Growing up, I used to read a lot of Legion of Super-Heroes comics from the Silver Age. For some reason, my mother’s family had a lot of classic DC Comics just littered all around their house. A lot of them are in bad shape but don’t worry! Most of them are reprinted issues made here in the Philippines and not the originals. Anyway, while I did love the Legion of Super-Heroes comics, I always thought they were kind of overpowered as they seem to have a someone in their roster with the right power when needed. Still, they were a lot of fun because they were all teenagers, which really appealed to me.
Anyway, the Legion of Super-Heroes popularity has fallen by the wayside since the Silver Age but it is nice to see DC hasn’t forgotten about them as they’ve popped in here and there. Their latest appearance is from the most recent DC animated movie set in the Tomorrowverse timeline. I did get a chance to rent it and, as a sort of fan of the team, I have to say I’m really disappointed with it.
Although this DC animated movie has been out for a while, I haven’t seen a lot of buzz around it. So, I’m still making this a SPOILER FREE review. Just letting you all know just in case you do choose to see it… despite the pretty bad SPOILER FREE review I’m about to give.
Legion of Super-Heroes focused on Supergirl. Because she has had a hard time adjusting to the primitive way of life in the 21st century, Superman sends her to the 31st century to train with the Legion of Super-Heroes. It seems like her transfer is just at the right time as there is a threat looming on the horizon and they would need someone as strong as Supergirl to help overcome it.
Let me start with the biggest positive I have for Legion of Super-Heroes: the art style is really nice. The Tomorrowverse, starting with Superman: Man of Tomorrow, always used such clean lines for their characters and I really like it. They also use very vibrant colors and, while at times I do wish they used more shading to highlight the way people and objects are lit, it’s nice that everything is super clear.
Unfortunately, while the art style is great, the art direction for the entire Tomorrowverse, including this film, needs a whole lot of work. Locations look homogeneous and it makes it hard to get a feel of where people are. For example, Supergirl is trying to live a normal life in the 21st century but all the buildings look very futuristic! So, when she does eventually move to the 31st century to train with the Legion of Super-Heroes, it doesn’t look like she went to the future! A little more diversity in the looks of the time periods would’ve been appreciated.
The animation here also comes off as very uneven. There are times when things are animated beautifully with a lot of attention to detail given in even the smallest things. Things like Supergirl’s hair and cape fluttering about gracefully in the wind and everything, even during the action scenes, move really fluidly. It’s when things are static when the problems arise. It’s almost like DC shaved off the animation budget because the characters just move their mouths while the rest of their bodies are frozen like statues! Then they blink every few seconds, making it look like they took a tumble and fell deep into the uncanny valley. I guess it’s fine if you don’t focus too much on the animation but, if you’re a stickler for details, it can be unnerving.
The overall writing done for Legion of Super-Heroes is also pretty awful. The plot is very cookie cutter. You can pretty much predict what’s going to happen because you’ve seen this kind of story before several times. The writers try to throw you a couple of curveballs but you can see the twists coming from a mile away. Most of the secondary characters simply don’t have enough, well, character. I know it’s hard to give every person something to do, especially in a film with this many characters and one that has a fairly short 83-minute runtime, including credits and post-credits scene. But I just didn’t care for any of them. I guess you kind of like Mon El as he’s the first Legion member you see. The rest of the other Legion members, however? I didn’t care if any one of them died or not.
The voice acting is also a mixed bag. The most consistent performances come from Yuri Lowenthall’s Mon El and Robbie Daymond’s TimberWolf. I will say Darren Criss’ Superman feels much better here as his soft spoken voice does make him sound like someone who would rather not fight if given a chance. Jason Ackles’ Batman is also really good here as well.
The main performers, unfortunately, don’t really hold up. Meg Donnelly’s take on Supergirl is okay for the most part but gets wonky during the times when she has to act all sassy or dramatic as it doesn’t sound natural. Brainiac 5 is voiced by Harry Shum Jr and I just didn’t like his take on the character. It’s weird as he makes Brainiac 5 sound winy and just plain unappealing. Then again, it’s kind of hard to blame any of the voice actors here because the lines they have to say come off as really unnatural sounding. There will be things like Supergirl yelling at her foe that Superman is her cousin or Brainiac 5 stating his origins without being prompted. No one talks like that!
I can’t recommend Legion of Super-Heroes. Despite the really good looking animation style and flowing movement, the story is just plain bad. This is one case where the bad clearly outweighs the good points. Give this a big old pass.
Have you seen Legion of Super-Heroes? Better question: do you think DC’s Tomorrowverse is good or bad? Let me know in the comments section below!