I was a big comics fan just a few years ago. I didn’t really have a strong preference between DC Comics or Marvel. My love for both companies were pretty much the same. The stories that they told were fascinating and always brought out the child in me. The operative word here, sadly is loved. I don’t know what happened but there was one day when I woke up and I realized that I stopped collecting comics. I couldn’t say specifically when that happened; I just stopped.
And a lot of things have happened when I stopped. The Avengers film made big money in the box office. Spider-Man “died.” The Avengers fought the X-Men. But the biggest thing that happened soon after I stopped buying comics was DC Comics rebooting the entire universe after the Flashpoint event. The New 52 was something I was interested in actually starting but I never got around to doing it.
So, when it was announced that the latest DC Animated Movie would be a retelling of the Justice League: Origin from the New 52 universe, I was kind of wary. This would be my first encounter with the new timeline. Was it going to be something I would enjoy?
I’m happy to say. yes! Justice League: War is a great movie and one of my favorite direct-to-video films produced. However, only comic book fans will like this one… but you don’t have to know the New 52 story to get into it.
Justice League: War tells the story of how the big heroes of the DC Universe had to band together to face off against the invading forces of Darkseid. As the heroes have only been “working” for a year or so, they haven’t really made contact with each other… and they never had the need to go outside their respective areas until now.
The first thing I have to mention would be the animation and art style. Fans of the cancelled Young Justice cartoon will be familiar with the overall look of the characters and world since it seems like they used the same animators for this movie. I personally loved the Young Justice look so I’m extremely pleased with this development.
The story is, well, definitely not Shakespeare. There’s a shockingly lack of story in Justice League: War. Roughly only the first 20 to 25 minutes of the film’s 80 minute run-time is devoted to introducing the characters and setting up the scene. After that, it’s pretty much action, action and more action! I loved how they didn’t waste that much time with introducing the characters since, well, I’m already familiar with the basics of the characters, New 52 or otherwise.
However, I don’t think people who aren’t that familiar with the characters will know who they are. I remember my mother was passing by while I was watching this and she asked me who the guy in the robot armor and “Superman in the red suit” was. Obviously, they were Cyborg and Captain Marvel/Shazam. But, since she has no knowledge who they are (she’s pretty familiar with the Silver Age heroes), she needed more than a quick introduction to who they were.
This brings me to my first issue with the film: the exclusion of Aquaman. While I like Shazam and his gimmick, I don’t think he was really needed here. I mean, we already have Superman, right? I also think that, in the comics, Shazam wasn’t even in the story. It turns out he replaced the King of Atlantis for the film. I kind of found it insulting since he was included in the comic story already; why remove him from the film adaption?
I do love how they portrayed Shazam, though, with the enthusiasm and naivety of a kid since he really is one. Hal Jordan/Green Lantern comes off as an insecure hotshot, which seems appropriate. Batman is… Batman so that’s good. Wonder Woman is fine as well, being a little bit too eager to go into battle without a plan (but suits the warrior schtick she has). Superman is also fun to watch but he is kind of a dick here (but understandable since he knows he’s the most powerful being on the planet).
My main problem with the cast would be The Flash and Cyborg. With The Flash, it’s more of a lack of screen time. He’s just there and doesn’t do much. He also doesn’t talk that much so it’s hard for me to get an impression on how he is in the film. But it was what they did with Cyborg that irked me. He was just a crybaby with daddy issues.
The voice acting is also a bit hit and miss. The standouts are definitely the voice actors of Green Lantern, Batman and Shazam. The rest were not really terrible but also not good. With Wonder Woman, you can almost detect that she’s just a voice actress. Her voice didn’t seem to come from Wonder Woman. Superman’s tone was also just a tad off for me.
The action definitely makes up for these shortcomings. Like I said, after 25 minutes of story, it’s action sequence after action sequence with a little character development sprinkled in between. The fight scenes are incredibly exciting to watch! It’s like, just when you think the fights can’t get any crazier, they still manage to top it afterwards!
Overall, Justice League: War is a great film that any modern comic book fan should watch. It’s pretty hard to beat non-stop action combined with great animation. Go watch this when you get the chance!
Oh, by the way, taking a cue from Marvel movies, there is a short mid-credits scene after the movie ends! I hope they do follow up this movie with the sequel that’s hinted in that short scene!
Have you watched Justice League: War? What did you think about it? Let me know your thoughts in the comments section below!