Justice League: Gods and Monsters, the newest DC animated offering from Bruce Timm, was recently released to DVD and Blu-Ray, so as a Bruce Timm fan, naturally I had to go pick up a copy and check it out. For those unfamiliar, Justice League: Gods and Monsters is a re-imagining of the Justice League where Superman is the son of Zod, Wonder Woman is a New God, and Batman is a vampire. As such, this Justice League is more ruthless and prone to wanton killing than the one we are familiar with. (Some Light Spoilers ahoy)
Not to say that this Justice League actually is evil. They do side with the angels, but they are simply less caring about bad guy life than their regular counterparts. All-in-all, this is a much more adult Justice League than we are used to, with bloodshed and *gasp!* swear words, even some overt sexual innuendos. Does this make it better than the Justice League that we’ve been exposed to before? Is a Justice League that is willing to kill enemies more compelling than one that abhors death?
Well, for one thing, it certainly makes it more credible when normal humans protest the Justice League. When the Justice League was nothing but anti-killing boy scouts you couldn’t help but roll your eyes when people opposed them ideologically. Sure, they have a ton of power, but they never oppressed anyone or used their power for personal gain. This time, however, when people speak out against the Justice League, you can understand their fear. Three gods essentially taking life as they see fit isn’t something that you would necessarily want in the world. Downright terrifying, really. So that was nice, having people actually have a real reason to fear the Justice League.
Another thing that I appreciated with this more mature rendering of the Justice League is that the villains did not hold back in any way. The bad guys in the movie were out for blood and they definitely got some. Many times when watching superhero fare you think about how the enemies, were they truly ruthless, would have killed so many people or been able to murder the heroes rather easily. In this movie, that’s definitely the case. The world feels more real for it, and sometimes it’s more than a little shocking. Of course, the good guys get their fare share of blood, too.
Speaking of shocking, one thing that stood out to me about this movie was Superman’s origins. Here, he wasn’t a baby put in a spaceship. Instead, Jor-El was going to put his DNA into an incubator in the ship with his wife’s, but before he had a chance to, he was interrupted by Zod, who then put his own DNA into the ship with Lara’s, instead. While not exactly rape, it’s rape in essence, and a pretty fucked up way to give Superman his origin. Again, the movie doesn’t shy away from some adult themes such as this, and is better for it. You wonder how much nature vs. nurture comes into play and whether Superman will turn into Zod by the end of the film.
I also liked Batman and Wonder Woman’s origins. Batman, instead of Bruce Wayne, is Dr. Kirk Langstrom. If you don’t recognize the name from comics, you probably recognize the face:
Yes, the Man-Bat became the Batman in this universe, and I loved that twist. It’s never stated explicitly, of course, it’s just a fun nod for fans of the universe. He was also voiced by Michael C. Hall, of Dexter fame, and I loved his very subdued, monotone performance. Redemption after that last season of Dexter as a different bloodthirsty killer-hero?
Wonder Woman’s origin may be the most gruesome of all, but I’m not going to spoil that here. It’s worth watching for yourself, and was one of my favorite parts of the film.
All-in-all, I really enjoyed Justice League: Gods and Monsters. It’s an interesting twist on familiar characters that is definitely for the adults who grew up loving the DC animated universe. The art style is even practically the same as it was before, and coupled with the mature content, I can’t imagine that it was made for anyone but us. The story isn’t anything revolutionary, but it was interesting enough and fed the characters’ development and relationship with the world. The action, however, is great. Terribly exciting and well-animated.
As apparently they’re hoping to make more stories in this universe, I am very curious to see what Bruce Wayne and Diana Prince are up to, as they still would inhabit this world. We saw many familiar faces in the film, but nothing of those two. Kal-El, not so lucky. Never even existed.
I’d also recommend watching the short videos they put out telling stories from this world. These videos do not appear in the movie and are fun ways to familiarize yourself with the essences of these characters before watching the movie. They’re also really fun, and one of them more than a little sad. Start here, then be sure to move on to Superman and Batman:
Then, go check out Justice League: Gods and Monsters! If you’re a fan of the DC animated cartoons, then this is absolutely a must. And if you’re not a fan, watch it anyways! I can almost guarantee that it is better than the giant (very good-looking) turd Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice will be. Man, that movie is going to be shit.