Hello interweb, Nate here. So Bruce Timm, who was the man responsible for the DCAU, is making a brand new DC animated movie! Considering that Justice League: War (which Bruce Timm was not a part of whatsoever) was the first of the bad DC animated movies to have come out in recent years, it’s nice to see a man who actually knows what he’s doing take a shot at it. But this isn’t it, right?…Right?…Riiiight????
So Justice League: Gods and Monsters is an upcoming DC animated movie (July 28) produced and written by DCAU creator Bruce Timm set in an alternate universe that is darker and more “realistic” than the normal DCU. Justice League: Gods and Monsters Chronicles is a miniseries found on Machinima’s YouTube channel featuring 3, 5-minute long episodes showing us what Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman will be like in the movie. Since “Chronicles” is our first look at the movie, I thought I’d take a look and discuss my opinions on what we know about the movie so far.
The first episode if called “Twisted” and features this universe’s version of Batman as he investigates a warehouse where Harley Quinn (whose a lot more insane and has less clothing than even the New 52 version) has kidnapped and killed people as well as mutilated their bodies to form toys and mannequins. This episode is by far my least favorite of the three. First off, this episode is by far the darkest. Personally, I’ve always liked Batman best when his stories are a little dark and violent as many of his villains have psychological disorders and so you kinda need to make the stories violent to fully express them (I am not saying that everyone with psychological disorders are psychopaths, I’m just saying that Batman’s rogues are). The problem is that the violence here is not really necessary for the story. If a story just happens to be dark than it’s often written well; but if it’s clear that the story is just dark for the sake of being dark than it’s just for shock value. For this 5-minute clip, we don’t really know the story beyond “Harley Quinn kidnapped and killed these people so Batman went after her” so the violence is there purely for the shock value.
Although the violence isn’t even the worst part. I really dislike what they did with the characters. Let’s go over Harley first since (as far as I can tell) she won’t be in the actual movie. I really hate what they did with her here. First off, why the heck is Harley Quinn wearing that get-up? This costume would make her New 52 version blush. The thing is while I disliked how the New 52 gave her a more revealing outfit, I actually liked her personality (albeit, not as much as her DCAU version) as it did give her some independence as a character and didn’t make her completely dependent on Joker. With that said, her insanity here is just for shock value. You could say that the modern super-psycho Joker is just for shock value, but it’s actually more than that. Joker being as psychotic as he is and his – er – relationship with Batman is interesting as he pushes Batman’s buttons to the point where Batman questions why he allows Joker to live. We don’t have that complex relationship here so there’s nothing to see beyond the shock value of Harley Quinn.
Batman in this isn’t that well done either but not as bad as Harley. Design wise, I miss the cape but I do kinda like the Batman Beyond inspired design for this alternate reality version of the character. The thing I don’t like is how he’s basically a vampire in this version…no, seriously. In this universe, Kirk Langstrom (better known as Man-Bat) is Batman instead of Bruce Wayne. Wikipedia describes him as follows: “Batman is Kirk Langstrom, a scientist who has inadvertently transformed himself into a vampire in an attempt to cure his cancer, feeding on criminals to satisfy his hunger.” The thing is, a vampiric superhero does sound interesting (I can see it as either an anti-hero who drinks the blood of criminals or a hero that fights his vampiric urges), but Batman just isn’t a vampire. The whole point to this is to show that Batman (as well as the rest of the Justice League) is A-okay with killing people. I would be fine with this if the moral of the story was “this is not what Batman should be like” (like Knightfall) but it isn’t; it’s just to make the movie darker. I just really don’t like the idea of Batman being a murderer (even if it isn’t technically Bruce Wayne), just doesn’t make the character as deep.
The second episode is “Bomb” and features Superman saving Metropolis from Brainiac (whose a baby in this version). Basically, Amanda Waller and Doctor Sirvana (Google ’em) created Brainiac to keep Superman in check(so…why did they make him a baby?) but he couldn’t control his powers and created a sort of energy field that began destroying Metropolis. While this episode is pretty dark as Superman straight up kills Brainiac in the end (I’ll get to that in a second), it’s no where near as dark or bad as “Twisted”. In fact, the story itself is alright, it’s the characters that I don’t really like.
Superman is the son of Zod in this version so he’s styled off of him with facial hair. On top of that, he wears a trench coat with a blue shirt and pants with a red belt that has an “S” on it. While it’s not exactly his iconic look, I can’t really complain about it besides the facial hair (which looks dumber than his mullet in the 90’s). It’s his personality that kinda bugs me. I guess Bruce Timm really liked Man of Steel as Superman (uncharacteristically) walked by a bus full of people during Brainiac’s attack and then heat visioned him in the brain. Similarly to Batman, I just personally don’t like the idea of Superman killing. The difference here is that Superman couldn’t really avoid it as there was no other way to stop Brainiac. I honestly don’t know how I feel about this.
The final episode is “Big” and features Wonder Woman fighting Hydra with Steve Trevor. Hydra built Giganta (whose a giant blue robot in this) and the two fight it off. Again, the story is fine but I don’t like Wonder Woman here. For one, when Steve Trevor tells her he can fight Giganta himself I feel like Wonder Woman should’ve argued against it as she would normally love a fight, but here she sits back and make snarky comments. Guess it’s mostly a nitpick but it bugged me. I also don’t like her design. The odd thing about Wonder Woman is that I usually don’t know my stance on her costume. I usually dislike artists straying away from a characters iconic design, but when that design is a woman in an American flag-themed bathing suit than I won’t really argue against a few changes here or there (kind of an odd situation). But in this redesign, the cleavage is left wide open for the world to see while everything else is covered in armor. That just doesn’t make any sense beyond “guys are gonna watch this”. If your gonna stray away from the iconic design, than why create a battle-ready armor that leave an opening for viewers – um – enjoyment.
Overall I’d give this series a 1.5/5. While I know it’s set in an alternate universe, I don’t like the unnecessary changes that are made for mostly shock value. All things considered, how do I feel about the upcoming movie? Well, I don’t know. Bruce Timm stated that he was glad he wasn’t gonna have to worry about being censored, and freedom from that can be blessing, but he’s kinda going overboard with his freedom here. On one end we have beloved characters that are doing things that they would normally not do for the sake of shock value, but on the other end it’s being made by the creator of the DCAU who I know can make some amazing stories. What do you guys think so far?