Movie ReviewsJosh Reviews Injustice

Josh Reviews Injustice

Injustice is the latest DC animated movie, based on the videos game Injustice: Gods Among Us, as well as the variety of comic book series that expanded upon those games.  (The film’s credits specifically site the comic book series Injustice: Gods Among Us: Year One by Tom Taylor.)  In the story, the Joker finally goes too far and a vengeful Superman murders him.  This leads to a schism between the DC superheroes, with Superman, Wonder Woman and a variety of other characters declaring that enough is enough and it’s time for them to stop playing defense and finally take control and make the world a better place.  Batman, meanwhile, gathers a group of other characters to defend freedom and oppose those heroes who have followed Superman and set out to take over the world.

I came into this series knowing nothing about the Injustice video games or comics.  But I was interested in the premise.  I’m always up for an alternate universe story taking famous comic book characters into new directions, and the idea of a Batman versus Superman story always has juicy potential.

Sadly, I was underwhelmed by this animated film.  There were certainly some fun bits, but it didn’t wow me the way I’d hoped.  The animation is solid but I really disliked the character designs.  The scowling, huge-chested Batman is particularly hideous.  I found the look to be very blocky and inartful.  I didn’t care for that at all.

Worse, the story was superficial and fairly obvious.  As soon as a pregnant Lois Lane appeared in the early scenes, I knew, ugh, I bet she’s going to be killed.  And sure enough, that’s what happened.  In 2021 I think using the death of a female character as motivation for a male character is not a good look.  The film makes a number of poor choices like that.  One that particularly jumped out at me is that Superman’s first action when he decides to end crime is — rather than doing anything within the United States — he goes to a foreign country run by brown people and takes control.  I really rolled my eyes at that behind-the-times simplistic notion of depicting evil-doers by showing us foreign dark-skinned people.

It’s interesting to see superhero characters pushed into difficult places.  A question that many writers/artists have asked of superhero characters is why they don’t do more to use their powers to make the world a better place.  There’s an inherent tension between these characters fighting evil while also being the keepers of the status quo that can be the basis for interesting stories.  There are kernels of those interesting elements in this film, but the story moves too fast for the film to spend too much time exploring those ideas.  Superman becomes a murderous villain far too fast for my taste.  And Wonder Woman is treated even worse, basically acting like a fascist right from the beginning.  At one point she spots off about “entrenched elites and special interests” like a right wing talk-show host.  Ugh.

Like several recent DC animated films (such as the two-part adaptation of Batman: The Long Halloween), this film played up the Batman-Catwoman romance, which has had a lot of prominence in the comics for the past few years.  I didn’t really grow up with the idea that Batman and Catwoman were a destined-for-one-another romantic pair, so it’s interesting to see their relationship getting a lot of cross-media play these days.

As is usually the case for these DC animated films, the voice cast is terrific.  Justin Hartley (Green Arrow on Smallville) and Anson Mount (Captain Christopher Pike on Star Trek: Discovery) are both great as Superman and Batman, respectively.  No one can ever best Arleen Sorkin, who originated the character of Harley Quinn on Batman: The Animated Series, but Gillian Jacobs (Community) does great work.  Kevin Pollak is fun and makes some interesting choices as the Joker.  Faran Tahir (Iron Man, the 2009 Star Trek movie) is fantastic as Ra’s al Ghul.  (I wish he had more to do in the film!)  I hated the character of Wonder Woman in this film, but Janet Varney (Korra from The Legend of Korra) is great voicing her.  It’s fun to hear Reid Scott (Veep) as both Green Arrow and Victor Zsasz.

I wish the story was stronger and there weren’t so many plot holes.  Why don’t we get to see any real reaction from the people of the world after Metropolis gets nuked?  Wouldn’t that be a cataclysmic, world-shaking event?  I wish it wasn’t so telegraphed that Robin (Damian Wayne) would switch sides.  I like the Dick Grayson stuff in the film, but I rolled my eyes that they called him “Deadbird”.  Ugh.  Why does Ra’s offer Superman the Amazo android (something that I don’t believe Ra’s has ever been connected to in the comics) instead of using the Lazarus pits to resurrect Lois Lane?  How did Plastic Man destroy the indestructible Amazo from inside it?  (Amazo is supposed to be indestructible — from either side of its armor!)  Why does the alternate universe “good” Superman try to beat this universe’s violent Superman with more violence??  That’s dumb — Superman should win through kindness, not more hitting.  Why don’t the alternate universe Superman and pregnant Lois have more to say to one another?

So, yeah, this one didn’t quite do it for me…

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