After watching the new DC animated feature, Justice League: Doom, I find myself bursting with nerd rage. I should make this clear up front that this isn’t going to be a fair and balanced review. This is an outlet for me to express my malcontent. If I step back, turn my brain off and forget all that has come before, Justice League: Doom isn’t that bad…but I can’t turn this pesky brain off!
Doom is a cross between the Mark Waid story Tower of Babel and a generic Legion of Doom tale—as anyone who wants to see this film so close to it’s release date probably already knows. DC has been on a tear of adapting comic runs to animated features lately. I’m not a fan. I would much prefer original stories to rehashing the archives, but they didn’t ask me. Over all, their previous ventures stayed pretty true to the source material. Doom not so much. I’d argue each deviation from the Tower of Babel is a mark against the movie. In fact, I will argue it.
More spoilers ahead.
In Tower of Babel, Ra’s Al Ghul uses Batman’s contingency plans against the Justice League so he can move ahead with his plan to thin the world’s population and achieve a perfect environmental balance. In Doom, they substitute Ra’s for Vandal Savage. I assume they did this to avoid confusion since Ra’s personality and motives in the Christopher Nolan movies is a bit at odds with the Ra’s from the comics. Savage was probably the big bad pick because he appeared in the JL animated series a few times, but if that is the case, why the long origin aside that took me out of the story? If you want a leader of the Legion of Doom, you pick Luthor.
Speaking of the Legion, the criminal line up is also a bit different than what you might expect from the comics–or even the Super Friends. Bane is on the team, probably because of the upcoming Dark Knight Rises; Metallo is a staple of the Superman animated universe; Cheetah is the traditional Doom analogue to Wonder Woman; Mirror Master is necessary for the plot; Star Sapphire is popular in the Green Lantern comics currently; and…Bizarro Martian Manhunter? I honestly have no idea who Ma’alefa’ak is.
Savage and the new Legion O’ Doom is a bit bothersome, but I’d overlook all the other deviations if they just kept the contingency plans the same…but they didn’t.
Seriously, spoilers ahead.
Coming into a JLA story, we all accept that certain people can defy gravity for no apparent reason and destroying half the earth is a viable evil scheme, but my suspension of disbelief can only be stretched so thin when the logic within the universe stops making sense. Let’s take these plans point by point.
I’m supposed to believe the plan Batman made to stop Superman was a kryptonite bullet? First of all, does Savage/Luther/Ra’s or anyone else with access to kryptonite really need Batman to come up with that idea? It seems kind of on the nose. In Tower of Babble, Batman synthesized red kryptonite to make Superman’s skin transparent, effectively making Sups too dangerous to operate. That is a bat-plan. Kryptonite bullet? Weaksause. Besides, Batman said his plans were non-lethal. How was he going to make a bullet non-lethal? Shoot him in the knee? In the comics, Superman gave him the bullet, but apparently that doesn’t happen in this universe until the credits. Even if the elaborate deception of the suicidal news guy was supposed to be part of Batman’s plan…how does that work? These contingency plans were meant to stop a rampaging, evil Superman–so why would that Superman care about a guy about to buy the farm?
The second contingency plan I have a problem with is Green Lantern’s. In Tower of Babel, Batman had to take down Kyle Rayner by using his own ring to take away his vision. Kyle is a visual guy, so he couldn’t create constructs without some visual inspiration to draw from. Genius! How did he take down Hal in the movie? He basically bummed him out. I think this definitively answers who is the better Green Lantern. Get with the program, Hal. It’s just a robot.
The Martian Manhunter attack was identical to the original, so no complaints there. The Flash’s attack from the comics involved a vibrating bullet, but I guess that was redundant after Superman. Wonder Woman’s attack was a variation of the original, exploiting her warrior nature. The only things this movie did right were the things it didn’t much change.
The movie’s finale opts for a big fight sequence over really addressing the issues surrounding Batman’s contingency plans. The fight was well done, but Justice League politics and a moral debate over Bat-policies would have been more interesting to this viewer. After all, Superman could have taken down the entire Legion of Doom single handedly if the Flash just took Metallo’s green-K heart out of the mix. (If I wrote these fights they would be much more realistic and anti-climatic.)
Justice League: Doom is a Crisis of Multiple Adaptions. It juggles stories from different decades that at times work together and at others conflict. Any long time reader will see that the seams are rather rough around the edges. If that doesn’t bother you or you just don’t know any better, there is fun to be had. For my money, I’d watch pretty much any other DC animated movie before this one.
Oh, yeah. Cyborg is in it…what’s that about?