Hello, my friends. With my quest to bring the mysterious and the mystical of superhero entertainment into focus, I welcome you back to another entry of…
It’s been a while, but we return to this beloved series. In particular, we continue our adventures within the New 52 Animated Universe. The World’s Greatest Heroes have seen a lot in this string of films. From fending off two different invasions (one from space, the other from the oceans) to being used as pawns against a super-powered team of young heroes, the Justice League has been through many ventures. However, we now come across a crisis that’ll take a different kind of super-team to deal with. Expect the supernatural as we dig into…
Originally released on January 24, 2017 for Digital Download and February 7 on DVD & Blu-Ray, this film is based on the superhero team that had its own 40-issue series from 2011 to 2015. Also, it’s the second R-Rated film of the series (joining our last entry) and the first Justice League movie to receive said rating. What sort of mystical crisis awaits us? Let’s dive in and find out.
We open in Washington, D.C. where a woman is at a red light. Suddenly, she’s accidentally rear-ended by another car. As she angrily gets out to confront the driver, she becomes terrified to see that a demonic creature was behind the wheel. As she gets back in her car, she suddenly sees many otherworldly beings. Unbeknownst to her, they’re all actually regular human beings.
Nevertheless, she drives off in an attempt to escape. During her crazed rampage, she ends up ramming into innocent civilians.
Just as she barrels towards another group of bystanders, her car is suddenly picked up and placed on top of a fire hydrant as her door gets ripped off by Diana Prince a.k.a. Wonder Woman (voiced by Rosario Dawson). The lady begs our heroine to save her from “the demons”, but she soon sees the horror of what she actually did as Wondey shames her by stating that she sees “only one”.
We then cut to the suburbs of Metropolis where a man demands to know what happened to his family from an otherworldly being. Little does he know is that he’s only a moment away from killing his own wife and children with a shotgun. Fortunately, Kal-El a.k.a. Clark Kent a.k.a. Superman (voiced by Jerry O’Connell) arrives in time as his superhuman physique withstands the bullets, allowing him to disarm the man just as the police show up to arrest him.
As if that wasn’t enough, Superman and the police discover that the guy had also executed several of his neighbors (only because he unintentionally saw them as demonic creatures) and stored their bodies in his shed.
We then cut to a church in Gotham City where a young woman is about to send her baby to a free-falling death. Fortunately, Bruce Wayne a.k.a. Batman (voiced by Jason O’Mara) arrives to try and calm her down. Unfortunately, she thinks that she gave birth to “the devil” since her baby looks like a young hell-spawn in her eyes.
In shock, she flings the infant over the side. Fortunately, Batman swings down and saves the baby. Unfortunately, this allowed the young woman to commit suicide as she jumped to her death and left her child without a mother.
Sometime later at the Hall of Justice, the Justice League has gathered for an emergency meeting. Not only do we get a quick glimpse of Cyborg, Aquaman and the Flash, but the team has also added new members in Martian Manhunter, Hawkman and even a Green Lantern who’s filling in for Hal Jordan named John Stewart (voiced by Curtis Manning himself, Roger Cross). Superman and Wonder Woman explain how there doesn’t seem to be any explanation for these “law-abiding citizens” to commit atrocities due to having “nightmare visions”. They also show that these incidents aren’t limited to a specific area, since they’ve also popped up across the globe as Wonder Woman lists the possible involvement of a “supernatural element”. Despite all of the magic-based villains that the team has faced over the years (both on-screen and off), Batman doesn’t think that such a foe is the cause as he takes his leave.
Later at Wayne Manor, Bruce is shaving his face when he suddenly receives a message on his mirror that reads: “Constantine”. He then walk into his bedroom to discover the same word written all over the place.
Following the title card, we then shift to five days earlier in Las Vegas. At the Lucky Devil Casino, a private poker session is being played by the Hellblazer himself, John Constantine (voiced by Matt Ryan, reprising his role from the short-lived 2014 TV series) and Jason Blood (voiced by Ray Chase) against the Demons Three: Ghast, Abnegazar & Rath (voiced by Fred Tatasciore, J.B. Blanc and Jeffrey Vincent Parise, from left to right respectively). With John having little chips remaining, Abnegazar discreetly uses his demonic magic to alter the majority of his hand in order to have a royal flush.
With both sides having thrown all of their chips into the pot, Abnegazer declares himself the winner since his stack edges his foe’s by a great margin. However, John decides to throw in the ownership of his mystical home called the House of Mystery and everything that’s inside it.
As such, the Demons Three are forced to match his offering. They manage to summon a chest full of various mystical artifacts, one of which is a chipped Dreamstone. Ultimately, John decides to accept the offer and proceed with the game.
