Review – Justice League: Gods and Monsters
By Bryan Scheidler
This week, nerds everywhere rejoiced, as we finally got to see the long awaited Bruce Timm animated film Justice League: Gods and Monsters. If you don’t understand why this is such a big deal, let me explain. Bruce Timm is one of the visionaries behind the 90’s Batman: The Animated Series; the series that every other animated comic book show is judged by. On top of that, he was also responsible for helping create the animated series Justice League and Justice League Unlimited. He is the one who created the iconic looks and stories that most people think of when they think of the DC Universe. When ‘Gods and Monsters’ was announced it was universally seen as the return of the King. The question is: how does it compare to his past work?
Let’s clear something up right now: ‘Gods and Monsters’ is not your normal Justice League story. Yes it follows the big three: Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman, but they are different. Superman is the son of General Zod and his traditional mother Lara; Batman is a variation of Kurt Langstrom, the Man-Bat, but this time he is a vampire; and Wonder-Woman is the granddaughter of the All Father from New Genesis, not an Amazon from Themyscira. These different characters bring different backstories and from there come an entirely different set of morals. Without getting too much into it, let’s just say that killing is definitely an option. Now that you understand how this version of the Justice League is different from what you’re used to, the question is: does it work or does it fail as a compelling story?
Let’s start with what works in ‘Gods and Monsters’. The biggest thing that works for the film is the cast of characters and the crafting of their stories. The film is littered with familiar characters that are slightly different from the ones we know. Whether it is Lois Lane, Steve Trevor, Amanda Waller, or Lex Luther, all of these characters are close enough to what we know to be familiar but are totally believable in this new version. With the characters having new backgrounds and stories they also have new moral outlooks. This is most obvious in Superman, Wonder Woman and Batman, but it is the shifts we see in other characters that are just as compelling. Some are tamer while others are more villainous, and they don’t always change in the way you would expect. Another thing that worked for the film was the background stories of the main three, especially Wonder Woman and Batman. Without giving anything away (need to keep some of the surprises secret), the attention they gave to crafting these back-stories is what makes this darker world so compelling.
Of course not everything in the film was great; the biggest flaw comes from the man of steel. While the back-stories for Wonder Woman and Batman are fantastic, Superman’s is a mess. Yes, there is a reason in the film why we know so little of his Kryptonian past, but we get almost nothing of his past and time as a boy growing up on Earth. For as important as the past was in shaping Batman and Wonder Woman you would think it would be just as important to Superman. Speaking of his Kryptonian past, the one scene we get is the metaphorical rape of Lara by General Zod. This is immediately followed by Superman’s giant sperm spaceship blasting off into space and racing towards Earth. I don’t consider this a spoiler since it is the first scene in the movie. Frankly, I was stunned that this was how they chose to start the film. It was the weakest point of the film and my only real complaint.
Even though this film has a weak start it improves right away. The fights, the overall story, the remarkable voice acting, and the unique take on well-established characters make this film one worth checking out. However, if you couldn’t tell from what I mentioned above, this isn’t a kid’s film so don’t think just because it has Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman in it you can show it to your children. Go watch it for yourself though! I enjoyed it, and I plan on watching it again very soon.
Buy it Now