After years of delivering a new style of animation for a new generation of DC and Warner fans, the DC animation department is going back to the well and reviving the classic Bruce Timm animation style for some brand new films. While they all haven’t been slam dunks, “Justice League vs. The Fatal Five” is a fine return to form for a part of DC Comics Entertainment that almost always delivers. It’s certainly better than the junky 2017 “Batman and Harley Quinn” movie, and even takes the time out to delve in to important overtones about PTSD, Mental illness, and overcoming our fears.
After what’s been a mixed bag of titles in the DC Universe animation library, DC and Warner has suddenly decided to re-visit the classic Bruce Timm animation universe they retired so long ago. Not that I’m complaining, as it’s been a pretty awesome experience re-visiting the style that helped usher in much of what we know from DC Animation from the nineties in to pop culture. “Justice League vs. The Fatal Five” is thankfully a fun re-visit to this property that works as a semi-sequel to the “Justice League” animated series that also seems to be testing the platform for “The Legion of Superheroes,” again.
One of most controversial and divisive story arcs of the nineties is brought to the small screen in an epic fashion, and DC and Warner manage to adapt the final half of the “Death of Superman” storyline for a broader audience. While nineties kids will love to see the whole mystery of the Four Supermen once again, DC works within the limitations of the characters they’re allowed to use, and re-imagines most of the storyline of the Reign of the Supermen, right down the primary antagonist working behind the scenes.
Adapting the entirety of the arc of the Death, Reign and Return of Superman was always a heavy ambition for DC and it’s a shame that they never quite get it just right when it comes to putting it on the small screen. I loved “The Death of Superman.” And while I thought “Reign of the Supermen” was a pretty damn good movie all in all, it suffers from a lot of the major flaws most DC animated movies do. It rushes through so much important exposition, and doesn’t give its four main characters enough screen time to warrant caring a lot about them, or even rooting for them for that matter. When all is said and done, “Reign of the Supermen” is a very good follow up to “The Death of Superman” with some great action set pieces, and wonderful animation.
One of the most controversial and heavily disputed comic book events of all time is finally brought to the DC animation universe. It’ll probably also setting up potential movie go arounds for supporting characters within the “Superman: Doomsday” scope. I can imagine if the course is cleared, we could see some overdue attention paid to “Steel.” One can hope. In either case, “The Death of Superman” is pretty much a truncated version of the original mini-series, with a look at the massive event that brought DC to its knees and Superman to death.
Based on one of the most iconic and controversial miniseries of all time, “The Death of Superman” is a curious adaptation of the series that suffers from definite pitfalls but comes out in the end as a pretty damn good movie, overall. One of the very few DC animated movies not centered on Batman, “The Death of Superman” is much more centered on the original source material than 2007’s “Superman Doomsday,” and if the final scene is any indication, we’re looking at a pretty length depiction of the story arc from the comic books right down to the Super mullet.
At the end of the day I think “Justice League” is a very—okay movie, with glimmers of greatness. But that’s the problem, sadly. Fans waited and waited, and didn’t want an okay movie. We fans wanted a great movie, and despite bringing in Joss Whedon in the final hour, “Justice League” feels less like the beginning of an epic saga of superheroes, and more like a throwaway episode of a mediocre superhero series. And what with “mustache gate” and the continued controversy over the original cut of the film, “Justice League” will carry a lot of baggage with it forever. Which is sad, because I still didn’t hate it as much as I did “Batman v Superman.”
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.