Last time, we checked out “Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox”, a film that served as an adaptation to the five-issue event series that helped form this new universe. Now, it’s time to start bringing the world’s greatest superheroes together in…
Originally released on February 4, 2014, this film is an adaptation of the opening Justice League story arc “Origin”, written by Geoff Johns, drawn by Jim Lee and inked by Scott Williams, which takes place in the series’ first six issues. How does the world’s greatest super team get formed here? Let’s find out.
We open to a newscast where we find out that a large number of abductions have been occurring in Gotham City as they show footage from a bank camera of a shadowy figure (who’s mistaken as Batman) ambush and capture a random citizen at an ATM.
Right on cue, the mysterious figure kidnaps a woman who was trying to catch a bus. Fortunately, Hal Jordan a.k.a. Green Lantern (voiced by Justin Kirk of Weeds fame) was in hot pursuit and reaches them before the lady gets thrown off the side of a building. After saving her life, Hal continues his pursuit of the creature.
Shorty after resuming his search, Green Lantern falls victim to a surprise attack by the mysterious being. As they tussle, the creature unveils itself and continues to pummel the Emerald Knight. Fortunately, Bruce Wayne a.k.a. Batman (voiced by Jason O’Mara) comes in and saves him. He tries to interrogate the Parademon, but it unleashes its flame breath to force the Dark Knight off him.
Shortly afterwards, Green Lantern comes to the rescue by smashing the creature with a train construct. However, his first meeting with Batman is interrupted by the arrival of a trio of police helicopters demanding that they surrender. This gives the Parademon enough time to fly off, but not before Batman uses a grappling hook to latch onto the creature’s leg. He and Green Lantern give chase as they fly around Gotham trying to capture it. Ultimately, Hal pins the monster’s wings by forming a vice from his ring, causing the Parademon to rip off its own means of flight and smash through the city street to escape into the sewer system.
As our heroes follow after the Parademon, Batman tells Green Lantern why this creature has made its way to Gotham. Eyewitnesses saw it planting a device (presumably a bomb) downtown. As Green Lantern discovers that the Dark Knight isn’t a super-powered being, his yakking allowed Batman the time to swipe his ring off his hand since he “wasn’t concentrating”. Furious, Hal uses his will to have his ring float back to him.
Shortly afterwards, they catch up to the wingless Parademon as they see it attach a device to the wall. As it starts glowing, Green Lantern decides to bum-rush right in against Batman’s orders. However, the creatures spontaneously explodes, but not before uttering its final words: “For Darkseid!”. The Emerald Knight manages to shield himself and Batman from the blast before they investigate the device. Green Lantern has his ring scan it (allowing voice director Andrea Romano to cameo as the ring’s voice), but is unable to find out what the device is since the Guardians of the Universe aren’t knowledgeable about this certain piece of technology. Batman discovers that it doesn’t scan like a bomb and that it’s alien tech. They mention Superman in the conversation, implying that they’re going to find him in order to get some answers.
Over at S.T.A.R. Labs in Metropolis, Dr. Silas Stone (voiced by Rocky Carroll) and his team of scientists have another device in their scanners, courtesy of the Flash. They even have the remaining corpse of the Parademon that sacrificed itself in order to plant it in Central City. Despite having some of Earth’s most sophisticated scanners and technology, it’s unable to determine the properties of the device. All that they’ve been able to find out is that it’s sending out a signal and that similar frequencies have been emitting from all over the United States. Just then, he gets a call from forensic scientist Barry Allen a.k.a. The Flash (voiced by Christopher Gorham) as Silas tells him of what he’s discovered so far. Upon the conclusion of his call, his cell phone’s schedule reminds him of an event to attend. However, he decides to ignore it.
We then head across town to discover what Dr. Stone decided to pass on, a high school football game and in particular, the State Championship game. A young boy named Billy Batson (voiced by Zach Callison) sneaks into the stadium to catch the very end. With a trip to the national title game on the line, quarterback Victor Stone (voiced by Shemar Moore) ultimately throws a game-clinching touchdown pass as his team wins the game. However, the victory is bittersweet for him, since his father couldn’t be bothered to attend his own game and that the reserved seat was snatched up by Billy. They subsequently meet later in the locker room as they chat for a bit before Batson makes off with Victor’s jersey.
Transitioning from screams of joy to angry yells, we then head to Washington, D.C. where Diana Prince a.k.a. Wonder Woman (voiced by Michelle Monaghan) is on a diplomatic visit to the President as she’s accompanied by Steve Trevor (voiced by Justice League & Justice League Unlimited’s Superman himself, George Newburn). However, she’s greeted with hostile protest. After stemming the anger by discovering a quirky side of one of the protesters via her Lasso of Truth (I’ll leave it to you to discover it for yourself), Trevor then accompanies her to the White House.
