DC UNIVERSE RETRO REVIEW – JUSTICE LEAGUE: THE FLASHPOINT PARADOX

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) out now. 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:  Justin ChambersC. Thomas HowellMichael B. Jordan, Kevin Conroy, Carey Elwes, Vanessa Marshall, Kevin McKidd
Running time: 
75 Minutes
Directed by: 
Jay Oliva
Original Year of release: 
2013

In a word, wow. To step back for just a second, I will have to go on record in saying that I am not an avid reader of The Flash comic. Actually, my knowledge of the character only goes so far. I did love the TV series that featured John Wesley Shipp in the early nineties. Outside of a few comics, I picked up here and there (usually crossovers), the character just doesn’t interest me.  What interested me here was the parallel universe and alternate timeline. Plus, who doesn’t want to see the adventures of Thomas Wayne as Batman? I tried not to set the bar too high. In fact, outside of Kevin Conroy not being Batman in The Dark Knight Returns (parts 1 and 2), I thought those films were Warner Brothers greatest achievements in animation. As for the best translation, All-Star Superman hit me right where it should have. However, I feel as if Justice League: Flashpoint Paradox might be the best single produced film to come from DC Entertainment and Warner Bros. Animation.

For those of you who haven’t read “The Flashpoint” comic, the premise is pretty simple. The Flash (Barry Allen, voiced by Justin Chambers) wakes up with the world on the brink of destruction. Aquaman (Carey Elwes) and Wonder Woman (Vanessa Marshall) are in the mix of an all-out war between their two kingdoms. What’s at stake? Mankind’s very existence. Cyborg (Michael B. Jordan) has been tasked by the President of the United States to gather up all the Meta-Humans and stop them. Cyborg needs Batman (Kevin McKidd) as the lynchpin in his plan. The only reason The Flash cannot go off and join the fight is, Barry Allen never was the Flash in this universe. Barry has all of his memories from the previous universe, it’s just that now he doesn’t have the speed he is accustomed to. Barry’s first plan is to seek out Batman for help.   

One of the great twists of this story (and believe me there are plenty) is having Thomas Wayne as the Dark Knight. This Batman’s origin is revealed and it has a dark outcome. Thomas Wayne now seeks out injustice dressed as a Bat. This is a darker Batman than perhaps we have ever seen before. Here, it is a great plot device and a reflection of how far away from our heroes this world is.

Eventually, Barry does indeed become the Flash again. The appeal to the non-comic book reader is discovering what happened to the other heroes. With the changes present, we all want to see what happened to the Green Lantern, Lex Luthor, and Superman. Answers are coming and surprising. What I found appealing were subtle reveals to characters like Deathstroke, Captain Cold, Clayface, and Captain Thunder. Look hard enough and you’ll see plenty of great cameos.

What genre fans and fans of these animated features will appreciate is that in no way is this one for the kiddies. To be honest, don’t the kids have enough already? With a series like Teen Titans Go! existing, shouldn’t the older fans get the stories they want, too? Justice League: Flashpoint Paradox is rated PG-13, a fact I had to double check after numerous occurrences that transpired on screen. I knew if it was Rated R, there would have been a big to-do about the film. Though, for a brief second, I thought perhaps it was unrated. I wonder what they did cut out of the film. The realism of this universe is exactly what the fans want and got.

Now, violence and “realistic dialogue” don’t usually bode well for a great story. In fact, those two things usually ruin a good story. Jay Oliva and James Krieg tell an incredible story of consequences and redemption. How close this is to Geoff John’s original story is something that I want to now discover. Each of us would love to go back and change one thing in our lives. Here, we see the consequences of what might happen if we had the power to do so. Their story reveals the power of knowing what is the right and wrong thing to do with the power you are given. It’s a fitting morality tale wrapped in the world of superheroes.

10 Total Score
AWESOME

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