He then reveals his hand, which contains a less-than-spectacular pair of twos. With the game seemingly wrapped up in his favor, Abnegazer prepares to show off his full house. However, John’s magic changed his hand back to his actual cards, giving Constantine the win.
Miffed at the fact that his cheat was foiled, Abnegazar and his fellow demons proceed to attack John. Fortunately, he uses his newly-acquired ice dagger to fend off his attackers. However, it starts to encase him with an unnatural chill as he’s forced to relinquish it. Comedically, Jason Blood simply hides behind a pillar and refuses to get involved in the scuffle.
Ultimately, John manages to elude the Demons Three and uses a mind-control spell on Jason in order to make him say his mystic chant. From there, the ancient demon known as Etrigan (also voiced by Ray Chase) is summoned.
From there, he proceeds to easily defeat the Demons Three and force them to retreat back to the Netherrealm.
With the battle won, Etrigan transforms back into Jason. He then scolds John for making him summon the demon that he’s been mystical bound to for the past 500 years, since he fears Etrigan going on an uncontrolled rampage. However, Constantine said that their situation called for a demon to help them get out alive. As such, the scene ends with him taking his newly-acquired belongings into the House of Mystery and vanishing.
We then cut to the present time where the magician Zatanna Zatara (voiced by Dr. Wilson & the rebooted Lara Croft herself, Camilla Luddington) is performing a magic show at the Gotham Square Garden. She brings her spectacle to a close by making a trio of elephants disappear in front of the audience.
After the show, Batman meets up with Zatanna in her dressing room and asks her if she can help him contact Constantine. However, she says that she can’t, since we find out that she and John had a failed relationship in the past. Just then, Batman gets possessed as he tells her in a different voice that not only does the Dark Knight need to talk to Constantine, but that she has to come along as well. Just as she realizes who’s actually talking to her, Batman’s strong psyche allows him to regain control of himself and expel the figure who’s responsible for the initial message, Boston Brand a.k.a. Deadman (voiced by Det. James Martinez himself, Nicholas Turturro). From there, the scene ends with Zatanna willing to help out Batman as Deadman follows suit in astral form.
As our threesome make their way towards John in the Batmobile, Zatanna decides to tell Batman about Deadman’s back story. Back when he was alive, Boston Brand was a trapeze artist who performed for the circus. However, he fooled around with his female fans who were also happily married.
Unfortunately, that annoying trait caught up to him five years prior. While Boston was performing a death-defying feat, a sniper manages to shoot him while he was in midair. As his astral form safely reaches the opposite platform, he hears the shocking terror from the audience as he looks down and sees his mortal body lying bloodied and lifeless on the ground.
Fortunately, his soul was confronted by a goddess named Rama Kushna. Feeling sorry for what happened to him, the flashback ends with her giving Boston the power to possess other humans in order to fight for justice.
Afterwards, Batman is wondering why his GPS in unable to locate the House of Mystery. Zatanna explains that it “tends to move around” and that she programmed the device in order for the building to come to them.
Suddenly, a spellcaster conjures up some inclement weather as Batman swiftly moves through the high winds to avoid the debris. However, the tornado reveals its face before swallowing the Batmobile.
Fortunately, Zatanna manages to cast a shield spell to protect the car from further debris. However, the violent winds are causing a strain on her attempt to keep it in tact. Fortunately, Batman uses the Batmobile’s rocket booster to fly out of the mystical tornado and attempt to elude it.
Just then, the House of Mystery appears in front of them with John letting our threesome get inside as the building vanishes in the nick of time. With only the Batmobile destroyed, the tornado proceeds to dissipate.
With everyone safe and sound, Batman informs John about the recent homicides possibly being magically caused. Shortly after Constantine casts a spell to make Deadman visible to the Dark Knight, the House’s physical representation appears to our group as they’re confronted by Black Orchid (voiced by Colleen Villard). John explains to the group that the House of Mystery decided to learn about humanity and magically created a body for itself. She proceeds to sense the feelings and past of John’s fellow teammates. From Deadman being a similar being “whose existence is not its own” to Zatanna as a powerful spellcaster who has repressed feelings for Constantine, Orchid proceeds to sense Batman’s exuding pain and his lifelong “blackness”.
