To coincide with the theatrical release of the live action Justice League, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment will release the DC Universe Original Movies: 10th Anniversary Collection (see full details here) on November 7th. AFJ decided to highlight some of those titles in anticipation of the new live-action film (out November 17th). Yes, it is called riding the hype wave. Enjoy Junkies! #AFJ4LIFE

Starring: Michael C. Hall, Benjamin Bratt, Tamara Taylor, Paget Brewster, Jason Isaacs, C. Thomas Howell
Running time: 76 Minutes
Directed by: Sam Liu
Original Year of release: 2015

Justice League: Gods & Monsters marked the return of Bruce Timm to the DC Universe. That man was responsible for shaping our collective perception of how the animated DC Universe should look and sound. The story of Justice League: Gods & Monsters is his own and is set in a universe very different from the one we know. In this universe, General Zod’s son is Superman (voiced by Benjamin Bratt). Kirk Langstrom becomes the Batman (Michael C. Hall) and not Man-Bat. Finally, Wonder Woman (Tamara Taylor) does not hail from Paradise Island, but is, in fact, Bekka, one of the New Gods. They are still heroes, just with a darker approach to how they handle their business.

Strange assassins in this universe are killing off the world’s top scientists. They appear through Boom Tubes (transportation devices used by the New Gods) and leave each victim with incriminating evidence implicating the Justice League. The United States government is already on edge with the Justice League and feels that their methods are too violent. They are also beginning to suspect that the Justice League will one day take over the world.

In the course of the story, Superman, Wonder Woman, and Batman have their unique origins revealed to the audience. Superman was raised by immigrant workers in the US and saw that people only understand force. Wonder Woman left her home after a horrific family coup. Batman was injected with nanites combined with his own bat formula in hopes of curing himself. It made him incredibly powerful, but he craves blood. Where the story turns personal is when Superman hires one of the scientists to help unwrap Kryptonian technology and the man is brutally murdered. Batman investigates the murder and finds a connection to Will Magnus (C. Thomas Howell), creator of the Metal Men and lifelong friend to Kirk Langstrom.  All the previously murdered scientists have a connection, they have all worked for Lex Luthor (Jason Isaacs).

Our characters are dark, yet still heroes. It is an interesting approach to the icons we know so well, but it makes for a great story and debate. What if Batman was really a monster? If Superman was raised by good people under the boot heel of another, how would that shape his perception of justice? What if you were betrayed by everyone you cared about, but still wanted to do the right thing?

Justice League: Gods & Monsters is a great twist on familiar characters in a completely unfamiliar universe. At no time did the Bruce Wayne or Diana Prince as we know them to appear. You expect there to be some connection or hero from our universe to be the main villain. This just wasn’t the case. The runtime of 76 minutes is staggering because there is so much story here that you’ll wonder why Timm isn’t spear-heading the live action DC Universe. This was one of the best Elseworlds stories I have ever experienced. It never held back and followed through with all of its characters. Bruce Timm and his team have set the bar very high once again.

This is not a film for the kiddies. In fact, it may be the closest thing that DC’s Animated Universe has ever delivered to an R rating, that isn't one. The Unholy Trinity of this story eliminates an early threat so violently, that most parents will turn it off. I’ve seen a lot of these animated films and nothing prepared me for this. As a fan and a critic, it was completely refreshing. Just don’t let the kids watch it.

Justice League: Gods & Monsters Special Features:

  • ALTERNATE REALITIES: Infinite Possibilities - Justice League: Gods & Monsters falls into a category of storytelling where our well-known characters and the worlds they inhabit are re-imagined. This documentary explores the various attempts by writers to have a little fun and tinker with the characters, resulting in exceptional storytelling that posed thought-provoking questions to audiences.
  • CALCULATED RISKS: The Making of Gods and Monsters – Justice League: Gods & Monsters was an idea that pushed the boundaries.  It began with that challenging question writers face: “What haven’t we seen before?”  Bruce Timm and Alan Burnett audaciously answered that challenge, resulting in a fresh and exciting film that forces us to think differently about the DC Universe.
  • The New Gods – Encore presentation of 2010 documentary about Jack Kirby’s New Gods.
  • A Sneak Peak at DC Universe’s Next Animated Movie – An advance look at the next DC Universe animated feature film.
  • Bonus cartoons from the DC Comics Vault

Justice League: Gods & Monsters DVD contains the following special features:

  • A Sneak Peak at DC Universe’s Next Animated Movie – An advance look at the next DC Universe animated feature film.
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