Justice League: War – Review

Justice League War blu-ray box

A theater full of excited fans and I braved a blizzard in New York City to attend the world premiere of Justice League: War at the Paley Center. I can’t lie, I was both excited and apprehensive when I took my seat. I was excited because Justice League: War represents a new initiative in the DC Animated Universe. Producer James Tucker has a vision of the films now operating under a shared continuity. I was also excited for the talent that Andrea Romano cast to be in the movie. I’m an unabashed fan of Justin Kirk and wanted to see what he brought to Green Lantern. But I still had a lingering apprehension, which stemmed from the source material. I love Geoff Johns and I love Jim Lee, but I found the story in Justice League: Origin to be a bit underwhelming. Not to say I didn’t like their run on Justice League. I own all of the issues and even a page of Jim Lee’s original art from #5. I just wanted more from that story.

Justice League: War brings the more.

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Screenwriter Heath Corson and Director Jay Oliva make a number of improvements to the Justice League: Origin story in Justice League: War. My favorite line in Justice League: Origin, “Who’s Bruce Wayne?” is still here, but it’s moved much earlier in the story. It definitely works better in its new spot. Later, Bruce’s unmasking to Hal, which I remember being a big sore point for fans when the comic was released feels much more organic in the movie. The scene is now an inspiring one and seems to fit perfectly into the narrative. The biggest change to story is Vic Stone’s transformation into Cyborg. In the Justice League comic, his cyborg body is basically built out of a bunch of spare parts that his dad had lying around. But in the movie, his cyborg half stems from the techno-organic virus-like goo that transforms beings into parademons. I feel this new origin works better, because it gives Victor something to overcome. Vic is still saved by his father Silas when he’s near death, but this method gets Vic back in the game much more quickly.

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Corson’s humor definitely shines in the script, and because of that, I feel that this is a superhero movie that non-comics fans can enjoy alongside comic book fans. It has that same wink and a nod tone that the best episodes of Justice League Unlimited had. Whether it’s Batman and Green Lantern’s verbal jabbing, the ice cream scene with Wonder Woman, or even just the reactions characters give to certain lines, the humor makes this movie stand out. And don’t think for one second that this comes at the cost of making the movie feel silly. Just the opposite. Corson plays the humor in a way that heightens the seriousness of the threat. And it makes sense. Thematically, Darkseid is the absence of all joy, so of course the heroes should have a tinge of mirth to them.

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Jay Oliva can really direct a fight scene. At NYCC, Jay said he wanted Justice League: War to be balls to the wall action, and man did he deliver! This might be the most action-heavy DC animated movie yet. The movie revs up quickly and does not slow down for the most part. Oliva does take small breaks from the action, but this keeps things from getting monotonous. There’s a fine line that separates great action from overdoing it, and Jay walks that line well.

As you watch the movie, you may notice the pace of the story has been dramatically increased. In the comic, the story played out over a few days, but here it’s been reduced to one night. It’s almost like Justice League: 24. The shortened timetable both increases suspense and raises the stakes.

I really liked the character design work by Phil Bourassa. He took Jim Lee’s New 52 designs and improved on them for the movie. This is particularly true for the parademons. Gone are the bugged out red eyes that defined Lee’s parademons for me. Bourassa’s parademons don’t even have eyes…unless that’s them on their chins. Bourassa also designed a very cool Wonder Woman costume. It’s the most athletic looking Wonder Woman costume I can remember, while retaining all of Wonder Woman’s iconic pieces…the tiara, the bracelets, the lasso, the boots and the chest plate symbol.


Andrea Romano cast what I would call a perfect cast for this movie. Sure, I’ll always want Nathan Fillion to voice Green Lantern and Kevin Conroy to voice Batman, but they’re not always available, and you will not hear any complaints from me on the casting of Justin Kirk and Jason O’Mara in their stead. Christopher Gorham’s take on The Flash is what I found most interesting. It’s definitely not the voice for Barry Allen that I hear in my head when I read the comics, but his choices on he played Barry make sense. He gives Allen a definitive cop voice, which makes sense, because Allen is a cop. I think Gorham and Romano took a risk with playing Barry Allen this way, but it’s a risk that paid off. Gorham speaks quickly as he voices The Flash. He has a knack for speaking quickly. During the panel after the screening, he let the audience know that he’s a trained auctioneer. You can listen to clip of him training the audience on how to be an auctioneer right here:

In my opinion, Justice League: War is the new reigning champ among DC animated movies. And I say this as a HUGE fan of Under the Red Hood and Batman: The Dark Knight Returns Part 1 and Part 2. I think the crew there are operating on all cylinders, which makes me very excited for Batman: Son of Batman, their next release. If you are a fan of the Justice League, consider Justice League: War a must-see!

Justice League: War is available for digital download right now and will be released on Blu Ray and DVD on February 4. You can preorder it on Amazon right now.

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“Where’s The Flash?”

Tuesday Night Movies is running a contest where one lucky winner will take home a copy of Justice League: War, signed by Christopher Gorham of Covert Affairs, who voices The Flash in the movie. While interviewing him at the premiere last night, I pointed out that The Flash wasn’t on the poster for Justice League: War. The fan who makes the best poster for Justice League: War that includes The Flash will win a signed Blu Ray combo pack of Justice League: War by Christopher Gorham and a follow from him on Twitter! You can find all the details on how to enter here.