On July 28th, 2015, DC Animated Original Movies released Justice League: Gods and Monsters. This release was a little different from most of their other recent releases. With Gods and Monsters, they have brought back to the original animation style that began with the hugely successful Batman: The Animated Series. The story is also brought to us by two of the men that brought us the great Batman: The Animated Series, Bruce Timm, and Alan Burnett.
For the record, one thing I think DC comics does very well is their alternate timeline/universe stories. Batman By Gaslight, or Red Son are just a couple of examples of this. Justice League: Gods and Monsters is no different, and brings yet another interpretation of this great tradition to the DC Animated Universe.
Normally when these types of stories are done, they have the same characters and just alter the world in which they live. Batman is still Bruce Wayne, and Superman is still the son of Jor-El and Lara. What Burnett and Timm have done with this reworking changes even that. None of the characters in the story are who they are in the regular universe, but they have a familiar feel to them.
Superman has a different father, as well as adopted parents. The person who becomes Batman, was a villain in the main continuity, and Wonder Woman is a transplant from another world but this time it’s not a mythical island (and her name isn’t Diana). And it isn’t just these characters that have been taken and mixed around in ways you wouldn’t expect, but rather the whole world.
Almost as good as the movie that was released is the short films released online. One each for Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman. Each gives us a taste of this new character and other aspects of the world they live in, one that is different from the original but with so many familiar names and places that it keeps you waiting to see the next one pop up. In addition to these changes is the darker tone to the stories in general. While they are not as dark as what can be found in the pages of the comics, it is a departure to the family-friendly animated films up to this point.
While this is not the best DC animated film out there, it’s a lot better than most. At least the changes happening here make complete sense and don’t insult those of us who actually read the comics these stories are based off of. The story is solid. The action is there, and it’s amazing how they are able to take these characters, with all of their changes, and still keep them somehow close to the essence of the originals.
The movie, and the three shorts introducing the characters online is just the start. Coming in 2016, there will be a 10-episode season two, with the three, already-released shorts, and the movie itself, being considered season one.
Do yourself a favor, get this movie and watch the shorts online. They are well written, with great animation.