Afterwards, Constantine and company begin to investigate their current crisis. From what his goddess (Rama Kushna) informs him, Deadman says that this supernatural crisis will eventually become strong enough to tear down the dimensional planes and even affect the afterlife. After agreeing with him, John begins to head out on his own. David suggests that all four of them plus the Justice League should get involved in this, but Constantine says that the “capes and tights crew” isn’t exactly equipped to handle dark magic. Plus, he says that he’s not much of a team leader. However, he does require Zatanna’s help. She agrees, but only if Batman and Deadman help out as well. From there, the two get into a big argument as we apparently find out the cause of their nasty break-up: a group of monkeys in Sumatra needing to be saved. Fortunately, Batman breaks it up and states that both he and Deadman are willing to face whatever risks lie ahead. As such, our heroes head out to “take a walk on the dark side”.
They arrive in Washington, D.C. as John says that they need to see a friend of his. When they get to his house however, they find a group of Shrouds waiting outside. Since his friend is getting near death’s door, they’re waiting to take his soul to Hell.
Just then, they gather around Batman as they actually admit their own frustration on how the Dark Knight constantly cheats death. From there, John conjures up a spell to chase the Shrouds away.
Afterwards, they head inside where they meet John’s friend named Ritchie Simpson (voiced by Daniel Faraday & Dickie Bennett himself, Jeremy Davies). It turns out that he has an artifact that they need called the Keshanti Key. As our heroes learn however, he’s not exactly on good terms with Constantine. It turns out that when they were together on a past venture, he was inflicted with a magical cancer, thus causing his health to constantly dwindle. Batman lets him know that despite the lingering grudge, there’s innocent lives on the line. As such, Ritchie gives them the Keshanti Key and feels happy knowing that he’s going to his grave having met Batman. From there, our heroes take their leave.
Afterwards, they make their way to the Metropolis Health Center where they sneak their way towards the convicted man from before who’s currently in a comatose state. With the Keshanti Key in hand, John explains that it allows him to access various planes of existence without having to spend countless hours of incantations. With the artifact on the guy’s head, our heroes prepare to enter his mind and find out what caused him to nearly kill his family.
Just then, a nurse walks in on them and threatens to call security. Fortunately, Deadman take possession of her and heads out to make sure that his teammates aren’t interrupted.
From there, John prepares to head inside while telling Zatanna to stay behind and make sure that nothing bad happens to the guy so that he doesn’t end up trapped in his mind. However, she’s not willing to sit around as she demands her assistance to him. As such, the two of them proceed to enter the man’s mind while Batman stands guard.
From there, John and Zatanna begin searching through the man’s bad memories in order to find the one that’ll give them their answer. As they make their way through the mental faculties, they talk about their philosophical approaches when it comes to using their magical skills. Zatanna doesn’t prefer to engage the world’s conflicts and instead shows off her mystical talents to entertain the masses, while John mainly sees the negative side of humanity and thus constantly prepares to fight such cruelty. Together, they look through the guy’s mind as they discover that his past memories has left him bitter and jaded, thus making him a perfect target for whatever ultimately got him arrested.
Unbeknownst to our heroes, the same spellcaster from before is prepping his incantation in order to create another monster. What this next one is made out of though is the last thing anyone would ever consider.
As a foul stench suddenly hangs in the air, a Poop Monster begins to attack the staff. Fortunately, Deadman manages to help his host evade its strikes before placing her behind the counter and leaving her body. He then approaches a pair of guards who are firing at the creature, taking possession of the plump guy and diving out of the Poop Monster’s way before giving chase.
Meanwhile, John and Zatanna finally reach the key memory. As the day of his arrest begins to unfold, they find the kitchen growing dark as a shadowy figure with a glowing ring arrives unbeknownst to him preparing to strike.
Back in the real world, Deadman manages to possession-hop his way towards a male nurse and use his body in order to get the comatose man out of harm’s way while Batman fends off the foul creature with a series of explosive Batarangs.
As the lingering smoke manages to set off the sprinkler system and drenches the Poop Monster, Batman reaches a defibrillator system and cranks the setting to max before knocking it over towards the foul beast. As such, the creature is stunned by the intense volts as Deadman reaches the patient and gives them their escape opportunity.
Unfortunately, the Poop Monster manages to quickly recover and knock the defibrillator away. From there, it grabs the comatose man, barricades itself within a room and starts to devour him.
Back inside, John and Zatanna finally witness the moment where the guy became corrupted by the shadowy figure. Just then, the guy’s faculties start shutting down due to outside events.
Having noticed a key piece of information from the spiritual attacker, John manages to shatter the memory and grab the ring’s image before he and Zatanna manage to escape in time.
After reaching the real world, Zatanna uses a spell to destroy the Poop Monster as she & John reunite with their teammates and take their leave.
