Directed by Jay Oliva
January 21, 2014 (Digital) / February 4, 2014 (Physical)
Bruce Wayne/Batman-Jason O’Mara
Diana Prince/Wonder Woman-Michelle Monaghan
Hal Jordan/Green Lantern-Justin Kirk
Barry Allen/The Flash-Christopher Gorham
Victor Stone/Cyborg-Shemar Moore
Billy Batson/Shazam-Zach Callison and Sean Astin (respectively)
Parademons-Dee Bradley Baker
Thomas Morrow-Ioan Gruffudd
Steve Trevor-George Newbern
Silas Stone-Rocky Carroll
Strange creatures are abducting people across the globe as a precursor to the arrival of Darkseid. Now the Justice League must come together to stop his conquest of Earth.
This film is an adaptation of the story Justice League: Origin by Geoff Johns and Jim Lee which was the first story in 2011’s DC Universe relaunch. There are some differences though. The character of Shazam for example is a founding member in this film and replaces Aquaman in that aspect.
Much like in the comic story then they hint at the beginnings of a relationship between Superman and Wonder Woman. I never liked the idea. It needs to be Lois Lane. That pairing has become such an iconic portion of the character’s mythology that no matter how many times you reboot you need to have those two characters get together.
The voice work of Justice League: War is great, and the characters generally look fantastic. My only gripe is the design that they went with for Superman. I think they made him way too jacked. He has more muscle than Schwarzenegger did at his most muscular. I am not sure how he could ever hide as Clark Kent in the background. I admit we need to suspend our disbelief in a world with flying men, superpowered women, and space cops with green rings that make stuff but c’mon, man! We need a little plausibility in the designs at least.
Batman, Green Lantern, and the Flash form an entertaining trio. Batman seems to be jerking Green Lantern around by giving praise (at least for Bats) to the Flash. He even manages to slip off Lantern’s ring. Lantern is written as cocky and a bit full of himself and Batman is not above bringing him down a bit.
There is also a friendship developed between Cyborg and Shazam that because of the character’s inclusion here did not happen in the source material. I give them particular credit for doing a good job of having the Shazam character feel like an actual young boy in a man’s body with superpowers since, well, that is what the character is. That is an important thing to do when portraying the character. A suddenly mature beyond their years child character just does not work for me.
Darkseid, the baddie behind it all, looked suitably threatening as if he were a dark god-like he should. Earth was a petty thing for the taking by this entity of raw power. The voice work for him was deep and sinister and dripped with evil.
Origin stories, especially ones that have had multiple versions, can be tricky to tell. Sometimes the creators get lazy and they rush through important bits because they assume the audience already knows. You need to tell it as if it is the first time EACH time. They do not do that here even though this story is based on something that was less than two years old. We get a story that touches on all the important points and has an exciting build.
At a little better than 70 minutes, I think this film is shortchanges the source material. Then again I want these animated DC films to be long and hit theaters but we do not always get what we want. The original story had a little more meat to it. Still not bad though.
Justice League: War is a fine animated feature for the DC direct to video catalog. Watch it!