Justice League: War (2014)
Batman: “The world’s afraid of us.”
Green Lantern: “You say that like it’s a good thing.”
Batman: “It’s necessary.”
Really, I guess that’s the only problem I have with the film is that it’s way too Batcentric. Movies seem to have lost the idea of how to portray Superman as a leader and symbol of hope. Here, he’s an Old Testament-type God-figure, introducing himself by tossing Batman around until he realizes he’s not the enemy. It’s a might-makes-right philosophy…and I think it’s telling that they can’t represent hope without it choking fear. We can’t let Superman stand on his moral authority like Christopher Reeve's Superman did. Batman leads the Justice League now. With fear as a necessity.
But, also against this, we see the story of Wonder Woman, who prefers to spend the day eating ice cream with a girl instead of meeting with the President until the invasion. She at least provides some comic relief. And feminist philosophy. At one point, she gets one of her protestors to admit that he cross-dresses as Wonder Woman via The Lasso of Truth. It’s funny, and at least shows her philosophy of fighting for Truth, rather than hitting everyone right away.
Now, eventually we see characters like Flash (Who analyzes the metal from the bomb.) and Cyborg, and Shazam. All these characters are played spot-on. Flash has his signature fast-talking quick wit. “It’s an honor to meet you, sir…Batman…Batman, sir!” Cyborg’s backstory is the most detailed, which I believe they should focus more on should they make more movies in this storyline. His scientist father basically reveals that he missed his son’s football game to analyze the metal, because whatever he can do with football (in the world of superheroes.) is a joke.
Later, when he becomes infected with an alien symbiote, his scientist dad uses a “quantum computer” to save his body, and he becomes Cyborg. It’s a cool story, and shows how technology can make us compete with superheroes. With a power chair, I know this firsthand.
And then of course, there’s one of the JL’s greatest opponents, Darkseid. He appears out of the alien rift caused by this terraforming bombs. Superman again is a little underplayed here, and he gets abducted, and Batman rescues him. But, this is Batman’s era. I thought how all the team fought together using their powers (Flash for distraction, Green Lantern to repel the army, etc.) was nice. Wonder Woman stabs out Darkseid’s eyes, perhaps in a nod to the Cyclops myth. Oh, yes, it’s an adult cartoon, so there’s blood, and swearing…but that’s what I expected.
Overall, it’s a great feature, and the animation is gripping…reminiscent of Batman: The Animated Series. Very refreshing to see hand-drawn styles, at least…I miss hand-drawn style. It sounds weird, but as I’ve said before I’m a secret animation geek, so it really pulled me in. Especially with the plot! I’ll add a star just for seeing some good animation.
So, in conclusion, yes, Superman’s ideal (Justice) is underplayed for Batman’s fear-based aesthetic. He even wears the Man of Steel (New 52, actually.) outfit! But, I can get used to a Batcentric JL if that’s really what people want in the post-9/11 world. But, is it “necessary”? No. Okay, that’s my final philosophical critique. I actually really enjoyed this movie and the animation, and the essence of the characters.
I mean, there’s Cyborg’s technological genius, Shazam’s bravery (And Shazam is voiced by Sean Astin!), Green Lantern’s willpower, Wonder Woman’s Truth, Flash’s quick wit…if DC’s looking to copy the success of the 2012’s Avengers (Hint: They are. Superman is Hawkeye here, Flash is Iron Man, Wonder Woman is Captain America…even the star-spangled outfit…has to rediscover the modern world.) They succeed here! Now, just make Superman a little more useful than Hawkeye! Oh, snap! 4/5 stars from me! Go see it!