Later, our heroes arrive back in Washington, D.C. since John explains that Ritchie is the only one who can help them find out how a certain ring is connected to the current crisis. Just then, they find the Shrouds back at the house. As he makes his way inside, Constantine discovers a small group of Shrouds huddled around his unconscious friend. Not only that, but Jason Blood is there as well. As John gives chase after him, Deadman tries to fend off the haunting specters while Batman & Zatanna discover that Ritchie doesn’t have a pulse.
As a Shroud begins to separate Ritchie’s soul from his body, Batman stabs an adrenaline needle into his heart and saves his life.
From there, the scene ends with John reuniting with his teammates having successfully captured Jason.
After returning to the House of Mystery, Black Orchid starts to use a healing spell on Ritchie. After projecting a mental image of a certain ring, John tells her to let him see it the second that he wakes up.
Afterwards, John confronts Jason for some answers and warns him not to summon Etrigan. After getting freed from his mystical bonds, Blood explains that he wasn’t trying to kill Ritchie since the Shrouds were already at the house by the time he arrived. He also states that John’s sickly friend collects various “arcane & supernatural” trinkets and was only there to retrieve an item that would allow him to reach the House of Mystery. From there, he would have taken the Dreamstone away. From there, he explains why this artifact is “the stuff of nightmares”.
In a flashback, we find out that Jason was once a knight of Camelot as he and his fellow soldiers prepared to engage a vile being named Destiny (voiced by Alfred Molina). Once a man of science before becoming corrupted, he combined his black magic & soul to create the Dreamstone and cast visions of demons for the innocent civilians while feeding off of their despair.
As the knights begin their charge, Destiny sends the mind-controlled civilians against them. Even as the warriors of Valor make their way through the unfortunate folks, even they’re not immune to the Dreamstone as they start seeing each other as demons themselves.
Fortunately, Jason managed to fight through the fracas and get within striking distance of his foe. After Destiny launched an attack involving a rock shard which impaled his horse, Blood proceeds to charge at him. However, Destiny is able to fend him off long enough before he manages to mortally wound him.
Meanwhile, the fabled wizard Merlin (also voiced by J.B. Blanc) summoned Etrigan to the battlefield and promises to give the otherworldly warrior his freedom should he defeat Destiny. As such, Etrigan proceeds to engage his foe in combat.
After a brief tussle, the fight concludes with Etrigan plunging his sword at Destiny’s staff. The resulting explosion separated the Dreamstone from the rod and disarms the vile wizard.
From there, Merlin arrives and banishes his foe. Before he vanishes from sight, Destiny swears that “it isn’t over”.
The fabled wizard then looks over Jason’s dying body as Etrigan asks for his freedom. Fearing that Destiny will return one day, Merlin denies his request as he entraps the demon warrior in a spell. From there, the flashback ends with Jason and Etrigan getting mortally bonded together as Blood explains that this spell is also the reason why he’s been living for 500 years since that event.
As such, he says that the Dreamstone must be taken elsewhere. He attempts to grab it, but his hand phases through it. John explains that the House of Mystery keeps his belongings “out of phase”. With Batman believing that the Dreamstone’s reappearance is somehow connected to their current crisis, there’s a small debate among the group as to whether or not the infamous rock must be relocated. From there, the scene ends with Black Orchid informing John that Ritchie has woken up.
From there, we have a quick scene where Constantine asks him who was responsible for his recent near-death. Ritchie says that it was Felix Faust.
Immediately, John looks through his books until he discovers their target. Batman admits that the Justice League has faced him in the past, but their database doesn’t have his location.
As such, John uses a locator spell in order to find Faust’s hideout known as the Observatory of the Cosmos. However, Zatanna says that Felix would have already safeguarded his base from such tactics. Constantine replies by saying that he’ll have to ask another one of his friends for a favor. Just then, Black Orchid arrives and lets him know that Ritchie has fallen unconscious again. John tells her to “keep him alive & safe” and to also help him out no matter what. From there, our heroes take their leave.
It turns out that this particular friend lives in the middle of a swamp. John explains that they’re approaching the resting place of Dr. Alec Holland and that his corpse was used to become the “Avatar of the Green”. Batman adds onto the fact that Holland was murdered by terrorists and that his body was never found. Constantine proceeds to make a firey platform and flies out to the middle of a bog, telling his friend to come out or else he’ll burn a small group of posies. As such, the being known as Swamp Thing (also voiced by Roger Cross) appears. Zatanna tells him that they need his help in finding Felix Faust, since his observatory is able to evade all forms of tracking methods. Satisfied in knowing that she takes care of her own garden, Swamp Thing agrees to help them out. From there, he unleashes a series of roots that forms around our heroes.
