell which is the “good twin”. They fight each other, often with the new Gods getting their butts handed to them giving the writers a chance to call in heroes people have actually heard of to fight him. Actually I think that’s about it.
Well in this reality the New Gods are fed up of being beaten up by Darkseid and thus decide to strike first, in turn in this reality instead of being a footnote known only to comic book geeks Bekka is Wonder Woman; wielding a boom tube equipped sword that can slice through anything.
What really? Okay a Boom Tube is a worm hole generator that allows its user to teleport all over the galaxy to any location in existence except when the plot demands that they can’t, see the end of this movie for an example of that.
This and this alone is the Justice League and due to their backgrounds they are not the nicest Justice League around, though nor are they the worst. See this isn’t the Crime Syndicate of America out to get all the gold and power, nor are they the Justice Lords enforcing a Big Brother like state for our own protection and I would argue that they aren’t so much dark as human and operating without the safety buffer of censorship.
Do you remember in t.v shows like the A-team where they would have to stop the bad guys getting away and the only feasible method for that was to shoot down their helicopter but because we couldn’t have our heroes be murderers we would have to add a shot of the people crawling out afterwards just looking a bit singed. Well this movie doesn’t have those kind of restrictions and yeah sure Batman bites people and drains their blood but ask yourself if that is any worse than the trail if literal broken bodies left in Batman’s wake in any of the Arkham games. Anyway due to their Gung-ho nature the Justice League are not very popular with President Amanda Waller nor rich scientist/ billionaire Lex Luthor who in this reality is thus different by…. having slightly more hair. I mean like Picard level more hair not Jesse Eisenberg level more hair. That would just be stupid. Oh and he’s voiced by Jason Issacs, best known for being Lucius Malfoy and a meme put out by Radio five though why I’m not sure as *spoiler* he doesn’t really get to do anything in this movie, they could have had the pizza delivery guy voice him and nobody would have noticed due to the amount of lines he gets.
Now this fragile peace between the “League” and the government is put to the test when somebody starts framing them for various murders throughout the world.
Now the League must figure out who is killing these people; somebody who looks like Batman Beyond on steroids and what their victims have in common; apart from the fact that it is every DC comic character ever created with anything above a P.H.D, in order to find out who is behind it; which I shall of course not be telling you.
Now this movie takes place in an alternative timeline and there is no link to the mainstream universe so while it’s doubtful many casual comic book fans will pick up the references they aren’t super necessary. Likewise the nods are nice and clear to people who do get them without feeling too out of place or beating you around the head, such as Victor Fries studying in the cold icy north and Will Magnus having a robot helper called tin, though here he looks more like Twiki from Buck Rogers. Though special mention might have to go to Ray Palmer and his plan to make his fortune selling miniaturised horses, that’s miniaturised not miniature.
Similar to anyone trying to read Countdown I would say don’t worry too much about the references and just try to enjoy yourself. You can always go through the wiki later.
The art is decent, though you know what to expect of Bruce Timm by now. Thankfully whether due to time or budget we’re past the age where everyone looks the same. Seriously I can tell Trevor, Batman and Supes apart without looking at their haircuts though don’t expect miracles. The cast is decent and the parts are good for people we’ve never met before. Batman and Wonder Woman get the focus and only one of those is related to the plot.
This isn’t the best DC Animated movie put out but it is far from the worst and I would much rather see a series based on this than the new 52.