As Justice League: Gods and Monsters opens, the much familiar setting of Krypton comes into focus and we see the repetitive story of Kal-El’s departure from the planet. This is the reason that I immediately began to judge the film after reading rave reviews from superhero nuts and critics alike, as I was skeptical as to just why we needed to see Superman leaving Krypton again. Never have I been so wrong to judge a movie from its opening few minutes.
Gods and Monsters doesn’t include its Kryptonian exodus scene for the sheer purpose of including it in a Superman story. No, after seeing Kal-El not being Kal-El at all and seeing the substitute Lor-zod, son of General Zod and Lara, being sent to earth and discovered by Mexican farmers, it becomes clear that this isn’t your normal Justice League tale. And that becomes even more clear once the film gets into the real story, in which Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman are grown up, fighting crime as they always have but not quite looking how you would expect them to.
No, Gods and Monsters, developed by DC patriarch Bruce Timm, takes everything we know about the Justice League and twists it, and the result is a superhero movie unlike anything that has come before it, for better or for worse. It’s a bizarre film, and I think that works to its advantage, and it makes it easily the most unique and approachable entry into the DC Animated Universe thus far.
In the alternate universe set up by the writers, Superman (Benjamin Bratt), Batman (Michael C. Hall), and Wonder Woman (Tamara Taylor) are the Justice League, and they get their kicks working outside the law as a brutal force of justice and a band of unlawful vigilantes. After a set of incidents involving the deaths of renowned scientists (including Victor Fries) across the globe, POTUS Amada Waller casts suspicions upon the Justice League. So, in typical comic book fashion, Batman investigates, Superman reasons, and Wonder Woman fights, all while the writers give us flashbacks of each character’s individual origins stories, all of which are handled brilliantly.
The voice cast for the movie is one of the better elements of it, with Michael C. Hall being the standout for voicing a cold and monotone Batman, and as a fan of the character, this is adaption that is part Batman Beyond and part Batman: The Animated Series, mixed with a bit of vampirism. Also, Bruce Timm and company have done a great job at making these characters interesting despite not looking or acting like we’ve ever seen them before. The action is really vigorous, being impressive for a DC animated movie, and it’s one of the more impressive action that this studio has put to the screen.
Gods and Monsters is a solid entry into the DC animated universe, one that takes a bit of getting used to, but once you’re in, you’re in. You may never want to see Superman wearing a trench coat with an S on his belt and a goatee on his face again, but you sure will be glad you saw it at least once.