In an instant, they arrive at their destination as Swamp Thing points them towards the rock formation that Faust’s hideout is located at. Zatanna than uses an anti-cloaking spell in order to see the observatory.
Afterwards, John asks his friend to help him and his teammates defend humanity from Felix Faust. Even with Jason backing him up, Swamp Thing turns them down since he thinks that it’s fitting justice for the same humanity that also has a history of unintentionally ruining nature. As such, he dissipates and takes his leave.
With one less ally, our heroes prepare to head out. However, Jason manages to speak his chant and transform into Etrigan. After forming his sword, the demon warrior proceeds to leap towards the opposing observatory.
Inside, Felix Faust (voiced by Enrico Colantoni) is working on an incantation when Etrigan bursts through the ceiling and attempts to strike him. However, the villainous sorcerer shields himself from the attack and summons a horde of demons to battle him. Fortunately, Etrigan is more than capable of fending off the otherworldly army.
Just then, Zatanna drops in and kicks Felix, which disarms him of his spellbook. She then tries to conjure up a spell, but finds that she’s not able to say a single word. As he magically reclaims his book, Felix explains that he’s placed an incantation over his home so that no woman can speak within his walls. As such, Zatanna is forced to flee for her life.
Fortunately, Deadman comes in and takes possession of Felix. As the two of them fly around in their tussle, Zatanna gathers herself while John and Batman arrive.
After a brief struggle, Felix manages to pull Deadman out of his body and contain him within a spell.
Fortunately, John and Batman manage to deliver a key series of attacks that diverts his attention away from their comrade as Constantine gets his shot.
Unfortunately, Felix conjures up another spell as he traps John within a water sphere. With his fire-based magic rendered useless, Constantine starts to drown within his aquatic prison.
Fortunately, Batman uses his grappling hook as he latches onto Felix’ spellbook and swings it over to the water cube. Shortly after John grabs the line, his aquatic containment cell breaks as he starts falling to the floor. Batman then fires a secondary line and swings Constantine to safety.
While Etrigan is finishing off the demon army and John continues his fight with Felix, Zatanna sends her voice out to find the magical reason for why she’s been silenced.
After forcing John to flee, Felix then starts to hunt down Zatanna. After a short while, he finds and traps her in an icy tomb. Fortunately, her spell managed to find the source of his “silent female” incantation.
Etrigan then attacks Felix, but the villainous sorcerer magically stabs him with a spike which delivers an explosion that’s powerful enough to change him back into Jason Blood.
Fortunately, Zatanna managed to free herself from her icy cell and strikes back with some “stored magic”. However, Felix finds her attack to be mere child’s play as he unleashes a barrage of magical blasts. As she’s forced to flee for her life, Zatanna manages to acquire the “silent female” statue.
However, a magically-erected arm manages to grab her as Felix uses it to start squeezing her to death. Fortunately, Batman uses an explosive Batarang to free her. John runs as fast as he can in order to prevent her from falling to her death, but Faust manages to fire a final barrage of magical blasts towards Zatanna as she attempt to remove the cloth from the statue’s mouth.
Fortunately, she managed to relieve the statue of its mouthpiece. However, she begins to unleash a surge of magic to the dismay of Constantine.
Zatanna is able to evade Felix’ attacks before subduing him to a pillar. She then conjures up a gigantic buster sword and prepares to kill her foe with it, but John steps in the way and tells her to stop.
Still determined to see Felix pay, Zatanna splits the massive sword into various blades before John tells her to “let it go”. Fortunately, she regains control of herself as Constantine comforts her in his arms while the various weapons magically vanish.
With Felix in custody, John begins his interrogation by asking if a certain ring belongs to him. When he says that maybe it does, Jason states that Felix isn’t responsible for “the nightmare crimes”. Batman then reminds his teammates that despite his condition, it was Ritchie who sent them after Felix.
Back at the House of Mystery, Black Orchid continues to keep watch over Ritchie. However, he takes advantage of a moment when her back is turned as he unveils a piece of the Dreamstone from his cane and proceeds to merge it with his left hand.
Overseeing what he’s doing, Black Orchid leaps in to stop him. However, her punches and kicks are not allowed to connect as Ritchie reminds her that she’s following John’s order of making her keep Simpson “alive & safe”.
After making her follow him to the main room, he then requests to be left alone and have her “go for a little walk”. Against her will, Black Orchid walks into the fireplace where she gets incinerated.
From there, the scene ends with Ritchie taking sole possession of the Dreamstone as he prepares his further scheme.
Just then, our heroes teleport back to the vicinity. They quickly discover that Batman’s hunch was right since Ritchie has taken possession of the house and prevented them from arriving back inside. Not even Deadman can phase into the building as he gets repulsed from the premises. As such, John walks up to the door and demands for his friend to let him in.