After arriving in Metropolis, Batman and Green Lantern manage to come across Kal-El a.k.a. Clark Kent a.k.a. Superman (voiced by Alan Tudyk) who’s fighting another Parademon. They follow the Man of Steel’s tussle to an abandoned building where the creature blew up in front of Kal. Our heroes then proceed to fight each other for a short while as their brawl makes its way to the city streets. Ultimately, Batman ends the fight as he tells Superman that he knows his civilian guise. After Superman uses his X-Ray Vision to discover who the Dark Knight is, they finally discuss the alien tech boxes. As they escape through the sewers (due to more police helicopters), Batman deduces that someone has placed these devices in strategic spots and that they’ve got to find out who it’s for and why in a hurry.
We then cut to the planet Apokolips where Desaad (voiced by Bruce Thomas) tells Darkseid (voiced by Steven Blum) that a “Mother Box” was discovered by Superman. With heroes popping up to investigate, he fears that they’ll lose the element of surprise. As such, Darkseid agrees with his loyal servant as they begin their invasion right away.
Over at S.T.A.R. Labs, Mother Box testings continue as Victor Stone arrives to berate his father for not even bothering to show up at his game. Despite his son’s incredible football skills and the fact that there’s schools willing to give him a scholarship, Silas doesn’t care about any of it. He says that the super-hero explosion going on all around them makes his own son’s athletic achievements archaic.
Across town and beneath the Daily Planet, our heroes deduce that the rash kidnappings and the Mother Box in their possession have a connection. The Parademons are expendable beings who only serve to place these devices prior to a great invasion.
Just then, the Mother Box activates as Green Lantern uses his ring to send it flying to the other side of the room. In that instance, it opens a portal where legions of Parademons start flying out. As such, our heroes start fighting back.
Back at S.T.A.R. Labs, Victor is furious that a piece of alien technology is more important to his father than he is. As such, he yanks it out of the scanner. Just then, the Mother Box activates and opens up a portal where Parademons start flying out and kidnapping the various scientists. Unfortunately, Victor was in close range of the device upon its activation and is blasted by it. As such, he ends up losing his right arm and left leg. Silas and two remaining scientists hustle as fast as they can to try and save his son.
Upon reaching the Red Room, they place Victor onto a medical pod where it forms a metallic cocoon around him. With the blast residue and the extensive damage causing his son to go into cardiac arrest, Silas activates the medical procedure as he injects promethium nanites into his son in order to replace the damaged skin tissue. The scene initially ends on a dramatic hanger as Victor’s vitals end up flat-lining.
Over in Washington, D.C., Wonder Woman storms out of the White House having not met the President yet. Heading across the street, she meets a young girl named Hannah Grace (voiced by Hynden Walch a.k.a. Starfire of the ’03 Teen Titans series), as the young lass introduces the Amazon to the delicious joys of ice cream. Shortly afterwards, Steve locates and berates her for the walk-out.
Just then, there’s a commotion from the White House as Parademons are chasing government officials out of the building (since apparently, a Mother Box was being held IN THE HOME OF THE PRESIDENT!). Wonder Woman sees the ruckus as she eagerly heads off to fight the monstrous beings.
Back at S.T.A.R. Labs, the nanites comes to life as they start to wrap the metallic cocoon around Victor, allowing his vitals to have a resurgence. It came at the perfect time since the earlier group of Parademons have finally broken through the highly-reenforced door to attack. Victor rises up as a mechanized golem and manages to fend off the winged creatures. Even as they chip away at his outer shell, Cyborg’s newest abilities kick in as the nanites stretch outward to nearby missile launchers, attaching them to his shoulders and proceeds to blast away at the Parademons. They even grab nearby rocket boosters and equip those to his back in order to give him flight. Thanks to Silas’ cell phone call from Barry Allen during the commotion, the Flash comes along to help finish off the remaining Parademons.
Back in Metropolis, the massive fighting continues as Batman, Green Lantern and Superman continue to duke it out with the ever-growing number of Parademons. After plugging up a massive hole in the wall to prevent further monsters from flying out, it ends up dissipating as other Parademons force him to focus his attack on them. After Batman scolds him for losing his concentration, he tells Green Lantern to start falling back. Hal wonders why since they’ve got Superman greatly helping their cause, but then he takes off after his super-hearing picks up a call for help.
