Justice League: Gods and Monsters takes us to an alternate DC universe where Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman, aren’t the heroes we think we know, but a despotic group of souls who answer to no one but themselves. In this alternate universe, Superman (voiced by Benjamin Bratt) was not raised by the Kent’s in Smallville; he’s still a son of Krypton whose father was General Zod (Bruce Thomas). Batman is not Bruce Wayne, but Kirk Langstrom (Michael C. Hall) a scientist turned vampire, after an experimental injection envisioned to cure his cancer has inadvertent consequences. Wonder Woman (Tamara Taylor) is Bekka, daughter of Highfather of the New Gods. Despite their obvious differences, even in this alternate universe, the Justice League is at odds with Lex Luthor (Jason Isaacs) is busily planning to get rid of them.
The Justice League finds themselves under scrutiny after the scientist Victor Fries (Jim Meskimen) is found dead and drained in the arctic. Some viewers may be turned off because this isn’t your average DC adventure, and this story does take some patience to fully grasp. Writers Bruce Timm and Alan Burnett (creators of Batman: The Animated Series (1992-1995) reveal Superman’s altered origins in the beginning, and slowly, but interestingly explain Batman and Wonder Woman. Timm and Burnett have created some characteristics that lend themselves to further exploration, and in my opinion, insure that the animated DC universe will never grow stale. Of course, this doesn’t mean that DC ought to completely abandon the superhero mythology that is known and loved by so many (me, included), it’s just good to stir things up on occasion. Oh, and the epic showdown is worth waiting for!
The voice cast is pretty solid. Benjamin Bratt is perfectly cast as the darker Superman raised by a Mexican family. Paget Brewster is so perfect as Lois Lane that I couldn’t help but imagine what she might add to a live-action film. He brings just the right amount of authority to the role. While Michael C. Hall doesn’t have the ‘deep’ voice associated with most Batman’s, his work is an interesting twist on things. Tamara Taylor does fine work as Wonder Woman.
Presented in the 1.78:1 aspect ratio, Warner Brothers’ 1080p presentation is quite pleasing. Detail is sharp and clean throughout. Compression artifacts aren’t an issue, though there is occasionally some slight banding when the animated figures are in motion. Blacks are accurate and the colors pop.
The English DTS-HD MA 5.1 audio serves the film quite well. The occasional use of directionality is surprisingly strong, and the moody score by Frederik Wiedmann comes across well. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout.
English SDH, Spanish and French subtitles are included.
The following extras are included:
- A Sneak Peek at DC Universe’s Next Animated Movie: Batman: Bad Blood (HD, 11:45) Crew and voice cast interviews are complimented by clips, storyboards, and artwork.
- Alternate Realities: Infinite Possibilities (HD, 19:24) Michael Carling, creative director of DC Animation, and Dan DiDio, co-publisher of DC Comics, and screenwriters Bruce Timm and Alan Burnett discuss the history of alternate realities in DC Comics.
- Calculated Risks: The Making of Justice League: Gods and Monsters (HD, 23:37) A discussion of how this film came to be.
- The New Gods (HD, 22:13) A brief history of writer/artist Jack Kirby’s creation of the New Gods in 1970.
From The DC Comics Vault:
- “Phantoms” (SD, 22:25) from Legion of Superheroes
- “Brave New Metropolis” (SD, 21:19) from Superman: The Animated Series
- DVD Copy of the film.
- UV Digital Copy of the film