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The DC animated universe continues to grow. The latest installment, Justice League Dark, was released on DVD and Blu Ray February 7th (already available in digital download). Justice League Dark takes a look at the murkier, more supernatural world of the DC universe and introduces some of the more magical characters that DC has to offer. ComiConverse contributor Abel Loza gives his take on the newest DC movie.
“This one has one has cheated us many times. It’s vexing.”
— Justice League Dark
Review: Justice League Dark (Animated Movie)
People across the globe are starting to panic when they being to see demons in place of their loved ones, causing them to murder the ones they know, who they are mistaking for demons. As the Justice League attempts to stop some of these murders from happening, they also wonder if the reason for this outbreak of murders is something beyond their control. Superman and Wonder Woman suggest it might be magic. Batman, conversely, wants to exhaust all conventional possibilities before he is willing to agree it’s magic.
After seeing the literal writing on the wall, Batman seeks Constantine find an answer that will bring an end to the killings. The Justice League Dark crew, which consists of: Etrigan the Demon/ Jason Blood, Deadman, Zatanna, Swamp Thing, Batman and Constantine work to uncover the cause of this supernatural attack.
I am a huge Justice League Dark fan. I have gone out of my way to collect most the Justice League: Dark run started during the New52 relaunch. I’m still waiting for the Rebirth relaunch of a Justice League Dark. But while I wait for that to happened, the animated film for Justice League Dark will hold me over for a while. This was a strong entry into the DC animated universe, and one that was sorely needed after the mixed reviews of The Killing Joke.
Director Jay Olivas, who is no stranger to the DC animated universe, knew how to mix black comedy with the heavier, darker tone. This was the second R-rated film in the DC Animated Universe and, unlike The Killing Joke, the R rating did not feel like a forced R. That rating works well with Constantine’s character and his portrayal in the movie feels natural.
Constantine’s success as a character is partially due to the exceptional voice work of Matt Ryan. If you saw a single minute of the Constantine TV show (which was really good), you’d know that Matt Ryan was born to play Constantine and I’m glad that this his portrayal of the character has translated so well into this animated film.
A change that was made for the movie was the addition of Batman. As a Batman fan, I welcomed this with open arms, although I understand why some object to his inclusion since the Justice League Dark team is supposed to highlight lesser known characters. In the film, Batman doesn’t overwhelm the story and is only used when necessary.
The main issue with the movie is its brevity. Because they are trying to tell a big story in 70 minutes, some of the characters get lost in the shuffle and the story can become a bit convoluted at times. There are too many origin stories in a short amount of time, and the plot suffers. Some characters were also underserved, most notably for me, Swamp Thing.
Ever since I was a kid, I have loved Swamp Thing. Wes Craven’s Swamp Thing may be what hooked me. I know that the story and plot uses the tension between Constantine and Swamp Thing, but selfishly, I wanted more Swamp Thing. My hope is that the lack of closure for Swamp Thing’s story-arc leaves the door open for a solo animated movie.
The release of a Justice League Dark animated movie could point to a bigger project; one that will be featured on the big screen. Although originally associated with Guillermo Del Toro, reports now indicate that director Doug Liman (Edge of Tomorrow, The Bourne Identity) will take over a “Dark Universe.” If a Dark Universe was created within the DCEU, that could be the more appealing of the two. With the release of Marvel’s Doctor Strange, it is DC’s turn to showcase their version of magic. What better way to do that, than to unleash the Justice League Dark?
The Justice League Dark animated movie was a great way for fans of the comic to get their fix while either a new film is developed, or another comic book run is written. Although at times the plot can be a bit dense, the character arcs and characterization make the movie worthwhile viewing and even exciting to watch. The addition of Batman was a plus as he bridged to the established DCEU for those who are new to Justice League Dark. Overall I’m looking forward to what DC has planned for these characters as Constantine and Swamp Thing are two of my favorite characters.
Justice League Dark is out now digitally and has a physical release date of February 7th. Go check it out.
Abel Loza is a Contributor to ComiConverse. Follow him on Twitter: @St_Abel45
A must watch if you are a Justice League Dark fan. This is also a good introduction for those who perhaps are not familiar with the supernatural characters of the DC universe.