We then cut to Billy Batson who sneaks back into his foster family’s house. His siblings catch him in the act and tell him that they worry about his disappearances. They even tell him of the growing crisis from the city, but Billy scoffs at the report as his siblings head out. Just then, he hears a yell and notices a certain creature carrying a man through his back yard, prompting him to head outside to investigate.
Just then, a Parademon bursts through the fence in order to attack. As Billy preps to defend himself with a piece of wood, he yells out the magic word, “SHAZAM”. At that moment, a lightning bolt strikes down as the monster gets sent into the sky. His siblings come out to hear what the commotion was about. To their surprise, they discover that he’s become a grown man as he flies off to join the fight.
We then cut to what caught Superman’s super-hearing. Because of the ruckus in the White House, the President and the First Lady were evacuated and took to the air via Air Force One. However, the Parademons were able to catch up as they rip through the Secret Service. The first one to answer the call is Wonder Woman as she manages to fend off the vicious beasts.
During her scuffle, Diana smashes a Parademon off the plane. However, it ends up flying into one the main engines, causing the jet to start losing altitude. The sudden shift makes the President initially fall off, but Wonder Woman manages to save him with her Lasso of Truth. Fortunately for everyone on board, Superman answers the call as he uses his strength to level out Air Force One. He uses his Heat Vision to fend off the remaining Parademons as Wonder Woman joins in by hanging off a piece of landing gear. They catch sight of each other as they look at one another with admiration.
Back at S.T.A.R. Labs, Cyborg has finished off the last of the Parademons plaguing the building. After coming down from battle, he suddenly realizes what he’s become. With his brain having become a quantum computer, his body nearly entirely mechanized and the fact that he’s constantly hearing a mysterious buzz, he’s mad at his father. Despite the fact that is life was saved, Victor berates his dad for becoming “another one of his experiments”. As such, a distraught Cyborg runs off as the Flash excuses himself in order for Silas to talk to his son.
As Cyborg reaches the open Boom Tube, his internal computers analyze it. Thanks to his new technological enhancements, he learns of Darkseid’s master plan: He sends his Parademons to various worlds, captures numerous lifeforms and turns them into Parademons themselves. Upon learning this, the Boom Tube closes and the Mother Box returns to its normal state. After picking it up, his body makes room as it brings the device inside of him. After Silas catches up to him, a Parademon drops out of the sky as Shazam (voiced by Samwise himself, Sean Astin) arrives. The scene ends with him discovering what happened to Victor, allowing Cyborg to realize who this grown man really is.
Over in Metropolis, our heroes start coming together as Batman and Green Lantern continue their tussle against the Parademons. Soon enough, the Flash comes in and joins the fray.
Just as more Parademons come in and attack, Wonder Woman arrives to make her presence felt as she easily takes them down.
Shortly afterwards, Superman shows up as the remaining monsters retreat. Batman deduces that they’re waiting for the main culprit behind the attacks to arrives.
Just then, the entire gang comes together as Cyborg and Shazam fly in to meet up with our heroes. With everyone assembled, Victor tells them that the massive invasion was leading towards the ultimate goal of terraforming the planet.
As if on cue, a ring of fire forms on top of the nearby ocean as a massive construct ascends from the depths. At the same time, similar towers start rising up throughout the city. At that moment, Darkseid emerges from the initial belfry as he arrives on Earth.
While the rest of the heroes are forced into fighting more Parademons, Green Lantern takes it upon himself to go after the main threat. However, Darkseid easily withstands the attacks and ends up breaking Hal’s arm. Even when another hero gets their shot, the ruler of Apokolips isn’t even effected by any of their blows.
During the fight, Darkseid has Superman and the Flash in his sights. As such, he fires his Omega Beams at them. The Scarlet Speedster and the Man of Steel head off at high speeds to avoid the deadly streaks of light. Upon splitting up, the Flash manages to dissipate the beam by weaving around various Parademons while the streak ends up incinerating them.
However, Superman was unable to fly fast enough as the other Omega Beam catches up and blasts the Man of Steel, knocking him out as a Parademon captures and returns him to Apokolips.
Upon seeing this, the Flash tells the remaining heroes of the bad news. Wounded but determined to go rescue Superman, Green Lantern tries flying off. However, Batman catches up and stops him from the ill-conceived recovery. He lets Hal know that he can relate to him, since they’re the only ones in this cadre of heroes that don’t have superpowers of their own, as he takes off his mask and tells him his tragic (yet iconic) backstory. Bruce, in his last means to have Green Lantern concentrate, tells him to put himself to good use by rejoining their fellow heroes and help them work as a team.
In the end, Batman’s plan is to have the remaining heroes fend off Darkseid for as long as they can while he rescues Superman. As such, he finds some civilian clothes to hide his outfit under and allows a Parademon to capture him.
