While DC has created a line of animated movies geared toward the mature audiences, there’s something precious about having a four year old sit down and watch an animated movie, based on a comic book, that he won’t be able to read… until he learns to read.
Warner Bros. Home Entertainment released Justice League: DOOM last week, and Major Spoilers takes a look at what it takes to make a successful adaptation.
JUSTICE LEAGUE: DOOM
Director: Lauren Montgomery
Writer: Dwayne McDuffie
Batman: Kevin Conroy
Superman: Tim Daly
Wonder Woman: Susan Eisenberg
Green Lantern: Nathan Fillion
Martian Manhunter: Carl Lumbly
The Flash: Michael Rosenbaum
Cyborg: Bumper Robinson
Bane: Carlos Alazraqui
Cheetah: Claudia Black
Metallo: Paul Blackthorne
Star Sapphire: Olivia d’Abo
Mirror Master: Alexis Denlsof
Vandal Savage: Phil Morris
PLOT: Justice League: Doom finds Superman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Green Lantern, Martian Manhunter, Cyborg and Batman on their heels when a team of super villains discover and implement the Dark Knight’s “contingency plans” for stopping any rogue Justice League member. The story is inspired by Mark Waid’s much-heralded “JLA: Tower of Babel.”
THERE AREN’T ENOUGH MEMBERS TO BE THE JUSTICE LEAGUE! WHERE’S AQUAMAN!? WHERE’S PLASTIC MAN!? WHERE’S WONDER… Oh, there she is…
One of the things that is always interesting about a Justice League movie is the small roster that comprise the team. For this adaptation, Dwayne McDuffie dropped Aquaman and John Stewart from the lineup, instead replacing them with Cyborg and Hal Jordan. It’s a move that works to an extent as it keeps the diversity while giving audiences a character that is both in current continuity and up on the big screen. Likewise, the decision to replace Ra’s al Ghul with Vandal Savage works as it keeps the potential audience confusion to a minimum from what they may have seen on the big screen.
From the moment the story opens, viewers are served up action sequence after action sequence, with just enough sleuthing and character building points to entertain those who don’t like non-stop fighty-fighty. The addition of Cyborg on the team brings the tech element needed to crack the case and help prevent the world from dying, and it allows the character to move up to the big league at the conclusion of the movie – not unlike Cyborg’s addition to the lineup in the current DC New 52.
For those who have read JLA: Tower of Babel, the general gist is there – Vandal Savage steals Batman’s plans to take down the Justice League, and tweaks it with the rest of the Legion of Doom, in order to remove them from the fight as he initiates a doomsday plan to take over the world. While I think Dwayne McDuffie delivered a fantastic adaptation, I’m rather disappointed that Mark Waid’s name didn’t appear anywhere in the credits. Sure, enough of the details and plot points of the movie have been changed, but the core idea is still based on Waid’s work.
The cast is as perfect as perfect can be, as the movie reunites some of the best voice actors who have played these characters over the years, and it’s a Who’s Who of acting talent. Listening to the character actors do their thing on the big screen, was like watching a reunion of old friends. There wasn’t a bad acting moment in the entire movie. Considering Kevin Conroy has played Batman longer than anyone else at this point, I really think the success of superhero properties lies in animated features.
DAD, THAT’S NOT GREEN LANTERN
When it comes to the animation, it’s interesting to see how Warner Bros. Animation has slowly changed the character designs from the Paul Dini/Bruce Timm style from Batman: The Animated Series to now looking more like the style found in Young Justice. The style works very well in this movie, and I’m glad the producers aren’t locked into one style for all time.
The quiet moments of the movie, like when Superman gets shot in the chest with a Kryptonite bullet, and Bruce Wayne having an exchange with Alfred, are well animated, and show that powerful storytelling moments can be done in an animated movie. Justice League: DOOM has some very big action sequences as each of the heroes is taken down, and when the big finale occurs in the Hall of Doom, however the violence factor seems to be toned down from Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths.
BOTTOM LINE: I FEEL SAD FOR BATMAN
As my son grows older, his attention span has grown, but I’d like to think this particular movie held his attention simply because of the story. By the time the credit finished rolling, he was out of the chair, and up the stairs to tell his mother all about the movie, including the fact that he was sad to see Batman leave the Justice League. When asked if he understood why Batman had to leave/was kicked out, he said it was because Batman was trying to protect everyone. A few words from a small boy pretty much sums up the entire story – a plan gone wrong, and everyone having to clean up the mess.
Justice League: DOOM is a solid adaptation and entertaining, earning 4 out of 5 Stars.