Mar 12, 2012

[Movies] Justice League: Doom (2012)

JLA: Tower of Babel and Identity Crisis were two major DC comic book events that really did a lot of further develop Batman as a character. Beyond his obsessive quest for justice on behalf of his murdered parents and him representing what is essentially the peak of human capability, the comics explored his rather Machivellian methods and followed them to their logical progression. It has been said many times before that Batman shares many traits with the unstable villains he hunts down in Gotham. Those comics explored that concept, as does this movie.

Some might argue that Batman is a paranoid freak at times - one who finds trusting others very difficult and prone to preparing for the truly worst situations that no one thinks about on their own. And all this is probably true given his history, but this does not make him any less the hero that he is. I wouldn't even go as far as claiming that he's an antihero or anything silly like that.

Batman remains one of the most logical heroes out there, always prepared to make the truly tough decisions as needed in order to save innocent lives or generally for the sake of the greater good. It's just rather tricky to figure out what good Batman is fighting for at times given his habits of keeping things to himself. And this movie helps paint that particular picture of Batman, which truly does make for interesting viewing.

Justice League: Doom is a 2012 DC Universe animated movie released for the direct-to-video market. It was directed by Lauren Montgomery based on a screenplay by Dwayne McDuffie, which is also his last work before his death. The story is loosely based on the events depicted in JLA: Tower of Babel.

In pursuit of the Royal Flush Gang, Batman (Kevin Conroy) goes in alone while the rest of the Justice League remain enroute to the scene of the crime. He takes a bit of a beating, but manages to delay the gang until the rest of the JLA can arrive and assist with their capture. They also have the help of a non-League member - Cyborg (Bumper Robinson), who was called to help verify the nature of the highly advanced technology used to break into the facility. As they part ways, it turns out that Mirror Master (Alexis Denisof) manages to sneak into the Batcave in order to retrieve files from Batman's computers.

JLA: Tower of Babel
Image via Wikipedia
Soon, each member of the JLA is faced with some of their traditional foes, but who are now armed with new knowledge about ways to defeat them. Batman (as Bruce Wayne) faces Bane (Carlos Alazraqui), Martian Manhunter (Carl Lumbly) faces a disguised Ma'lefa'ak (also Carl Kumbly), Wonder Woman (Susan Eisenberg) battles Cheetah (Claudia Black), Flash (Michael Rosenbaum)  faces Mirror Master, Green Lantern (Nathan Fillion) is challenged by Star Sapphire (Oliva d'Abo), and Superman (Tim Daly) has Metallo (Alexis Denisof) to deal with. And yet one by one the League members are defeated while an unknown mastermind uses this chaos to advance his own plans for the world.

While not an official sequel, this version of the Justice League loosely follows the same line-up assembled in Crisis on Two Earths, which had also been written by the late Dwayne McDuffie. And this may be a step in the right direction since it may build an actual coherent universe that DC can play around in for their animated features instead of creating standalone movies that are starting to feel like Elseworlds adventures instead of building up a solid universe with some semblance of continuity. I'm not asking for a new TV series (but that would still be nice) nor for the movies to be direct sequels of one another. But some degree of internal consistency would be appreciated to build a richer universe.

There were a lot of changes between this animated feature and the original comic book, so you may be better off not comparing the two so much. Just looking at the roster of heroes and villains being faced and
*SPOILERS* the big swap of Ra's al Ghul with Vandal Savage (Phil Morris), you know you're getting a new story entirely. But it does't mean it's a bad story - it turns out to be one that manages to adopt a lot of the core principles and plot points that made the original comic so compelling.

I have to admit that I liked this movie a lot more than some of the others that had been released prior. The voice casting was pretty spot on, especially given they leaned on fan favorites in terms of voices with the likes of Kevin Conroy and Nathan Fillion filling up the bench. It certainly made for much more interesting viewing as you stop wondering what feels somewhat "off" about mis-cast characters as was my experience previously.

The overall story was still great and one that really showcases Batman's paranoia and to what lengths he might go in order to get the job done. His obsession with justice, revenge and the overall safety of the human race is admirable even if somewhat scary at times. But that degree of edge and devotion to purely logical solutions is part of the overall complexity that makes Batman such a great character.

I'm not all that happy with some of the traps they designed for some of the heroes. Yes, they had to come up with new stuff since they used a different JLA roster than in the comic, but some of the decisions didn't seem all that great or even that effective once you really gave it thought. But this may be more of a purely personal opinion and we may be better of just agreeing to disagree.

Justice League: Doom is definitely one of the best DC Universe Animated Movies I've seen and one that is worth acquiring you should have the opportunity. It gets a impressive 4.5 scenes of the League members suffering or struggling to survive out of a possible 5.

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