The Origin Story Retold, or, Justice League: War



Who knows how Batman vs. Superman is going to turn out? Sure The Avengers worked out, but will lightening really strike twice with the summer blockbuster-squared approach? The more information revealed about the film the stranger and more ambitious it seems. But one thing is certain: the flick is poised to serve as the launching ground of an entire DC Cinematic Universe. Based on which rumors you put stock in the movie almost even seems poised to be the start of the full of Justice League.

But what if you’re a weirdo who didn’t like Man of Steel’s imposing sense of dread? What if you aren’t happy with the tone director Zack Snyder has set for his DCU? What if you’re already entirely turned off from the movie based on the already announced casting choices?

Whether you’re looking for an alternative to Snyder’s upcoming epic or something to whet your appetite as you eagerly anticipate its release the DC Animated film Justice League: War is worth a viewing.

Where arguments can be made between Marvel and DC as to who is the reigning champion in comics, movies and television, DC is the undisputed champion of the direct-to-video animated feature film.

Niche? Maybe. But superiority is superiority.

Last year DC offered up excellent adaptations of Flashpoint, Superman: Braniac and The Dark Knight Returns. 2014’s first offering, Justice League: War, is an adaptation of the New 52 Justice League origin story, aptly titled Origin.

It follows the first meeting of Batman, Green Lantern, Superman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Cyborg and Shazam as they team up to face a worldwide invasion by everyone’s favorite misspelled baritone, Darkseid.

“Where’s Aquaman?” you ask. “Wasn’t Aquaman in the source material?” you pant desperately. “Why oh why would they replace Aquaman with Shazam?” you bellow, tears of fury streaming from your reddened face.

Me too buddy. Me too.

It's a bird! It's a plane! It's not Aquaman!

It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s not Aquaman!

But the characters that are depicted in War are do so admirably enough.

The younger Superman seen here, voiced by Suburgatory and Firefly’s Alan Tudyk, is a tad brach and cocky, but arguably a more classic take on the character than Man of Steel offers. The bickering between Batman and Green Lantern lends the movie an entertaining, human backbone and helps flesh out both characters. Wonder Woman, voiced by True Detective’s Michelle Monaghan, is sufficiently badass and brutal. In short the characters in Justice League: War are the characters you know and love.

And you do know them. You may not know the Flash’s alter ego or how he got his powers, but you know he can run fast, and War doesn’t demand you know any more than that.

Unlike its live action counterparts like The Avengers and Man of Steel, War doesn’t waste time on concrete origins and exposition for all of the characters. It understands that we, the audience, understand.

There’s no 20-minute montage of character backgrounds. War is concerned with showing you how Hal Jordan became Green Lantern. Its concern is showing you Green Lantern. And Justice League: War is better for it.



The characters in this movie don’t spend time explaining their backgrounds within an inch of their life to one another. Why should they explain them to the audience? You don’t know who Green Lantern is? Neither does Batman. And neither of them know who Shazam is. And he doesn’t know who they are. Throughout the events of the movie the characters are unveiled to each other just as they are unveiled to the audience.

Justice League: War isn’t perfect. For the love of Poseidon, there’s no Aquaman.  But it does an excellent job of telling a steam-lined origin story without the constraints of exposition big studio efforts insist on. If Zack Snyder can create a live-action equivalent of Justice League: War the DC Cinematic Universe may just take flight.



1. SRSLY THO why isn’t Aquaman in this movie?

2. Do you like Shazam more than Aquaman?

3. Was Shazam that movie with Shaq in it? Or was that some other magic word?

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