Animated Film Injustice is DC’s Best ‘Worst’ Story
Most people first met DC Comics Injustice, a 1-on-1 fighting game featuring new versions of iconic heroes. Shortly after the game, which had a very limited narrative, DC naturally produced a Injustice comic series. This year, they gave the Injustice story the animated film treatment. As usual from the animation side of DC, the film is a faithful and moving adaptation. The problem is, Injustice’s story is rough if you like any of these characters. Batman and Superman are mostly allies, but their clashes are always epic. Yet in this version of the tale the cost of this feud between gods and men is incredibly high.
If you like a version of Injustice, you might like this animated movie. It hits all the important beats, and while it’s not as over the top as the game, the fights are up to the mark. If you want a panel-by-panel adaptation of the entire story of the comic book or game, this isn’t it. It’s a tight narrative that’s a watch for the diehards and a great entry point for those who don’t know what. Injustice is about. The cast includes talents like Anson Mount (Batman), Gillian Jacobs (a perfect Harley Quinn) and Kevin Pollak (double duty as Joker and Pa Kent). Even if they ultimately decide to do it live, it feels like the higher version of this story. But this story stinks and I don’t like how it makes me feel. Let’s talk about it.
Spoilers for the Injustice game, animated film and comic book series to follow.
Animated film Injustice hurts more because heroes look more familiar
Image via Warner Bros.
An interesting thing about the game and the comic book series is that all of our favorite DC characters (except Plastic Man) look totally different. So there is already an element of distance. This series picks up the inciting incident from the classic Elseworlds story of the 1990s kingdom come but increases the number of victims by several orders of magnitude. Bored with Batman, Joker travels to Metropolis and facilitates the death of Lois Lane. Using Scarecrow’s fear gas, he tricks Superman into killing Lois Lane, who he just found out was pregnant with his child. In addition, the Flash is also removed. To make matters worse, once Lois dies, a dead man’s switch is tripped on a nuclear bomb. Metropolis and its 11 million citizens are devastated. Mad with grief, Superman kills the Joker with a punch. From there, the story asks, “What if Superman becomes Peacemaker?”
Again, this story shares a lot of DNA with kingdom come, from Superman running a super-prison to Wonder Woman being his closest ally. Yet things turn out so much more tragically. When I say this is the “worst” story in DC, I mean “this is the darkest timeline”. The Flash is beheaded in the opening, then Metropolis is destroyed. The Justice League splits up. They start to take sides, with Damien Wayne’s Robin and Dick Grayson’s Nightwing at odds. In a moment of anger, Damien accidentally kills Dick. It’s brutal in any side of the story. However, beware when at this part of the Injustice animated movie, you might find yourself an adult tearing up a cartoon with swear words.
Bloody, high body count, but at least this version of Injustice Ends
Image via Warner Bros.
Where the comic book suffers, unfortunately, is that for the show’s story to continue, things just have to get worse. This movie, however, is still fun despite all the tragedy. Oliver Hudson’s Plastic Man and Reid Scott’s Green Arrow delight every time they’re on screen. Harley is fun, even though her transformation into a Harley hero doesn’t have as much space as it does in the comics. This is, by its very nature, an incomplete story compared to the vast scope of other iterations of the Injustice universe. I mean, for Orko’s sake, in the comics, they teamed up with everyone’s He-Man. Maybe like those storytellers, I lost the plot there. And as interesting as this story is, I don’t want to repeat it. I’ll read the last issue. May be. The animated film is perhaps my favorite version of Injustice because it’s a much tighter, more linear storyline than the games or the comics.
In fact, I strongly suspect that more films in the Injustice series will be coming. There’s something very appealing about seeing one of the worst timelines for these characters we all appreciate so much. So if that’s your bag, these movies (or games and comics) are for you. But for fans like me – who really only enjoy being soaked in unease – the animation Injustice The film delivers a quick shot of this sweet, sweet tragedy. And, you can then revisit your favorite animated Superman as a stopgap.
Even though this is the only Injustice story to be adapted, it continues the streak of the DC Animated Films division by coming up with solid adaptations of the comic book storylines. The universe of shared continuity that ended with Justice League Dark: Apokolips War did the New 52 better than the comics, in my opinion. Whether you enjoyed the release of the Warner Bros. movies or not. DC for the past decade or so, there’s no denying that these animated films feature fun comedic stories for teenagers and older audiences.
The Injustice The animated film is currently available from your preferred film supplier.
What do you think? Do you like the animated version of the Injustice story? Where do you think they got it right or got it wrong? Share your thoughts, reactions and hopes for the future of this universe in the comments below.
Image presented via Warner Bros.
Joshua M. Patton is a father, veteran, and writer living in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The first books he read on his own were comics, and he’s loved this medium ever since. He is the galaxy’s greatest star pilot, a cunning warrior, and a good friend. His book “What I Learned: Stories, Essays, and More” is available in print on Amazon and from all electronic booksellers.