Bruce Timm has been the preeminent name in DC Animation since 1992 serving as the guiding force behind Batman: The Animated Series, Superman, Batman Beyond and Justice League. To say he’s one of the most important figures in various comic book mediums in the last 20 years is probably an understatement.
That’s why the box sticker for the latest DC Entertainment project, Justice League: Gods and Monsters, simply says ‘All-New Original Movie from Bruce Timm.’ It’s essentially stating new DC masterpiece, come get it!
Still, Timm had been away from DC animated projects since 2007. And his proposal of an alternate Earth with darker versions of Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman may have felt dated. It’s certainly not like DC isn’t determined to make all of its properties the grittiest, darkest mainstream possible.
But, fans of DC animated efforts can rejoice after a few lackluster efforts. Gods and Monsters marks yet another outstanding Timm production and a superior entry in the DC Entertainment catalog right alongside Justice League: Flashpoint Paradox, Wonder Woman 2009 [Blu-ray], Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths [Blu-ray] and Batman: Under the Red Hood [Blu-ray].
Free of the constraints from the regular DC continuity, Timm and screenwriter Alan Burnett explore an Elseworlds scenario completely different from the normal DC Trinity. Superman’s (Benjamin Bratt) Kryptonian father was not Jor-El, but General Zod and he was raised as Hernan Guerra.
There’s a Batman flying around in this alternate world, but it’s Kirk Langstrom (Michael C. Hall) battling his vampire bloodlust. Likewise Bekka aka Wonder Woman (Tamara Taylor) is so drastically different she’s not even an Amazon.
The characterizations are fascinating. Superman rarely stands at ground level preferring to hover while speaking perhaps a show of his superiority after being raised by immigrants. Bekka has a dark past she’s struggling to overcome shown in one of the film’s standout scenes.
Batman is clinging to his remaining ties to humanity with college friends Will Magnus (C. Thomas Howell) and Tina (Grey Griffin). Although they’re still working with U.S. officials it seems only a matter of time before this Justice League evolves into a fully above the law fascist group that rules the planet with fear and intimidation.
Whetting our appetite for the Justice League: G & M prequel web series, the story kicks off with the trio already assembled and investigating a case of missing scientists. The mounting evidence strongly indicates the League is behind it, but the real culprit has a connection with the reclusive Lex Luthor (Jason Isaacs).
Retaining the visual design cues from other Timm projects, the film looks all-ages friendly, but Gods and Monsters definitely warrants its PG-13 rating thanks to a number of explicitly violent battle scenes and foul language.
DC Animated films have been trending bloodier with each installment, but in this instance, it doesn’t come across as so needlessly gratuitous since the main characters aren’t trying to be heroes in the standard sense. The action sequences are well animated and Director Sam Liu (All-Star Superman) keeps them moving without being too chaotic or endlessly going on to the point of repetition.
There are a number of Easter Eggs for longtime DC fans with hints to heroes like Steel, Dr. Light, The Atom I and II, The Metal Men and The New Gods. It certainly had me wanting to see more of this world’s take on other DC characters.
Beyond the latest Batman and new 52 version Justice League films, DC Entertainment rarely sticks to one continuity from one film to the next, but this realm of the DC Universe definitely warrants further exploration.
We’re set for a new take on the Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman with Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, but all of a sudden they’ve got some serious competition for best reimagining thanks to Timm’s creative spin on the classics.
Rating: 10 out of 10
Get it on Blu-Ray: Justice League: Gods and Monsters (Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD UltraViolet Combo Pack)
Get it on DVD: Justice League: Gods and Monsters (DVD)
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