It’s nice to know that with the multiple universes that DC is doing with their current run of shows, movies, animation, video games, and of course comics, there can also be room for new ones, and that’s where this movie fits in.
I grew up on the DC Animated Universe, watching Batman: The Animated Series, Superman: The Animated Series, Justice League/Justice League Unlimited, Static Shock and Batman Beyond (my favorite, btw), and loving the storylines, characters, voice acting, animation, and how while they were adaptations, they just felt so original to me and still are. Heck, at one point I thought these characters only existed in this stuff, I didn’t know much about the comics they were based on until I got older. To me, that seemed like part of the magic of the DCAU that Bruce Timm helped create, and while that universe hasn’t made a comeback yet (at least not on TV or film, I know it continued in the Batman Beyond comics before the current one), it’s nice to know Timm has continued his involvement with DC on the animation side and isn’t fresh out of ideas, and this movie clearly shows that.
This movie is a nice breath of fresh air among all the animated adaptations that have come out of the DC Animated Original Movies line. I do enjoy those, but it’s good that there can be room for ideas that aren’t based on a specific storyline or tying in to another universe. Also, it’s nice to know that this movie doesn’t try to come out as a multiverse story like Injustice: Gods Among Us, because while the audience can be made aware this is set in another universe, it doesn’t have to make it THAT obvious or crossover with another universe, taking away whatever story could’ve been told simply with that universe alone, presenting it as if it was actually happening, though at the end the movie does hint at multiverse stuff. Justice League: Gods and Monsters does throw in some things people would be familiar with, but then twists it around and runs with it. There is also the comics and animated series that tie-in to this movie, yet really just expand on the characters’ origin stories and solo adventures. The first season of said animated series, consisting of three episodes, does that and I think it takes place before the movie, and with a second season, consisting of ten episodes, happening soon, it’d be cool to see if it takes place after the movie and builds up to the sequel or just explores more ideas set within this universe.
Bruce Timm’s animation is just as awesome as ever and just as creative and imaginative, but with an edge since it’s something not set in the DCAU, which is what a lot of people are used to when it comes to Timm. The unique characterizations and twists for the DC Trinity are awesome and edgy: Superman being the son of Zod and raised by Mexican immigrants, Batman an alternate version of Kirk Langstrom (traditionally Man-Bat in most universes) and also a vampire, and Wonder Woman an alternate version of the character Bekka from New Gods. All these characters have unique backstories that are greatly explored via flashbacks and actually provide insight into their current motivations, which leads to them becoming isolated from humanity and growing more monstrous.
With this being an alternate universe story, it is definitely not holding back on what transpires. The story is about the Justice League, made up of this universe’s variation on the DC Trinity, carrying out their superheroics, which are sorta deemed necessary yet ruthless and extreme, basically they kill and/or seriously injure the bad guys (or drain their blood, in Batman’s case), and cause massive property damage, while also acting like their own police force and remaining unaccountable. However, a series of murders of characters fans may be familiar with, mostly scientists, with their causes of death baring similarities to the Justice League’s powers, and thus they are set on finding the true culprit as well as what links these events while also dealing with governments that are getting tired of their actions, which comes to a head with these murders happening.
While this is a new and original take on DC stuff, I can’t help but find similarities between this and other DC stuff that’s been done before. The Justice League being an almost totalitarian-esque group has been explored in DCAU with the Justice Lords, Superman’s Regime in Injustice, or just about any alternate version of the JL, like the Crime Syndicate and others, in the comics. Modern-day cynicism and paranoia of superheroes and their actions is pretty much done in almost every superhero story nowadays since Watchmen and others that came around and/or after it, especially nowadays with the New 52. But I guess that since this is another variation on established characters that people are familiar with, there’s always going to be compare/contrast with other stuff that came before it. These ideas and themes do also help the film live up to its title of “Gods and Monsters”, not just in the main characters and how they act and their appearances, but pretty much everyone in this story and the overall look, feel, and tone of it too.
The voicework for this movie is fantastic, though with a lot of animated movies requiring voicework and are based on properties people are familiar with, there are a lot of characters voiced by some pretty well-known people that may not get a lot of lines other than the characters that are heavily featured. Again, alternate universe, so anything goes, but still leaves with a sense of wondering what could’ve been too. Speaking of which, if Kirk Langstrom is Batman and Bekka is Wonder Woman (Superman is the son of Lara, Jor-El’s wife, like in the comics and almost was Jor-El’s son, but Zod stopped and pressed his thumb into a DNA thing that made Supes Zod’s son instead; yeah I know it’s weird just roll with it), then where are Bruce Wayne and Diana of Themyscira, who are traditionally Batman and Wonder Woman, if they exist at all in this universe? That’d be an interesting idea to explore if there’s a sequel. Also, I know that DC tends to bank on the Trinity a lot in most cases, especially the upcoming Batman/Superman: Dawn of Justice (I’m not adding “versus” because it’s obvious they’re not fighting each other the WHOLE MOVIE, so what’s the point of having it in there?; also, not sure how big Wonder Woman’s role is in that movie, but it doesn’t seem much of a movie featuring the titular heroes as a duo of sorts, though not dynamic duo lol, if she has as big of a part as the other heroes, so why have Batman and Superman’s names in the title and call it something else like “World’s Finest” or something?; and yeah I know Cyborg and Aquaman are gonna be in it but they’re not heavily featured like she is; I’m thinking too much on this lol) but the Justice League is more than just these three heroes, so if there’s a sequel, hopefully more members will appear, especially considering Wonder Woman leaves the team at the end.
All in all, this was a very entertaining, simple yet complex, and awesome story based on characters people know and love, but does a different take and sticks with it. I’m excited to see what more could be done with this new universe in the future, like what kind of variations of characters could be shown, such as Aquaman being a guy who turns into a wereshark, The Flash being a sentient lightning bolt stuck in a robot body, Green Lantern a glowing guy whose powers come from a meteor or nuclear radiation, and whatever other ideas that could be explored, although if the makers of this movie are reading this, they might just do that and that’d be pretty cool 🙂 .