Review – Justice League: Gods and Monsters (2015) – Not Your Friendly Neighborhood DC Animated Movie

What if…?

What if … Superman wasn’t the herald of truth, justice and the American way?  What if … Batman wasn’t The Caped Crusader but the Darkest of Dark Knights?  What if… Wonder Woman was as terrifyingly savage as she was beautiful?  What if the Justice League wasn’t something to be revered, but to be feared?

We all know the story of Kal-El’s arrival on Earth from the doomed planet, Krypton.  We know the history of young Bruce Wayne, whose parents were murdered on one fateful night.  We also know of the wide-eyed Diana of Themyscira who came to the world of man to bring peace and hope.  Well, these are NOT those heroes we know and love.  In fact, they are someone completely different and much more savage.

This is an alternate reality where the heroes of the Justice League came about in a completely different manner and their tale is one of violence, mistrust and subterfuge.  In fact, these heroes kill – fairly indiscriminately – villains and criminals that threaten the City of Metropolis.  However, the citizens of Metropolis don’t revere these heroes, in fact, they dislike them very much – and for good reason.

What I really liked about this movie was that it turned into a pretty decent “Whodunit…?” mystery.  A threat has emerged that has put the Justice League square in it’s sites and is murdering notable scientists around the world posing as them.  It’s a frame job, the League knows this – but by who?  We know that Lex Luther has no love for Superman or beings with powers, so now it’s a race against time to track down the murderer and the motive before the human world finally rises up against the superpowered titans.

Marvel and DC Comics have each had a line of “What if…?” series that have told the tales of heroes, that due to a certain course of events, turn evil; or heroes born in a noir age; or the same heroes born in another country.  Marvel’s line of “What if…?” stories generally centered around particular events or story lines where they’ve gone further in the story or if events have unfolded differently.  DC’s “Elseworlds” line of comics generally took the heroes and gave them different origins or different characters under the same name.  So this is one of those tales that I feel would comfortably fit in DC’s Elseworlds series.

Who is a hero?  Who is the villain?  This was truly a movie where it was hard to tell.  Honestly, by time we got to the end of the movie, I still wasn’t completely sure who the villain was – and – it was a hell of a surprise.  Thank you for that.  It’s rare when I’m stunned by a reveal.

Final note, this isn’t a kids movie.  There is substantial language and they didn’t do many cutaways of the violence, murder or blood.  This is by far the most bloody, violent and intriguing stories DC Animated Studios has ever produced.  And I don’t mind that at all.

Months prior to this release, DC Animated partnered with Machinima to show off their new team in a few shorts, The Justice League:  Gods and Monsters Chronicles.