Shortly afterwards, Green Lantern regroups with the rest of our heroes as they decide on what to do. Ultimately, they put together a Master Plan. First, Hal will distract Darkseid long enough for Wonder Woman to sneak up and eliminate the Omega Beam factor permanently by stabbing his eyes. Second, Cyborg will work on a way to send the Parademons back to where they came from.
Over on Apokoplis, Batman defeats his captor the moment he’s inside Darkseid’s main palace as he begins his rescue mission. Inside, Superman is strapped down as Desaad hopes to turn the Man of Steel into a “Super-Parademon”.
Fortunately, Batman arrives to foil this plan. However, Desaad manages to summon a legion of Parademons to try and stop the Dark Knight.
Back on Earth, our heroes proceed to fight Darkseid. The battle ultimately heads out a few miles off the coast where our super-powered beings do everything in their power to distract and score some hits off the massive conqueror of worlds. It would ultimately pay off as Wonder Woman manages to strike a key blow to Darkseid as she uses her sword to stab one of his eyes.
Back on Apokolips, Batman switches off the machine in order to prevent Superman from becoming a Parademon. Just as Desaad starts to run past him in order to escape, the Man of Steel manages to grab him by the neck and hold him up until he’s incapacitated. He then uses his Heat Vision to incinerate the oncoming Parademon. However, Kal isn’t in control of his own mind as he begins to launch an enraged attack on Batman.
Back on Earth, the climatic fight moves back onto the main land as our heroes work up another golden opportunity on getting Darkseid subdued. As Flash borrows a crowbar from a nearby fireman, the ruler of Apokolips manages to break free. Fortunately, the Scarlet Speedster ultimately manages to score a decisive blow as he stabs the other eye, followed up by a lightning ball blast to the eye socket from Shazam.
While Batman continues to try and help Superman regain his mental control over on Apokolips…
…our heroes continue to tussle with a newly-blinded Darkseid. Cyborg manages to give the team some much-needed fighting space as he takes to the skies in order to properly connect with his recently-acquired Mother Box so that he can send the right command in “their language” to the device. Suddenly, Boom Tubes open up all around the world as every last Parademon is sucked inside and sent back to Apokolips.
Just then, a Boom Tube opens behind Darkseid as our heroes stuggle mightily to shove him in. They get some much-needed help as Batman and a restored Superman return and use everything they’ve got to try and send the ruler of Apokolips back to his planet. However, he’s still able to resist.
Even worse, Cyborg doesn’t have enough power to properly close the Boom Tube. Fortunately, Shazam is able to come to the rescue. After they fly upwards to the clouds, the mighty marvel yells out the magic word. It sends out a massive thunderbolt which strikes them both in addition to the Mother Box.
Fortunately, it came at the right time as the remaining heroes force Darkseid back into the Boom Tube with one last combined energy blast. With the defeated conqueror of worlds sucked back to his own planet, the Mother Box closes off every single Boom Tube.
Up in the skies, the massive lightning strike caused Shazam to turn back into Billy Batson. Cyborg catches his falling body and takes him to a nearby balcony. As the young kid rests, he asks for his secret identity to be kept a secret. Naturally, Victor promises.
Shortly afterwards, he rejoins our heroes. With Darkseid’s main tower having now crumbled into the ocean, he uses the Mother Box’s signal one last time to transport the captured humans back home. After Green Lantern carries them back to the main land, the people then confront our heroes. Instead of loud jeers and boos, they instead have cries of joy and applause.
We cut to Washington, D.C. later on as our heroes are receiving presidential honor. When the president asks them if they have a name for their team, Shazam jokingly calls them the “Super Seven”.
And so, the film closes out on a mid-end credits scene as loads of aquatic creatures lie dead upon the surface as a result of the invasion. A submarine rises from the depth as an undersea dweller holds up the deceased body of his king, who died due to the debris of Darkseid’s Boom Tube tower collapsing on him. He blames the humans for this action and declares war upon them.
Now that we’re no longer dealing with an event comic that had more tie-ins than there were issues, I can properly address the various differences between the source material and this film. We start with the biggest one of all: Shazam (or Captain Marvel, I never understood why the name of the wizard that gave Billy Batson his powerful adult form is now the name of the superhero himself) replaces Aquaman as the seventh member of the newly-formed Justice League. In the original story, the King of the Seas himself joins our heroes after Darkseid’s forces open a Boom Tube over the ocean to have a tower rise above the waters. Also, Shazam doesn’t join the Justice League until after this opening story arc. Here, he gives Cyborg support in more ways than one. In addition to looking up to Victor Stone as a big fan, his addition helps make sense in helping him close the Boom Tube to send Darkseid away for good. He also takes some lines that originally belonged to the Flash, from letting Cyborg know that his father attended the presidential honoring and is even the one who originally christens the team as the “Super Seven”. For me, he serves as a minor upgrade over Aquaman, if only for the fact that the Atlantean leader doesn’t stand out too much in the original story outside of summoning a shark to attack a Parademon.
