The basic premise of Justice LEague Unlimited was every hero in the DC Universe. This movie focuses mostly on two that were either hardly used or not around when the show ended in 2006. Shortly after was the storyline “Thy Kingdom Come” by Geoff Johns, Dale Eaglesham, and Alex Ross which made Thom Kallor/Starboy/Starman famous (why do I keep talking about Star people being written by Geoff Johns). Jessica Cruz (Green Lantern VII/ Power Ring II) was made in 2014 by Geoff Johns and… There is a big debate on what artist should get credit. I presume the creators were on a Johns marathon, and they wanted to use these popular characters (at least to the comic reading fanbase) and give them some mainstream recognition.
Starboy has paranoid schizophrenia, and Green Lantern has anxiety. The mental health focus was handled well, and it seems to have been universally praised.
It starts with Starboy and a few other members of The Legion of Superheroes trying to stop the Fatal Five from going back in time. The three present members break into a time machine, but Starboy chases in hot pursuit. He succeeds in trapping them inside of it, and Superman recovers it for The Justice League. Unfortunately, he breaks the last of his medicine in the process. He then tries to get more at a pharmacy, which panics the worker since it is a strange costumed man (since this is Gotham a supervillain is most certainly the case), and he is demanding an unknown drug. He thinks the costume is the problem and becomes naked.
In Crisis on two Earths I criticized the nude scene, but here it works much better. The reactions are bigger, and there is some valid reason for both him to do it, and it adding to the plot. It simply works here. Panicked he attacks the police, and then he literally runs into Batman who uses knock out gas on him. Before falling unconscious she says he is looking for “21 Bridges, count them, and the Lime Light.”
After this black comedy about our drugs being useless. the next scene is a murder in the woods. Three people on hike come across a killer burying a victim he shot in the head. He kills two of them, and the third, Jessica Cruz, escapes by falling off a cliff. Most of what makes this so scary is not what I can easily translate to paper. The previous scenes were colorful, plenty of talking, plenty of comedy, and it is vey much superhero fiction. This has much darker light, the pacing is very slow, there is hardly any noise other than some screaming, low music, and most notably gunshots. In addition there is so much false hope in a short period of time. Instead of being attacked they are first on their knees like they have been there for some time. Maybe the killer is trying to find a way around it without killing anyone else (or about attracting noise with his gun). After Jessica escapes there are multiple pauses making it look like the guy did not chase her, only then for the gun or bullets to be visible. There are plenty of scary scenes in Justice League Unlimited, but not ones like this piece of realistic fiction.
She wakes up from the nightmare reliving this moment, and through some exposition from talking to her therapist, visuals, and internal monologue we see and here she is basically stuck in the apartment with its three locks, is trying to find a drug to fix everything while knowing she must find a way to cope, and that she is now a Green Lantern. This is comics accurate except for the part where The First Lantern possessed her and Batman brought her into the Justice League (long story). Wonder woman shows up to say they need work from a Green Lantern with John Stewart fighting a war on Rann (the home of Adam Strange). Jessica looks at her arriving and says “Terrific” which I presume is a reference to some DC fans wanting more content outside of the trinity. That was actually how the series normally worked. Get viewers to come for the original seven member but stay for obscure heroes like Question, Vigilante, and Atom Smasher.
Wonder Woman attacks her to get her actually use the ring. Green Lantern looks like she does in the comics minus the green around her eye and her hair being shorter. After Woman Woman gives some unsuccessful encouragement Green Lantern and the ring have some banter like they do in the comics and walks off.
Next scene Batman and Miss Martian rescue some reporters from a terrorist that I presume is the role model of Mad Stan (a villain in Batman Beyond). I am overall not a fan of Miss Martian in this, but I love this next part. Bats expresses his dislike of working with teenagers only for her to shape shift into Jason (Robin II) disproving him. In addition Bats spends so much time with her it is clear he really does love working with teenagers and trying to make them his surrogate children. While not good, she is at least better than she is in Young Justice. My main problem is the cursing. I figured they would just make Green Lantern curse to separate her dialogue from everyone else, but both of them curse too much to make me think that now.
Where is she from? It is established in “Secret Origins Part II” that J’onn is the last Martian, so where did she come from? My theory is she is a Cadmus clone like Galatea. She was not ready in time for the events in the show, but Cadmus still finished her, and then let her live her life. Naturally she decided to try and join the Justice League.
