Movie Review: Justice League Gods and Monsters
The latest DC Animated film, Justice League: Gods and Monsters sees the return of Superman: The Animated Series showrunner Bruce Timm. Credited as producer and with story conception, the film carries the look of Timm's previous body of work in the DCU. The simplified but iconic character designs will be familiar to fans of the animated Justice League and Unlimited series, but the very dark tonal shift will be readily apparent and further typifies Warner Animation's attempt to bring mature and complex material to their cartoons.
The film is an 'Elseworlds' tale at heart; it features a vastly different JL than most will be familiar. Superman, through a twist of fate, is the son of Zod, not Jor-El, and has a much more militant and less forgiving stance on crime. Batman is not Bruce Wayne, but Kurt Langstrom, also known in original continuity as Man-Bat. Here, Langstrom is changed by his formula into a blood drinking vampire. The mantle of Wonder Woman is Bekka, the New God granddaughter of High Father who is on Earth in escape of New Genesis. Together these three make a darkly violent and truly formidable team that sees the world not necessarily embracing the trio the way the main DCU's borderline idolatry that our familiar Justice League commands. When this negative publicity extends to being framed for murder, the JL must discover who has been able to mimic their abilities and for what reason they have been set up.
Filled with a number of memorable and tightly choreographed setpieces, Gods and Monsters certainly doesn't let up in the action department. Powers are utilized well and it is always exciting to see Superman, even a different version than the one we know, cutting loose with his abilities. Part of the joy of the film is discovering exactly what is unique and different about this unknown universe and the numerous references peppered throughout the film will have even regular comic readers playing 'Where's Waldo' for all the brief appearances and cameos. While not without fault; Batman and Wonder Woman take a backseat when concerning real character building, Gods and Monsters is one of the better DCU Animated films in quite a while. Not a part of the shared universe of more recent films like Justice League: War and the recently released Batman Vs. Robin, Gods and Monsters is able to take chances and play for keeps since it isn't building to the next film necessarily. It's perhaps this unpredictability that makes the film so fresh and wholly engaging. Definitely worth a look and if you like it, check out the JL Gods and Monsters comic series.