Fortunately, Ritchie lets him and our fellow heroes inside. However, he then reveals to them that he’s claimed the Dreamstone as he suspends them in the air. He then explains that he searched for a cure ever since he was hexed with magic cancer and found his answer when he discovered a Dreamstone fragment. The piece then informed him how to convince the Demons Three to bring the remainder of the magical rock to Earth. Knowing that John would have stopped him, Felix Faust would get blamed for the nightmare crimes in order for him to get brought to the House of Mystery. Afterwards, Constantine tells Ritchie that the Dreamstone isn’t sentient and that he’s been influenced by Destiny’s remaining soul in order to help him prep his eventual return.
Just then, the Dreamstone bonds to his chest. Realizing too late that he’s being double-crossed, the final fragment merges itself with the larger piece as Ritchie’s body ends up getting compromised with Destiny making his return.
After quickly forming a force field around himself, he then proceeds to blow up the House of Mystery before taking off to unleash chaos on humanity.
Fortunately, Zatanna managed to create a force field in order to shield herself and her comrades from the blast. However, the strain becomes too much as she passes out. After John uses a pendant in order to cast a protective field around her unconscious body, Batman says that they must stop Destiny. Jason agrees, since he’ll have the nearby city conquered by midnight, claim the entire Eastern Seaboard by dawn and before long, he’ll achieve world domination. From there, Constantine casts a spell in order to transport himself and his fellow teammates off to battle.
Over in Metropolis, chaos has reached a fever pitch as citizens are forced to fight each other since the Dreamstone makes them see each other as demons. With the fear running riot, Destiny’s power continues to grow with each passing second.
Deadman arrives and tries to intervene, but he’s unable to phase through the force field as Destiny easily smacks him away. As the rest of our heroes arrive, Batman informs his teammates that the Justice League are on their way. John says that those heroes should be fine, as long as they don’t go near Destiny.
However, Green Lantern arrives to engage their foe. Destiny then blasts him with the Dreamstone as Batman tries to contact his teammate and warn him about what just happened. Unfortunately, Stewart gets influenced by the magical blast as he suddenly sees the Dark Knight as a demon and proceeds to attack him.
Meanwhile, Jason uses his chant and transforms into Etrigan in order to combat Destiny. Try as he might though, his attacks are unable to penetrate the force field.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, Destiny hits Etrigan with a magical blast powerful enough to separate Jason Blood from him.
John decides to bring a certain friend back into the fray as he magically sets fire to a tree. Just as Destiny is floating by the roasting plant, he’s suddenly approached by a series of gigantic roots. Thinking that the sinister spellcaster was behind the burning tree, Swamp Thing emerges and proceeds to engage him.
Back with Batman, he continues to fend off Green Lantern before he manages to slip the ring off with his strong willpower (a callback to a certain moment from “Justice League: War”) and knocks John Stewart out for the count with a stun gun.
However, he has no time to celebrate as Wonder Woman arrives under Destiny’s influence and prepares to engage him with her Lasso of Truth. Fortunately, a fully-recovered Zatanna teleports in and uses her magic to tie Diana up with her own lasso.
She then quickly protects Batman from another surprise attack. This time, it was from an equally-influenced Superman.
Meanwhile, Swamp Thing proceeds to engage Destiny. Even though he’s not able to penetrate the force field, the “Defender of the Green” is able to smack the ages-old foe around the city.
Unfortunately, Destiny gains the edge over Swamp Thing as he uses his magic to actually separate Dr. Alec Holland’s corpse from his body. With no human host inside of him, the “Guardian of the Green” is forced to retreat back into the ground.
With even Swamp Thing defeated, Deadman wonders how they’re going to deal with Destiny. John then comes up with an idea: a Trojan Horse. As such, they head off to enact their plan.
Seeing Constantine just standing in front of him, Destiny proceeds to magically pick him up and drag him into his force field in order to properly confront him. However, John unleashes his surprise attack as Deadman emerges from his body and is able to possess Destiny.
After a brief struggle, Boston is finally expelled from his foe’s body. Fortunately, the tussle caused Destiny to drop his force field as Jason Blood takes advantage of his opportunity and plunges Etrigan’s sword through his chest, dislodging the Dreamstone in the process.
From there, John unleashes a spell in order to incinerate Destiny’s soul. The villainous wizard ties to summon the Dreamstone, but Batman takes care of the mystical rock with an explosive Batarang. As such, Destiny is completely incinerated as Ritchie is freed from the evil spellcaster.
