Sunday, July 26, 2015

Bruce Timm’s ‘Justice League: Gods and Monsters’ Is a Terrific Reinvention of the Justice League

Justice League: Gods and Monsters is the third of the three DC direct-to-video animated features scheduled for 2015.  On the other hand, the number of Marvel direct-to-video animated features released this year is… zip!  Seriously, I grow more disappointed with each DC animated movie being released without any Marvel response.  I understand that Marvel is already making serious money in the big screen that they can consider the direct-to-video market close to irrelevant, and they don’t need to compete with DC here.  But as a fan, I really, really wish Marvel would imitate DC in annually producing three or more animated movies a year.   Maybe they can continue exploring the worlds of their epic short-live animated TV series Spectacular Spider-Man and Avengers: Earth Mightiest Heroes through a couple of animated features.  Heck, Marvel can even create a shared universe for their animated movies.

Sorry, I got off topic.  Just needed to express that.  Anyway, back to Justice League: Gods and Monsters

The movie is basically an “Elseworld” tale.  It is set in an alternate universe in which Amanda Waller is President of the United States; Lex Luthor is a super-scientist confined to a high-tech, levitating “wheel chair” (that will remind you of Prof. X); Superman is named Hernan Guerra, the son of General Zod instead of Jor-el, and was found and raised by a Mexican immigrant couple instead of the Kents; Batman is a vampire scientist named Kirk Langstrom (in the regular DC universe, Langstrom is the Batman villain Man-Bat); Wonder Woman is named Bekka, a New God outcast and the widow of Orion; and unique takes on some familiar DC scientists.  This universe’s version of the DC Trinity – Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman – forms this universe’s the Justice League.  They work closely with the US government, and do “fight evil and save the world” stuff, but their methods closely resembles that of The Elite (Read Action Comics’ “What’s So Funny About Truth, Justice & the American Way?” storyline or watch the DCAOU movie Superman vs. the Elite) rather than that of traditional Justice League.  They are violent, ruthless, and have no qualms on going for the overkill.  They even muse about taking over the world someday in order to better protect it.  Hence, it’s no surprise that a good part of the public and media fears and hates them.

A mystery engulfs most of the central plot of the movie.  Shapeshifting killer robots are assassinating several important scientists and making it appear that these were done by the Justice League.  Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman have to figure out what is the connection between the targeted scientists, why they are being framed for the murders, and who is the real mastermind behind them; as well as reflect if there’s a need to change their methods.

Coming into this movie, I admit that I was prepared to hate it.  The trailers for it never appealed to me, and I was never sold on the premise.  I thought that the legendary Bruce Timm – creator of the awesome and beloved DC “Timmverse” – was making a mistake for making this kind of film.  But, watching it finally, I found it surprisingly terrific.  In fact, among all of DC’s animated movies this year – this and JL: Throne of Atlantis and Batman vs. Robin – this is what I like the most.  Its utter Elseworld-ness abundantly adds intrigued and charm, not only to its world-building, but to its overall storytelling.  The plot isn’t flawless, but it’s nearly so, and it’s generally well-told and well-written.  Its Justice League roster, though small in size, has great dynamic.  The voice acting is compelling.  And I love the fact that the very appealing “Timmverse”-style of animation was used.

I’m happy that I was proven wrong for doubting Bruce Timm.  Justice League: Gods and Monsters proves to be another engaging and entertaining DC animated movie.  I love its world, characters, and premise, and I want to see more of them.  So I’m happy that a ten-episode season 2 of Justice League: Gods and Monsters Chronicles is set for 2016 (the first season, consisting of three very short episodes, was released earlier this year in Machinima’s Youtube channel to promote the movie).  But I want more than that.  I’m hoping for movie sequels or a web TV series.  Frankly, I prefer seeing more of Bruce Timm’s Gods and Monsters universe being explored in future projects (this or a series of Injustice: Gods Among Us animated films) than having the continuation of the New 52-style Justice League series of films.

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