Justice League War Review
As many of you know, I sat down and watched DC comics latest animated movie Justice League: War last night. However, I wanted to be very thorough and also read Justice League: Origin the graphic novel that the movie was based on. The movie and graphic novel both tell the story of how the Justice League was first formed in DC’s new 52 and battling Darkseid(pronounced dark side) for the first time. There were a lot of things I enjoyed about the movie but I believe reading the graphic novel first made me dislike more things about it.
With all of that being said let’s start things on a positive note. There were many things about the movie I enjoyed particularly the animation quality, the action scenes, and most of the dialogue.
As with most of DC’s animated movies the animation was very solid. The backrounds in particular had great detail to really help give the feeling of being in Gotham, Metropolis or any of the other locations our heroes visit. The characters had a little less detail but still looked great and being a bit simpler really helped during the fast paced action scenes.
Justice League: War was loaded with action which helped to show the power sets of all the heroes. Not only did Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman and the rest of the JL fight Darkseid but also an army of his parademon soldiers and even themselves at a few points. The action was fast paced and diverse, not a lather, rinse, repeat formula that alot of animated movies tend to use. I enjoyed that most of the scenes also came straight from the graphic novel like much of the dialogue.
A smaller part that I particularly liked was that much of the dialogue was taken straight from the original graphic novel. I think it’s a great nod not only to the people who read the graphic novel but to Geoff Johns who wrote it. Sadly not everything came off positively.
Despite some solid elements I felt that there were many parts that were lacking. A change to Cyborg’s origin, character swaps, role reversals and diologue changes really took me out of the movie. Let’s start with the botched origin.
One of the biggest changes in the new 52 was making Cyborg a founding member of the Justice League and I guess DC felt like more changes were neccesary for the character in the JL:War movie. Some of the changes were small, like his position as a football player or the score of the game in the beginning of the movie but the big change to his actual hero origin really bothered me. In both the movie and graphic novel Victor Stone is mortally injured when a boom tube opens to allow Darkseid’s parademon army to invade Earth while Victor is visiting his father Silas at S.T.A.R. labs. The difference comes when Silas tries to save his son’s life, in the movie Silas grafts Victor with Promethium skin and injects him with nanites to help his body take the graft and that’s where his intent ends. Everything else that happens to make Victor become Cyborg is a complete accident as the graft starts grabbing any technology it can get and absorbing it with Cyborg’s form changing until it just stops on the final form. The graphic novel begins the same with the nanites and graft but all of the tech and Cyborg’s final form is intentional and Silas actually makes Victor Cyborg. I have no idea why these changes were necessary but I feel like it changes the dynamic between Cyborg and his father. Sadly this was not the only character change.
Another major change was the substitution of Shazam(Captain Marvel) in place of Aquaman. This one baffles me completely as Aquaman is a more well known character then Shazam. Shazam’s character and alter ego both seem to function as unneeded comic relief as Green Lantern already has plenty of one liners where Aquaman was a competent warrior who had a basic Aquaman joke made at his expense in the graphic novel. While this was the only full character swap it wasn’t the only role change.
Many role reversals occured between the graphic novel and movie, some were minor and others were a bit more signifigant. The one small change I noticed immediately was Batman saving Green Lantern instead of the other way around. Cyborg having a bit more control over his abilities as opposed to just lucking into certain things changed his role slightly as well. There were two big ones and one in particular bothered me. The first big one was The Flash, in the graphic novel he proved to be a valuable member of the team, demonstrated his selflessness, and even helped to diffuse an early altercation between some of the other heroes. Sadly this was not the case in JL:War, his role was reduced to basically support and the parts in the graphic novel where he truly shined were replaced by Batman and removed entirely. This wasn’t what bothered me the most though, that is reserved for what they did to Wonder Woman. Wonder Woman has always been intended to be a strong female character not just in a physical sense but also that she is smart, wise and not just there as a sex symbol. Unfortunately in JL:War they make her out to be a blood thirsty warrior who just wants to fight and they even go so far as to have a character tell her she dresses like a whore (which is also funny since her costume was changed in the movie to be less revealing). The other big change for her was that in the graphic novel there is a scene where Wonder Woman is fighting and Superman is watching her and says “You’re Strong.” Supes obviously being impressed by her prowess and she smirks and replies “I know” showing her as confident and even impressive to Superman. The movie changes this not only having Shazam hit on her several times but by having her look at Superman fighting and swoon, only to then have the graphic novel’s interaction happen later and in a context that made no sense at all. I guess at least they tried to keep the original.