Justice League: Crisis On Two Earths
As quick as Marvel has been to take point when it comes to creating a shared movie-verse between multiples films, it seems that DC isn’t that far behind. However, for DC it seems to be a more of an animated movie-verse, or what’s become known as the DCAU. (DC Animated Universe)
DC has, and is continuing to produce, a lot of full length animated features. I just finished JUSTICE LEAGUE: CRISIS ON TWO EARTHS. Yes I realize I’m quite far behind and have 2-3 more titles to catch up on. However, at first I thought this animated feature would be a watered down version of the classic (some may say ‘infamous’) comic book crossover, INFINITE CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS. I was SO wrong.
JUSTICE LEAGUE: CRISIS ON TWO EARTH has a very simple premise: An alternate earth is this close to being enslaved by a crime syndicate of super powered individuals, and that reality’s only remaining super hero comes to the Justice League we know and love for help. What ensues is an awesome role reversing, double seeing, Easter egg filled extravaganza of ear to ear grins for the next, I don’t even know how long. The first ‘WTF’ moment happens when you realize that the superhero from the other reality needing help is none other than Lex Luthor—a good Lex Luthor. I know!
For a straight to DVD animated feature, I didn’t expect a lot of layers in storytelling or intricate sub plots. But I was severely impressed at the complexities of the plot and character development, rivalling that of a live feature complete with ‘stars’. Not to say the voice actors in this feature are any less themselves. In CRISIS ON TWO EARTHS our own JLA has to venture into a parallel Earth to combat their own counterparts. There’s more to it though; the parallel Earth’s government have been made submissive by these super powered criminals, wanting to stay out of their way, rather than fight against them. It’s up to our JLA to show them that might does not mean right. Through their actions and influence, the JLA has to stand up to not just evil versions of themselves, but a familiar villain that threatens not jus Para-Earth, but all reality itself.
The stand outs in this feature have to be Batman, Owlman and J’onn J’onzz. Voiced by William Baldwin, Batman is his usual non trusting, go against the grain self. He initially refuses to help the Para Lex Luthor (leader of his reality’s own Justice League—who’d a think it?!) claiming they’ve got their own problems to deal with on this Earth. But in his own ingenious Batman style he ends up saving the day. Baldwin is able to completely capture Bats’ loner and dark attitude, always preferring to do things his way or no way. Again, for an animated feature, I was surprised that Batman is in true form, being cruel and even sacrificing the life of others to save his teammates. It was a dark take on Batman that I personally didn’t expect in an animated movie. Truly showing us that the DCAU is and can be just as true to form as the comics, maybe even more so than the live-action features.
Owlman, being Batman’s counterpart in the Para-Earth also showed us a great contrast to Batman himself. Voiced by James Woods, Owlman is able to give a completely evil and creepy version of Batman. Woods brings his own awesome flair to this character just nails it! Really, it’s Woods, what more needs to be said about him? There is also a great subplot that shows us the Martian Manhunter’s more… human side.
What makes JUSTICE LEAGUE: CRISIS ON TWO EARTHS stand out, is that it goes beyond the typical ‘evil twin’ version of recognized superheroes fighting it out with their good guy versions. The need to prove to an alternate world that they can stand up and fight for themselves, while foiling a plot that has been adapted to near perfection from the comic books.
This movie, also gives us hope for future Justice League films. While this film really focuses more on Batman, here`s hoping future films will deal with other members of the JLA. There`s also boatloads of special appearances from recognizable characters, and a few absentees as well… but for good reason.
* MAJOR SPOILER ALERT*
The coolest parts are how we really get to see an almost initial Justice League who have just built (or rebuilt) their Watchtower at Batman’s expense, and so far comprise only of 6 members, unlike the comics that have different branches, and coastal versions with a revolving door-like list of members. This film however, sets up a possible future for this JLA in maybe more DCAU films.
The story itself is done amazingly, with mentions of the dreaded DCU Multiverse along with even Earth-PRIME. I thought it was crafty as hell to have Owlman almost imitate Alexander Luthor from the INFINITE CRISIS crossover. The introduction of which makes me think that there may be more Multiverse centric storylines to come out of the DCAU. Also, the addition of some DC Characters and the promise of maybe more members to be inducted into the JLA at the end, confirm that logic.
JUSTICE LEAGUE: CRISIS ON TWO EARTH has really changed the way I see animated features. Seeing a true form Dark Knight, instead of ‘team work Bats’ was a refreshing change in a cartoon—I meant, a legitimate animated feature! The pacing is what really shows promise as it’s not rushed for a film of only 75 minutes. The character development (for some, not all) is brilliant as it fleshes out the already known heroes in a new way. Now, it’s not groundbreaking in any way, but in some ways it really is. I can completely see a series of JUSTICE LEAGUE movies in the future focusing on each member, story arcs adapted from the comics… (imagine a FINAL CRISIS arc! *squeal*) truly becoming a shared movie continuity.