Why Justice League: War is Kinda Awesome

Justice League: War is a great start to DC's New 52-inspired animated universe

Marvel are the Kings of Cinema in the comic book world at the moment, that much is undeniable; with an impressive catalogue of films, including the Avengers, and many more coming thick and fast, DC are, sadly, lagging behind, with only one film in their new cinematic universe – Man of Steel – out and only one more – Batman vs Superman – on the horizon. TV-wise, it's currently anyones game. Marvel have Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D that is finally getting into its stride, and DC have Arrow that is glorious on a weekly basis, but both have a number of shows currently in production. Comics wise, it's as it always has been, with both being fairly even overall, and more a matter of preference.

But animation? That's where DC have really shined in the last decade or so. Marvel haven't really had anything mind blowing, super impressive or massively popular since their 90s heydays, whereas DC have been pumping out critically acclaimed shows and animated feature films like it's going out of fashion. Their latest push in the animated department is designed to introduce the New 52 revamp to its continuity, with the first major feature, Justice League: War, having recently been released. We've already got Son of Batman on the horizon as well, with more, I'm sure, to come.

These three get some seriously badass action moments

Justice League: War is an adaptation of the first arc of the New 52s Justice League title, that sees the first ever team up between Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Green Lantern, Aquaman and Cyborg, to stand against the invading forces of none other than Darkseid. Forced together by circumstance and need, these 7 heroes formed the Justice League at the end of what was a truly incredible debut arc.

The film is, in some ways, incredibly faithful to the comics, and in others takes certain liberties. For one, Aquaman has been replaced by Shazam, a move that I have mixed feelings about; on the one hand, I'm really disappointed we didn't get to see just how badass Aquaman is, and it's yet another instance of the character getting the shaft. On the other hand, however, Shazam is a really awesome character, and he was really good in the film. There's a side plot where Shazam helps Cyborg deal with his transformation, and it works really well.

Shazam is a fantastic inclusion, it's just a shame Aquaman was dropped for it

The other big change is Superman briefly going all parademon in the third act after he's been captured – something that was averted by Batman in the comics. This change I really wasn't a fan of, as it seemed somewhat forced in order to have a Superman/Batman confrontation, and the fight itself was just one big PIS wherein amped up parademon Supes was somehow considerably slower and less effective than normal Supes – I get the “fighting the control” thing, and that can work well (like when Poison Ivy controlled him and the two best friends fought), but here it felt a bit ridiculous.

Thankfully, all other changes were largely focused around action, and were designed to translate the action from the comics into something truly awe-inspiring on screen. Everything is big, bad, balls-to-the-wall stuff and more than does the comic justice.

You might expect Wonder Woman to shine in combat, but she REALLY shines in this

One of the things that threw me (and a few others I know) off at first was the voice acting; it's not that it was bad, it was just very different, particularly for Cyborg and Wonder Woman, but the others also. It took me till around the middle of the film to really settle into the voices so that they weren't distracting, and once I did they were all round pretty good – there are no Kevin Conroy/Tim Daly iconic level performances, but then, it would be ridiculous to expect that.

The animation style DC went with on this (and seemingly on Son of Batman as well, so perhaps it's another tactic for their New 52 animated universe?) is clean, crisp and very reminiscent of Jim Lee, so it gets an overwhelming thumbs up from me. All the characters look like superheroes without being ridiculously over the top and unrealistic, all the action is breathtaking, and everything is just plain lovely to look at.

I actually had trouble deciding how to rate this film, and was stuck between a “Kinda Awesome” 7/10 or an “Awesome” 8/10. Eventually, the Superman/parademon section, the initial period of adjusting to the voice acting, and the absence of Aquaman (although he is indirectly teased for the next JL film in the post credits, where we see Ocean Master essentially setting up the King of Atlantis arc) meant that I had to go with 7/10. Still, that's a good score, and I would definitely recommend any fans of DC's animated work to give it a look.

Until next time, this has been Blacksmith, writing for the Awesome Update.

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