If “Batman v Superman” was Zack Snyder’s own way of exploring how antiquated Superman is, “Justice League” is the proof by Joss Whedon that Superman is actually a bad ass with the right mind behind him. I won’t pretend that “Justice League” is a masterpiece of the comic cinema boom, but I can’t claim it to be one of the worst movies of the year, either. With some spit and polish, it could have risen to be a fantastic film, but in its final form, it’s a neat diversion with a manic energy, and the return of a modern cinematic Superman who presents an iota of positivity, charm, and hope. Finally.
“Justice League: The New Frontier,” adapted from the late great Darwyn Cooke’s graphic novel is an attempt at a new approach toward the DC universe the heroes behind DC. It’s an engaging, poetic, often brilliant animated film with an adult sensibility and intriguing psychological analysis that features a world on the brink of a new frontier, and its heroes and protectors facing the prospect of not being needed. On the opposite spectrum, their views of humanity are waning and devolving as they see endless cruel violence, and hatred take form through horrendous racial crimes. Director David Bullock and co. dare to present a film that takes a step back looking at the humanity that is affected by a world inhabited by DC heroes.
It’s a thing of beauty to see DC Comics and Warner finally embrace what’s so awe-inspiring about their characters. I’ve been a very vocal critic about DC’s output of live action films, and “Wonder Woman” is thankfully a remarkable jumping point for the new direction of the cinematic universe for DC and Warner. Patty Jenkins’ film presents Wonder Woman at a turning point at the very end of her own movie and is one of the most socially relevant superhero films made in the last fifteen years. “Wonder Woman” arrives in an age where worldwide, efforts are being made by various political and corrupt powers to silence women. Out of the darkness comes Diana Prince, a woman who will not be silenced or put in to the background.
Diana grew up to become an Amazon warrior. Little did she know, she was much more than that and when the time comes, she heads to war with a man who crashed near the island she lives on with only women. There she discovers her full potential as much more than a warrior, but also a hero.
If you want to talk about weird team ups of 2017 in comic books, it’s tough to come across any weirder than Mighty Morphin Power Rangers and the Justice League. It takes a lot of exposition, but the crossover with both teams is entertaining enough in that the writers find a good balance between both properties. The Power Rangers at Boom Studios are now dramatic enough in their own series to work alongside the Justice League, while the Justice League are considered somewhat bright enough to work alongside the Power Rangers. This could be a good platform to mock the Power Rangers and give the Justice League considerable credibility, but thankfully both teams manage to take the piss out of one another quite often.
2014’s “The Lego Movie” surprised fans two fold, not just by being an excellent movie, but by turning Batman in to one of the funniest supporting characters in an animated movie since—well ever. “The Lego Batman Movie” initially had me very skeptical as to how far they could stretch the hilarious side character in to his own feature film, and shocking enough Lego Batman’s spin off is fantastic. It’s laugh out loud funny, very clever, and has a bonafide appeal to both hardcore fans and new audiences looking for a giggle or two. Like the original movie that spawned it, “The Lego Batman Movie” garners a myriad absurdity and off the wall hilarity that will keep many viewers laughing almost non-stop, but the writing team also injects a lot of heart. While Batman is a self confident, obnoxious, egomaniac in love with his own vigilante persona, he’s also a man who doesn’t realize much of it is hollow without a family or someone to lean on.
Setting aside that DC pretty much slaps Batman in to their newest film, “Justice League Dark” is actually a fun celebration of the supernatural element from DC Comics. Taking a much needed peek in to the darker universe from DC, “Justice League Dark” is an adaptation of the acclaimed graphic novel, involving supernatural characters from DC who team up to take on a threat beyond the capabilities of Superman and Wonder Woman. “Justice League Dark” is a fairly well realized horror take on the DC universe that suffers, sadly, from a short run time. With a group of characters filled with such immense, and complex back stories and amazing powers, it’s sad “Justice League Dark” is only allotted a scant eighty minute run time. John Constantine alone deserves a thirty minute introduction.
I’m still not sure why DC commits to creating new branches of their animated universe with only a little under eighty minutes to spare. I think it wouldn’t hurt if something like “Justice League Dark” was given two hours to tell its story. Instead it rushes through just about everything possible, from prologue, set up, character introductions, villain introduction, villain back story, and the final showdown. And there’s no guarantee we’ll see a sequel any time soon, since DC and Warner are planning a live action version. So unless you’re a hardcore DC fan, you won’t get to learn a lot about folks like the Demon Etrigan or Zatanna, since we speed right through their characterizations.