The new DCAU is well underway with it’s second installment, Justice Society: World War II. How’d it do? Let’s take a look at the good and the bad.
1:Wonder Woman: She is featured front and center on the cover art and it’s earned. It seems the folks over at DC animation have decided to take the Gal Gadot version of the iconic trinity member and bring her into animation. Not only does this 1940’s version have Gadot’s accent, but her action sequences seem to pay homage to those from the 2017 film as well as the most recent ZSJL. In fact, the only thing that came to mind while seeing her opening battle in the WWII context was Gal Gadot.
She is 100% a highlight of this movie and, on many occasions, carries it. Her relationship with Steve Trevor is a grounding element to an otherwise montage of pure kick-ass. The underwater assualt? Forget it.
2. Animation: I can’t believe I’m really saying this but, for animation that completely turned me off in the trailers, I am now completely sold. There is something classic about it that makes it feel respectful of the golden age where these characters are born and the use of color is captivating. I think it’s brilliantly unique and I appreciate this new interconnected DCAU will continue to follow the example of its predeccesor by keeping a cohesive aesthetic. Love it.
3. Fight Scenes: As mentioned above, Wonder Woman’s action sequences here are some of the best in animation I have seen in a while. Her movements are really accented with her long limbs. Aquaman’s fluid movement with his trident is incredible. Even the supporting characters have some great moments; Black Canary in particular with her third act attack. It’s the kind of stuff you want to see from a DC animated movie; not just your typical punches and blows, but to really get into the physics of each hero and give them unique styles of combat to diversify the project.
4. Surprises: I was ready to see the Justice Society, but was pleasently surprised to see other prominent characters make appearances. Superman has a fair share of involvment in the project even though he was left out of promotion. Aquaman was a shock to see (more on that below), and Doctor Fate’s cryptic cameo was appreciated.
The movie was really trying to further lay the groundwork for the interconnected universe and some of that really paid off! Other things… Let’s talk about it.
1: Too Many People: As much as I loved seeing so many DC characters in this movie the truth is the majority didn’t need to be there. The movie was titled Justice Society so I suppose the creators felt it was necessary to include Hourman, Hawkman, and Golden Age Flash. However, they felt ill used and not necessary. I think this film would have benefited more if it was just a Wonder Woman WWII movie. She and Steve Trevor are the center piece and their plot is the only one that binds directly to the Flash’s ultimate conclusion (proposing to Iris with Steve’s ring).
I can understand wanting to include characters to promote sales and viewership, but when it starts to take away from the characters actually carrying the thing it can start to feel like white noise. If there is a desire to do a Justice Society movie, then DO a Justice Society movie without forcing League members into it in order to carry it.
2. Wait, What is This About?: One complaint I have about this movie is the same complaint I had about the new DCAU’s first installment, Superman: Man of Tomorrow. Both movies have these outstanding first acts. We had Superman fighting Lobo across this beautiful interpretation of Metropolis where Martian Manhunter makes his debut. Here we had this outstanding WWII layout where the heroes of the 40’s are doing their best to save the world while knowing they have to keep themselves secret. However, both movies eventually ditch their original paths and ultimately become kaiju movies?
Aquaman’s presence is explained before the third act but it just does NOT work. Less is more! Both films felt like they were trying to do too much and it’s felt. This went in as a WWII movie and by the end I forgot what we were doing here. There were certainly great moments! Yet there was a lack of cohesion in the execution.
3. Eh: Overall, I have to say the movie has its moments but it’s a bit of a mess. It would have been a much better film had it just been the Flash going back in time to do a teamup movie with Wonder Woman.
The next installment for the DCAU is going to be Batman: The Long Halloween. So, clearly the game plan is to focus on the trinity introductions with strong supporting roles. Unfortunately, The Long Halloween, if the adaptation will be faithful to the book, is exclusively a Batman tale. It will however feature a great deal of his rogues gallery.
I have to give Justice Society: World War II a 2 out of 5 potatoes