Know the Justice League? Not quite.
In an alternate universe fuelled by writers Alan Burnett and Bruce Timm’s imaginations, Superman is Hernan Guerra, raised by Mexican immigrants to the USA and the biological son of General Zod; Batman is Kirk Langstrom, aka Man-Bat, a mutated scientist whose DNA is spliced with that of a vampire bat; and Wonder Woman is Bekka, disgruntled New God of New Genesis and widow of Orion. Between them, the three put down crime with extreme prejudice and are equal parts loved and loathed by the public and seen as a necessary evil by the government of President Amanda Waller. When eminent scientists begin to turn up murdered, it seems that someone is trying to frame the League. The question is, why?
You might’ve noticed us waxing lyrical about the Justice League: Gods & Monsters Chronicles short films that preceded this movie. I’m not ashamed to admit it, I was really looking forward to it. Warner Bros’ track record with animated DC Comics properties is pretty good and the hope was that this parallel universe story would follow suit. Fortunately, it has. The story takes us into the history of a universe changed from the one we know from DC in small, subtle ways that have rolled on in a butterfly effect to create a trio of super anti-heroes that could well be as bad as the people they fight. It’s a refreshing change of pace from the publisher that frequently portrayed its heroes as flawless paragons of virtue (yes, even Batman from time to time). This is a Big Three with very human flaws, and frankly the better for it.
The film isn’t perfect, of course. Maybe Superman is just too much of a git, and the big bad is little more than a cardboard cutout of a movie villain. All he’s lacking is a moustache to twirl. And, having watched the Gods & Monsters Chronicles shorts, there’s the feeling that certain elements of the plot haven’t quite lived up to expectations. But these are minor niggles. This is a damn good film, and there’s a lot of scope for future stories in this universe.
Justice League: Gods & Monsters is released on DVD and Blu-Ray on 28 July 2015.