I regularly hear that compared to the other two trinity members Superman got the worst focus, but I think he got the best of it; it is just more subtle. Case in point is Superman discovers why they cannot access the time machine. Mr. Terrific calls him his father’s son, and Clark responds with “my father was a farmer.” This is for one an acknowledgement of how smart farmers are, and that their knowledge of weather, nature, and food is more important than scientists’ theories, which are literally useless without the stable food source only farmers bring. I think Wonder Woman got the least service, since all she does is beat Persuader. Unlike Batman and Clark she could just be replaced by say Atom Smasher or Aquaman with really no difference.
The three members of The Fatal Five break out, and The Persuader cuts Clark up.
Next is a scene at Arkham. Starboy has befriended Two Face. This actually makes sense. Two-Face has dual personality disorder and frequent mood swings, but he has a side that wants to fight Evil. Starboy has constant mood swings, and he is a hero who struggles with his identity due to his memory issues. I really like Two-Face seemingly being at peace with himself. Starboy sees Mono of the Fatal Five on the news, and breaks out.
The Emerald Empress, leader of The Fatal Five and girl friend to Mono, calls out to Mono. He is trying to find the key to their prison, and I think they really do like each other. That is what I like about The Fatal Five. They are unapologetic, sadisitc monsters, but they truly care for each other. They just care for nobody else.
The League compares notes. With both the second and third smartest men in the world there they deduce 21 Bridges is Portland and Limelight is Green Lantern. Meanwhile The Five attack citizens in Portland forcing Green Lantern out, but Starboy arrives. They flee, and I enjoy their banter between Starboy’s motor mouth and her sarcastic questions. The rest of the League minus injured Superman arrives to the tune of the Justice League Unlimited theme song.
Tharok of the Fatal Five knocks Green Lantern out, and Persuader fleis off with her. They battle over her until Clark arrives and the Five retreat. It is a good fight thanks to the constantly shifting scenery.
I have said before how much I love superhero scenes where they just hang out in full costume, and as expected I love this eating scene. It starts with Miss Martian’s horrible attempts to be good cop, just for Green Lantern to easily relate to his mental issues and how to cope with him. She tells him “You can’t just force your mind to do something it doesn’t want to.” It is a great way of explaining the issues I have with Autism at times, and it does not sound rehearsed like the lines in most movies about mental illness. It calms him down, and he tells her everyone knows of how great she was in the future, where she is an iconic superhero. I can tell from Starboy’s dialogue the creators really loved him in “Thy Kingdom Come.”
Nobody believes Starboy when he says he is a superhero, and Bats tells Martian to take them and Green Lantern into his head. They go to a few places, and that includes the Justice League Museum with the original theme song playing, and I am tearing up. Amidst all my crying Batman stares at his statue and says “nothing like me.” Haahahhahahahaha!
Green Lantern sees her statue with the other Green Lanterns (where are Alan and Simon?) She is saddened to hear the corps is now destroyed, but she is amazed at her statue. They see a memory of a battle between The Legion and the entire Five. I do not know who most of these people are, but I love seeing Mon-El get tossed around. Go Emerald Empress! Show that filthy Daximite who is boss!
Brainiac 5 captures the Empress and the other missing member forcing the others to flee. Since no prison can hold them they take her back in time to be held by the Green Lanterns, and Saturn Girl reminds Starboy of his inability to get better or think if he forgets his medicine, and that he cannot be in the Legion then. They never mention this in the movie but in the comics he was kicked out for killing somebody, and based on his reaction I think that happened after this flashback. He breaks down, and they have to leave the memory.
Tharok creates bombs everywhere, and they set them off to occupy the Justice League. Bats insists Green Lantern stay behind due to being the target and Starboy stay behind due to his instability and nobody considers him to be a superhero. This action scene is underwhelming compared to the flashback one, but it then goes back to Green Lantern and Starboy. She blows up at him due to the stress of not being able to help and the constant targeting of her. Tharok contacts her to go to the forest from earlier to stop the bombs and killings.
This is a great idea by them. A Green Lantern is weakened by their own fear, so being here theoretically greatly reduces her power. The music from when she saw the killer earlier is played, and she looks scared in a closeup. Then the music goes away and it changes to a look of determination, exactly what a Green Lantern is supposed to do and why the ring chose her. To stop the bombs she surrenders. She takes them to Oa where the the other two are held. I love the villainous dialogue. Persuader hopes he is the reason the corps is only a legend in a thousand years and Mono calls them “The Green Facist Corps.”