Unfortunately for him, he’s then confronted by a group of Shrouds. Ritchie begs his friend to help him, but John says that he can’t take the chance since he doesn’t want there to be any way for Destiny to return again. As such, Ritchie’s soul gets separated from his body and proceeds to get literally dragged to Hell.
Shortly after our heroes reunite with each other, Jason suddenly feels a staggering pain in his chest. Because Destiny has finally been defeated and since he’s no longer bound to Etrigan, the fatal wound that he suffered 500 years earlier has returned. Feeling satisfied with how he’s going out, Jason succumbs to his injury and passes on.
We then cut to sometime later in Britain where Jason’s body has been buried on the outskirts of his village. As John and Zatanna pay their final respects, so too does Etrigan who even likes him as “a brother”.
Shortly after the demon warrior takes his leave, Zatanna exclaims that Batman has offered her a chance to join the Justice League. After saying that it would allow her “to make a difference”, she says that a spot was also offered to John. However, he declines. Just as she’s about to take her leave back to her dressing room, he exclaims that he has been “a bit rash” and would like to rekindle their personal relationship over a drink, to which she ultimately agrees.
With the House of Mystery magically rebuilt and Black Orchid completely whole again, John and Zatanna head inside with their beer mugs and begin their rekindled friendship.
Shortly afterwards, Deadman arrives as he sees Black Orchid standing by the front door. Interested in pursuing a different kind of relationship, he heads inside. And so, the film ends with the House of Mystery taking its leave.
Now, we move onto my character analysis as we kick things off with John Constantine. When we’re first introduced to him, we see someone who’s been dealing in the supernatural for a long time. As shown in the House of Mystery, he’s collected a lot of artifacts that helps him conjure up various spells and incantations with ease. Because of what he’s dealt with throughout his life and the various otherworldly things that he’s been through, those experiences must have left him jaded and somewhat untrustworthy towards others. His devil-may-care rebel nature and sly attitude has made him an annoyance towards several people, which includes unintentionally setting Ritchie down a devious path. Through his relationship with Zatanna, they share enough of a respect for each other for them to work together as she makes him become less rash. Working with other superheroes also helps him develop a sense of trust and leadership, especially when they delve into the same field as he does. Matt Ryan feels right at home here, since he’s not too far removed from a short-lived series that gave him some recognition. His whit, banter and tone register in the right way for his character to shine.
Next up, we have our main heroine in Zatanna. Although she’s just as skilled in magic as John, she starts off as being more of an entertainer with her abilities. Because she’s showing off her amazing feats to the masses, she’s nowhere near as jaded as Constantine. The film establishes fairly early on that she used to date John, but it ultimately fell apart (due to a hilariously stupid reason). As the situation unfolds, she becomes more adept in magical combat. Just as she grounds John into becoming more of a likable person, he helps ground her in her progression, especially when she nearly loses control of herself when she’s finally able to strike back against Felix Faust. Throughout the film, they display nice signals that they still care and respect each other until in the end, they decide to start rebuilding their friendship, especially since she gets rewarded with a spot on the Justice League. Camilla Luddington has a good command over her role, delivering a mainly light-hearted and confident performance for all to hear.
Moving on, we have our two-for-one special in Jason Blood and Etrigan The Demon. As shown in the film, they’re directly tied together with Destiny due to what happened in their backstory. Because of how things played out back in the time of Camelot, Jason is burdened with unintended immortality by Merlin, just as Etrigan is bound to him despite being promised his freedom following his initial triumph over Destiny. Originally a knight of Camelot, it was Jason’s task to rid the land of the vile wizard. He would never have guessed that would take pairing up with a demon warrior and living hundreds of years in order to finally finish that goal. Early on, he did mention to John that he’s been trying to keep Etrigan under control for fear of it running amok. However, that never comes to pass. I’m not sure if there’s some form of symbiotic relationship that subtly formed between them over a long period of time or if he fears that Etrigan’s efforts to stop a felon would lead to dire consequences in some way, shape or form. By the end, they’re more than capable of working together whether merged as one or not. In combat, Etrigan shines really well during his action scenes. Whether he’s fighting demons or Destiny himself, he looks glorious. Either way, Ray Chase turns in a fairly good performance. As Jason Blood, he’s subdued and stern, yet confident. As Etrigan, his tones are deep and brooding, but never depressing.
