Injustice is one of the more fascinating concepts in recent DC lore. It started as a video game to just pit the DC heroes and villains against each other. As it gained in popularity, DC rightfully made a comic series to further establish this universe and it became a major hit that was well regarded by fans and critics alike.
It’s taken Warner Animation some time, but Injustice finally gets the animated feature film presentation. But is the fan favorite franchise actually done justice with this adaptation?
Maybe you’ve heard this one before comic fans, but you’re likely to be disappointed with this take of your beloved story.
The concept of Injustice is fantastic. Superman’s (Justin Hartley, Smallville) world is rocked when The Joker murders Lois Lane. In turn, Superman gets decisive payback against The Joker to Batman’s (Anson Mount, Inhumans) horror.
Wonder Woman (Janet Varney) is fully on board with Superman’s desire to clean up Earth. Most of the Justice League wants no part of a totalitarian form of government led by Superman.
One of the film’s best scenes features Mr. Terrific (Edwin Hodge, The Tomorrow War) showing Superman the flaw in his thinking over a game of chess. It’s exceptional in how Terrific quickly shows how this one action could have dangerous repercussions for everyone.
Realizing his friend has gone too far, Batman assembles a team to take down Superman and Wonder Woman. Among this squad naturally is his first sidekick, Nightwing (Derek Phillips); Catwoman (Anika Noni Rose, The Good Wife), Green Arrow Reid Scott) and Harley Quinn (Gillian Jacobs, Invincible). Plastic Man (Oliver Hudson) is also a surprisingly solid choice for Batman’s squad.
Superman’s forces aren’t as massive, but he does have Cyborg (Brandon Micheal Hall) and Hawkman to help balance the odds and an unexpected ally in Ra’s al Ghul (Faran Tahir). And where does Robin (Zach Callison) stand?
The setup for Injustice is very well done. It sets the stage for DC’s equivalent of Civil War perfectly only to immediately start taking out players on the battlefield.
- DC Comics 10/19-21 – Batman #115, Nightwing #85
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Co-screenwriter Ernie Altbacker has been involved on a number of DC Animation adaptations. His biggest success was Teen Titans: The Judas Contract, a fantastic modern translation of the classic Teen Titans story. Altbacker has been tasked with condensing much longer stories into the standard 80-minute format like Batman: Hush or wrapping the New 52 era films in Justice League Dark: Apocalypse War.
In fairness this would be a tough ask for most writers. DC’s best stories aren’t so easily crammed into a 78- to 80-minute timeframe. That’s why Warner Animation’s best films lately have been those that allow a longer story time to play out by releasing two films i.e. Batman: The Long Halloween and Batman: The Dark Knight Returns.
Altbacker and co-writer Ian Rodgers fall into a new era DC Animation trap of mistaking violence for quality storytelling. Injustice comic writer Tom Taylor understands how to maximize death for the sake of story. Taylor will kill off characters in a meaningful way that add to the story.
With this animated adaptation, Altbacker and Rodgers seem convinced the brutally sudden shocking deaths of characters makes the story. Instead it just adds to the body count. And are writers just stumped on how to use speedsters in these kind of films?
Character designs are appropriately larger than life and not as slender as Superman: Man of Tomorrow. Action scenes are crisp and showcase the heroes’ powers in great measure.
It feels like every few years Warner Animation takes a moment to get comfortable casting a long-term DC trinity. Hartley, Mount and Varney are tremendous in their roles and should be the main performers for DC’s big guns over the next several projects.
Injustice has become a massive, sprawling thoughtfully laid out universe that was never going to be done properly with one movie.
It’s probably time for Warner Animation to come up with a different release strategy for projects. Release Injustice: Dawn of Injustice in 2021, announce a follow-up in 2022 and if need be, a third installment later. Comic audiences won’t ditch a well done franchise — see the box office obliteration success of Avengers: Endgame.
Injustice easily has enough material to play out for multiple movies. The biggest mistake here was trying to pack everything into one film and hope for the best.
Rating: 6 out of 10
Photo Credit: INJUSTICE © 2021 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. JUSTICE LEAGUE and all related characters and elements TM & © DC.
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