Justice League: War is the kind of uninhibited superhero adrenaline rush that I enjoy almost more than anything. This is the kind of Justice League movie we all want, but probably will never see, on the big screen. It’s relentless in its action, hilarious in its dialogue, and brilliant in its execution. It’s not all that deep, but when a movie is this much fun, I couldn’t care less.
This is a movie for comic book fans, through and through. I may not be as in-tune with DC’s comics as I wish I was, but I grew up watching the Justice League cartoon and pride myself on having an absurd amount of nerdy knowledge stored up in my head. As an obvious fan of the material, Justice League: War made me giddy with excitement.
The story goes a little something like this: when a seemingly unstoppable force of evil invades the world, seven up-and-coming superheroes will have to band together to stop it, or risk extermination. I won’t lie and say it’s not generic, because it is. There isn’t a single thing here you haven’t seen before, but that’s okay, because this isn’t about plot, it’s about the characters, and the gratuitous action they get involved in.
Justice League: War is an origin story of sorts, as it marks the beginning of a new shared universe for DC’s animated flicks. For example, their next movie, the Son of Batman, will star the Batman seen in this movie. And as an origin story, this movie’s primary objective is to introduce and establish our characters as heroes and peopple we will want to see more of. And that’s exactly what it does.
Batman, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, Flash, Superman, Shazam, and the new recruit Cyborg are established quickly and intelligently. This movie expects you to know who these characters are and where they come from, and spends little time explaining their backstory outside of a few passing remarks. While this could be confusing for newcomers, it works perfectly for fans and only aids in establishing the pace and feel of the movie.
Part of the reason the characters are just so fun to watch is because of the quick-witted, well written dialogue that flows and feels really natural for all the characters, with the only exception being some slightly forced profanity. Green Lantern and Batman get most of the best lines, but the banter amongst the entire cast is engaging and entertaining.
The voice-cast work really well together, and while it took me some time to adjust to some of the newcomers, I quickly warmed up to them and enjoyed their work quite a bit, with Michelle Monaghan’s Wonder Woman and Jason O’Mara’s Batman being the two stand-outs for me. I only wish that Darkseid was given more to do than just grumble his lines and blow lots of stuff up.
However, with all that said, the real star of this film is the action itself. The DC animated movies are never lacking in destruction, but Justice League: War was more explosive, more exhilarating than probably anything DC has put out before. There are just so many great moments that it’s nearly impossible for me to pick a single favorite.
Obviously, some characters do get side-lined from time-to-time, but for the most part the movie juggles them all really well, with each character getting several stand-out moments. Wonder Woman in particular is sure to be a real crowd pleaser, as she dominates nearly every fight she’s in, often dropping some great one-liners, and stays true to her character while doing so.
Each confrontation is better than the last, with the first fights often reflecting the fragmented, uncoordinated nature of the team itself, but by the end the heroes are working together and throwing everything they have at their enemies and the results are pretty spectacular. But it’s the relentless climax itself that rightfully takes the prize, and just when you think it can’t get any crazier, it does.
However, I do have a few critiques, primarily the way Wonder Woman was treated by her male-counterparts. I’ve already mentioned how well her portrayal is here, which makes it even more baffling that the writers’ decided to have nearly every one her teammates ‘fight’ over her for the duration of the movie. It’s not a major flaw, but still irritated me because it was so unnecessary.
Overall though, Justice League: War is far better than I imagined it could’ve been, and is easily one of the more exciting offerings in DC’s animated catalog. The plot may be paper-thin, but its great characters, witty dialogue and relentless action more than make up for it. DC would be wise to look here for inspiration when they inevitably decide to make a live-action Justice League film.