Film Review: Justice League Doom (2012)

Justice League Doom
Directed by Lauren Montgomery
Written by Dwayne McDuffie

Rating: B+

With all the criticisms DC Comics has gotten over the past several years over their non-Batman live action film adaptations, at least it can be said that they know exactly what they are doing when it comes to animated features. Justice League Doom, the swan song of the sadly departed writer Dwayne McDuffie, is the thirteenth in the series that has only been going on since 2007. Loosely based on the comic story Tower of Babel by Mark Waid, the basic story revolves around the idea of the villain, in this case Vandal Savage, discovering the secret contingency plans Batman had in place just in case any members of the Justice League were to go rogue. Using the weaknesses against them, Savage assembles a collection of villains to take out the League so that he can start his plans for world domination.

For this particular film, all of the voices of the original Justice League animated series were brought back. Kevin Conroy is Batman, Tim Daly is Superman, Susan Eisenberg is Wonder Woman, Michael Rosenbaum is The Flash, and Carl Lumbly is Martian Manhunter, all of whom played the same roles in the DC Animated Universe series. Newcomers include Nathan Fillion (of Firefly and Castle fame) as the Hal Jordan incarnation of Green Lantern, a role he previously played in the Emerald Knights DC Animated movie, and Bumper Robinson as Cyborg. It is worth noting that the version of the Flash played by Rosenbaum here is Barry Allen, whereas in the original show he was the younger Wally West. Rosenbaum takes the difference between the two characters seriously, and his Allen is clearly distinguishable from his West.

Tower of Babel is one of the cooler Justice League stories in recent memory, and McDuffie’s adaptation for this film is strong. The lineup of the Justice League here is essentially the same as is currently starring in the comic books, with the only exception that this film features Martian Manhunter instead of Aquaman. Taking Waid’s story and telling it with the current incarnation of the League is a smart choice that makes the film feel very current, as if it could be slotted into continuity with the books without any issue. Some of the choices in villains to put the individual members of the League against could have been better (anyone but Bane, please) but the interplay between hero and villain is satisfying in practically every storyline. It is definitely helped by the quality of voice acting which, aside from the aforementioned heroes, features Alexis Denisof as Mirror Master, Olivia d’Abo as Star Sapphire, and a half dozen more, all of whom are at least good if not stellar.

Although there are slow parts around the middle, Justice League Doom is as good as getting new episodes of the Justice League show. Hearing the whole cast return with the addition of Nathan Fillion is a wonderful mix of childhood nostalgia and fanboy giddiness, which is something we can all use more of. It isn’t quite as perfect as it was in comic book form, but this film is definitely worthwhile and will have rewatch value for anyone. It doesn’t hurt that the disc is full of great bonus features. This film should basically please anyone with an interest in the Justice League as a whole or any of the individuals characters featured.