For the Flash, he’s got a two-for-one deal in terms of differences between source material and film. In the comics, Green Lantern contacts Barry while he and Batman have their initial fight with Superman, prompting the Scarlet Speedster to join in on the fracus. Here, he dons his superhero motif after he calls up Dr. Silas Stone who’s under attack by the Parademons while saving his son Victor. Also, it was originally Aquaman who stabs out Darkseid’s second eye with his trident. Since the King of the Seas was left out of this film, good ol’ Barry was given the honor via a crowbar. Also, while the Flash gave Silas and his fellow scientists a Mother Box that he recovered, the source material explains that they acquired the device following a fight that involved Superman.
Finally, Victor Stone has a few differences between the original comics version and film adaptation and all of them are before he becomes Cyborg. Here in the film, he’s the quarterback, wears #7, and throws the winning touchdown pass as his school prevails in a close game, giving them the right to play in the national championship game. In the source material, he’s a wide receiver, wears #17, and catches a touchdown pass as his school wins a one-sided shutout rout, winning a spot in the state championship game.
In terms of characterizations, they’re decently done. The major one involves Green Lantern and his becoming of a much-more sound hero, thanks to Batman. In the beginning, Hal is very hot-headed and feels like he can just waltz right into any situation and solve it with a snap of his fingers. Thankfully, Bruce’s sly wit and calmness helps him mentor the former fighter pilot into someone who can make competent decisions to help out the Justice League and beyond. One wonders why Hal hasn’t been rounded into a better figure prior since he was with the Air Force, though. This is why I had a little disdain for him, since he was initially brash, cocky, and just willing to charge right at Darkseid without much thought in the way of thinking straight. Thanks to Batman, he becomes significantly better and willing to think things through.
As far as well-developed characters go, Cyborg wins hands down. This is largely due to the fact that his New 52 origin is part of the main story, born from a disdain where even with great athletic skills, he’s invisible to his own dad. Just like RoboCop, he suffers a tragic accident that kills his first life and is rebuilt into a fighting mechanization that’s out to stop evil in its tracks. It helps that Billy Batson/Shazam looks up to him and uses his enthusiasm to help Victor completely accept his position as a computerized man of the machine.
The story is very simplistic, since it’s an invasion story where Darkseid sends his Parademons to various worlds, kidnaps their inhabitants, and turns them into Parademons. That way, he’ll have a seemingly endless army to help overthrow other worlds en route to total domination. It’s straightforward in what it wants to do and accomplishes that. However, this feels like something that should be the climax to a story arc. I blame that more towards the original source material looking to get the New 52 DC Universe off and running. Having superheroes gather together to solve a crisis isn’t a bad idea in the slightest. However, Darkseid is supposed to be a top-tier villain in the DC Universe, rebooted universe or not. I feel like if he’s going to do a massive invasion, it should be much later in a series instead of the very beginning. Other than that, Darkseid succeeds at being a powerful and dominant foe.
The action scenes are plentiful once the invasion begins. There are a few prior to Darkseid’s plans getting set in motion, but once it does, it’s pretty much loads of fighting. They are fast-paced and thrilling, but can get exhausting by the film’s end. While the individual throwdowns are alright by themselves, it’s really nice to see the main heroes working as one. It isn’t until Batman completely whips Green Lantern into shape that this unit is able to function properly and that’s where some neat-o things happen. In the end, the fighting scenes aren’t especially in the category of “stand-out” and can be draining by film’s end. However, they’re still enjoyable.
Overall, this is a decent romp. Despite a slew of action scenes that can be straining and an above-average story, the animation is really nice (especially when Cyborg is able to send the Parademons back to Apokolips) and the characters have their comedic moments to help us get through the action-packed second half. Check it out if your interested on how the New 52 Universe started out.
Next Time: Whether it was Dick Grayson, Jason Todd, or Tim Drake, the sidekick mantle of Robin has been an iconic and helpful ally to the Caped Crusader. This persona is about to be taken form by someone with a surprising connection to the Dark Knight himself as we dig into “Son Of Batman”.
Justice League (created by Gardner Fox) and all related characters are owned by DC Comics.