The reimagining of the formation of the Justice League is DC Animated's latest release, "Justice League: War." It is based on Jim Lee and Geoff Johns' New 52 reboot of the titular superhero team. DC Animated is retaining this feature's cast for future animated film's as this film is meant to establish an animated continuity just as Bruce Timm did with Batman: The Animated Series, Justice League, Superman, Justice League Unlimited, and Batman: Beyond. As such, veteran voice director Andrea Romano has chosen some interesting talent to round out the newest incarnation of the superteam.
The real attraction of DC's latest animated venture is to see if this new incarnation of our much adored Justice League can hold their own in future features as they grow this new animated continuity world with a fresh look at the entire DCU. DC is basing all features from this point forward within a world that is very similar to the New 52. For many of us, no one else but the old team we watched on Saturday mornings will ever be the Justice League. The Bruce Timm era of shows are unparalleled in their attempt to create a continuity-driven world in an animated show. Here, DC is attempting to repeat history, though I don't believe a new Justice League show featuring this cast is in the works. Anyhow, let's have a look at the new team line-up; the cast and the characters. POTENTIAL SPOILERS AHEAD, so stop reading now if you are someone who doesn't like spoilers.
Voicing the youngest member of the team, young Zach Callison reprises the role of Billy Batson (he voiced him in the Black Adam/Shazam animated short featuring Superman several years ago). Billy is still a young boy in the foster system, and even Freddy Freeman is under the same roof as him. However, his alter ego the all-powerful Shazam is voiced by LOTR's Samwise Gamgee and star of "The Goonies," Sean Astin. Their combined talent gives the audience a much more sarcastic and slightly cynical Billy.
Barry Allen/The Flash:
Christopher Gorham, a television and voice-acting veterans, graces us as the scarlet speedster. Barry talks fast and thinks faster on his feet, and is even complemented by Batman for his excellent work in Central City. He is a bit of a wise-crack, just as Michael Rosenbaum's Wally West/Flash was. (Oddly enough both of them worked for the police; not in the comics though, of course)
Hal Jordan/Green Lantern:
Earth's emerald guardian is portrayed by Justin Kirk, a member of the cast of Showtime's "Weeds." Hal is a bit cockier in this adaptation, and much more hot-headed. Yet, Batman comes to rely on the ring-slinger as the plot thickens. Kirk's comedic timing is top-notch as Earth's greatest Green Lantern.
The latest incarnation of the Amazonian princess of Themyscira is played by the talented Michelle Monaghan ("Due Date" and "Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang"). Diana has no alter ego, nor secret identity in this one. Steve Trevor acts a liasion between her and the President, as she is visiting from Themyscira. She appears to be a representative on behalf of the Amazons, but very little about how she came to be in the United States is explicated. Michelle plays a rather interesting Diana, showing how naive and young she is while also being a fierce warrior.
Shemar Moore, veteran DC-verse actor from "Birds of Prey," plays a teenage Vic Stone, who just happens to be star quarterback of a team appropriately called the Titans. Cyborg gets an updated origin story that doesn't deviate too much from George Perez's original story of Vic Stone's rebirth as Cyborg. Cyborg doesn't deviate from what we know him to be like very much at all. He has simply been rebooted in this new continuity.
Though we do not see his alter ego Clark Kent, Alan Tudyk's Superman is a bit different than what we are used to. I have not read much of the New 52 comics, but the world that DC Animated is setting up is interesting thus far. Superman is not so good about collateral damage this time around, nor he is keen on controlling himself and keeping his emotions in check. Though he is a good person, morally speaking, he is a bit of a.. um… well I'm not allowed to use profanity but I think you get the drift. On the plus side, Wonder Woman is instantly drawn to him, at least in this continuity.
The first of the new cast to immediately reprise his role, as he will in "Son of Batman" later this year, Jason O'Mara is the next actor to don the cowl. Mr. O'Mara plays Bats just the way he should: dark, brooding, and mysterious. However, he is lucky in that he has a unique opportunity to play a Batman who is still fairly green in the area of superheroics. This is his first Justice League mission, essentially. And though Batman is still awesome in this feature, at one point even he must say, "I don't know," when asked what to do next. That's a Batman I haven't encountered. Someone who is admittedly fallible, at least for now.
Overall, I felt this new adaptation from DC Animated is fresh, and unique. It has genuine appeal, for younger fans as well since it was given a PG-13 rating. It is reminiscent of the Bruce Timm era, but is a much more adult world. People die in this feature, and no one ever really died in the Timm series' (there were occasional deaths, however, most were faked deaths or people dying of a disease or old age, or being shot in an alley in front of an eight year old boy). Even the characters are a little darker, or at least different than I've known them to be. Also included in your DVD is the sneak peek of the upcoming "Son of Batman," which is based on the Grant Morrison and Andy Kubert title, "Batman and Son." So, we have an animated Damian coming soon, Bat-fans.
Justice League: War:
Reviewed by Chris Gering