As we swing on, we now get to Deadman. Serving as a comic relief of sorts, he does do some wise-cracking. Thankfully, it never becomes over-exaggerated as he stays focused on the mission at hand. His backstory gets shown, which is nice since it helps those who aren’t as familiar with the character. It’s unknown how long he’s been in this state of undead, which is interesting since the ending does imply that he decides to be with Black Orchid, since he’s non-living and she’s non-human. Either way, they have a similarity to start from. In a way, one could look as his superpower and claim that his ability to possess others represents him adopting temporary personas before he decides to be with Black Orchid. It doesn’t really go that extreme, but it’s peculiar food for thought. Other than that, Nicholas Turturro is pleasant in the role. His performance comes off as a bit jokey, but he still cares enough to fight alongside his friend and that confidence shines through.
We now move on to our main villain, Destiny and his personal puppet in Ritchie Simpson. As I thought about it, I realized that Destiny is in the same category of powerful foes who are sealed away, yet has enough influence from the outside to help him escape and create chaos on the world. I’m sure that there’s plenty of villains who fit this mold, but Trigon from “Justice League vs. Teen Titans” definitely comes to mind. Since there’s not much development outside of his key backstory, there’s not a whole lot more to draw from him other than he’s a nearly overpowered foe and that Alfred Molina does fairly well despite having to deliver the majority of his line in an altered filter. As such, we have Ritchie who’s stuck in a bitter state due to the magical cancer that was unintentionally inflicted onto him. He ultimately becomes desperate enough to have Destiny influence him into acquiring a single Dreamstone fragment in order to find the remaining rock and keep himself alive. He’s a bit tragic since all he wanted was to cure his magical ailment and he blames John for what happened to him. He was unaware that Destiny was using him to come back into the world and had no plans of helping him out. In the end, he’s forced to pay an eternal price for aligning himself with a despicable being, as the Shrouds waiting outside him home turned out to be subtle foreshadowing. Jeremy Davies turns in an interesting performance here, as his hippie-esque tone is down-to-Earth and combines with his character’s predicament in order to throw us off his trail until late into the film.
The animation continues to effortlessly flow and its color palette combines oh-so well to deliver on its supernatural atmosphere. While the four heroes that I described effortlessly carry this film, Batman’s presence is understandable since the Justice League was facing a crisis that they couldn’t handle. Plus, he holds himself really well without needing a character arc, since the J.L.D. is the main focus of this film. With what little screen-time that he has here, Swamp Thing was handled fairly well. Of course, his standout moment was when he fought Destiny. Seeing his roots knocking his foe around was powerful enough to give our heroes enough of a second wind. Finally, Black Orchid serves her purpose just enough since she’s the physical manifestation of the House of Mystery and only exists within the building. The action is handled well, since it allows our heroes to display their abilities. It would have been nice to see a spell combination from our heroes, but they were teaming up for the first time. For the most part, the story is well-told. However, there is a puzzling moment that confuses me when I look back at this tale from start to finish. Before our heroes confront him, Felix apparently conjures up an unnatural tornado and a Poop Monster for them to encounter. Later on when Faust is defeated and is shown a ring that a certain shadowy figure was wearing during its possession, he says that he’s not sure since he has several different rings in his collection. When our heroes realize that Felix isn’t the one behind the “nightmare crimes” and John states that he could access the “artifact” whenever he pleased, he’s confused as to the artifact they were talking about. If Felix did have access to the Dreamstone, then was he somehow under Destiny’s influence while using it and is made to forget once he’s served his purpose? Unlike Ritchie, he doesn’t seem to be directly connected with Destiny. In a way, this is similar to the villain structure in “Batman Begins” where there’s three foes and there’s a progressive way they’re handled where they’re never directly working together. It’s different here since it seems that Felix isn’t working with either Destiny or Ritchie. Either way, he’s effective enough to misdirect the viewer from what’s really taking shape.
Overall, this is a mainly solid entry. The characters are enjoyable to watch, the animation is solid, the action is very engaging and it serves itself well at introducing several heroes who aren’t as well-known to the casual DC crowd. While the main villain is slightly above-OK and the story isn’t as flawless as it could have been, it’s still a strong entry that showcases the eerie and mystical side of the DC Universe. If you have get the chance, check it out for a supernatural good time.
Next Time: We stay in the New 52 Animated Universe as we rejoin our favorite youthful heroes. From a certain assassin to a villainous organization and a particular new team member with questionable motives, it’s safe to say that they’re going to have their hands full. An iconic tale will finally have its day as we head into “Teen Titans: The Judas Contact”.
Justice League Dark (created by Peter Milligan), Justice League (created by Gardner Fox) and all related characters are owned by DC Comics.
2 replies on “DC Universe Animated Original Movies (Part 27): Justice League Dark”
Just wanna state that this is extremely helpful, Thanks for taking your time to write this.
I’m glad I could help.