Green Lantern gives the corps the in distress code. They make her open the prisons, but then Kilowag and Salaak arrive. I do not know why Kilowag has his Green Lantern: The Animated Series look, but I think it makes sense that is canon to the DCAU. It is 3 vs 5, Kilowag gets stabbed through the chest, Salaak is knocked out, and Persuader chops Jessica’s ring in two.
So Green Lantern is buried under rubble, the Justice League is now going to rescue the time machine from The Fatal Five who have murdered the guards, and the Eye has taken power from the central battery. The Emerald Empress gives her plan, and I love it. She is going to destroy the sun, and end all superheroes before the 31st century when they go home. I love how they question it like it is based on morality until they instead ponder about the logistics. These guys are so evil, and that is why I love them. They do not even wonder if this makes their home unrecognizable and ends their own existence, as they are in it for the evulz.
The Justice League minus Green Lantern battles the Fatal Five. Wonder woman insists Starboy not help, as she has a very good battle with Persuader. Persuader has been the clear MVP, but Wonder Woman has been his kryptonite. She keeps evading his attacks due to her superior reaction time. Normally watching her beat him over and over would get dull, but Wonder Woman keeps beating him in different ways. If the Five just put the giant pink gu agains ther I think they win easily. My favorite is when they adapt a battle from The Dark Knight Returns with Batman vs. Mono. Mr. Terrific and Batman apparently get fed up with Miss Marian and let Tharok take her out. I have to say that my main flaw is how inconsistent the Fatal Five’s durability is. One minute Tharok and Mono are taking hit after hit. The next the non powered guys one punch them. They take out 4 of the five, but then The Emerald Empress wipes them all out.
As this has been going on Green Lantern wills her ring to fix itself, heal her injured eye, saves Kilowag and Salaak, and tells the ring to bring her home, which is literally does. She wakes up, breaks through the door, and completes her costume.
The Eye is sent to destory the sun, and the five go to their time machine, only for Green Lantern to destroy it. She battles the five. It is not a smartly written fight, but it has plenty of cool moments like when Mono accidently burns his girlfriend’s face, and I can hear the genuine concern in his voice.
Then it is a plot Bruce Timm used once in Justice League episode “Eclipsed”, in Justice League Doom, and here. The sun is being destroyed, and Clark fails to save it. Green Lantern (a different one each time) and another hero then save it. Starboy convinces her that he is the only one that cans save the sun, as his name indicates he has star based powers. Green Lantern knows that makes perfect sense in a world where she has green light based powers that makes perfect sense and flies him to the sun. He earlier flew in space, so I presume she flies considerably faster than he does.
In most of the DCAU shows Clark cannot survive in space without a space suit, but he did it in the Justice League Unlimited episode “Flashpoint” so apparently he learned at some point. Needless to say he fails to save the sun (again).
Starboy and Green Lantern arrive, and the pacing gets much slower. Starboy declares that it can only be pulled back together by gravity, so he flies into it despite Green Lantern’s protests. He again declarers himself to be a superhero and then proves it. Other than Long Shadow (which was purely off screen) the show never killed one of its heroes. Granted Dan Turpin died in Superman The Animated Series, but that was a completely different tone. That was very shockingly fast, while this is a slow scene designed to slowly make the viewer cry, and it worked at least on me. It works even better after I read a few comics with him (I can relate to my fellow night workers).
Green Lantern is comforted by Clark. It is a common myth that Clark must be a symbol of hope, but here he is something else, just a helping hand. He normally fails to fight evil this movie, but I can see his worth in how he helps Green Lantern cope with the hardships of being a hero.
The ending scene wraps up a few details. Bats tells Miss Martian she is on the team, and he implies voting against it. It is amazing that he is the funniest guy in the movie. At Starboy’s funeral the Legion arrives to mourn him, and it is admittedly an underwhelming ending scene compared to the penultimate scene.
I love this movie. It is the best Justice League movie I have seen (Out of the 18 I have seen 13. 4 of the ones I have not seen are lego films). The fights are very varied and fun to watch. The drama was very sad and had the serious mood it needed. It gives the trinity time to shine despite focusing on lesser used characters. The villains are a call back to an older time making them very unique in today’s animated films. They seem to be an intentional take that at all the modern twist villains. As anybody who read my DCAOM rankings knows this gets five Tree Stars.
Next time on April 27th. Time for a list. I mostly talk about animation, but many live-action films have affected me, thus coming up is my favorite live-action movies.