Back in 2007, Warner Bros. Animation started released direct-to-home video animated movies featuring Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and other heroes published by DC Comics. Most of the films, which each run some 70-odd minutes long, were adaptations of popular graphic novels like The Dark Knight Returns and All-Star Superman. But there are a few, like Wonder Woman and Green Lantern: First Flight, that were original scripts rooted in comic book lore.
"New Frontier" figurine
As a life-long DC guy, I’ve enjoyed watching every single one as they are released. Best Buy started including an exclusive toy figurine beginning with the second title Justice League: The New Frontier. As a toy guy and as someone who also loved the original graphic novel, it was easy to decide to pick it up. Since then, Best Buy has gone and offered an exclusive toy figurine for all but one title (Batman: Gotham Knight). So guess who was a sucker getting every single one?
This past weekend, a friend mentioned watching one of them. It was one of the ones released midway in the series. Being as old as I’m getting, I couldn’t remember if I enjoyed it or not.
I watched it again and realized it wasn't one of my favorites.
So, for my own benefit that I can have something to refer to to remind myself which films I enjoyed the most and also to introduce you kind readers to these films, below is a list of the DC Universe Animated Movies currently available to buy or rent and my ratings of each. And as it so happens this may be a good time to explore these. The next title, Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox, is due out in two weeks. It’s based on a story published in the summer of 2011 that directly leads into that fall’s reboot of DC Comics’ entire line of comic books. Marketed as “The New 52”, every DC Comics title was reset to issue number 1 when a new timeline resulted from the conclusion of the Flashpoint story, making Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and all the rest exist in a present day time frame when the public had only been aware of these superheroes for five years. The idea was that this rebooting of origins, simplifying of 70-odd years of back stories and even fashion makeovers of heroes’ uniforms could make it easier and more appealing for brand new readers to jump into comic books, especially given the current Hollywood environment of heavily promoted and popular summer blockbuster movies based on comic book properties.
Before Flashpoint, movies previously produced have mainly been from a selection of popular graphic novels written in the past thirty years. Given the nature of Flashpoint’s role in DC’s publishing work, it wouldn't be surprising at all if the film adaptation served a similar purpose, rebooting the film series to feature stories based on the world of The New 52, perhaps focusing on lesser-known heroes. UPDATE: Confirmed just this morning that, at least initially, it's the former. See more details at the end of my blog.
So maybe this is an opportune moment to chat about these existing films. If you haven’t seen any, I recommend you consider giving my favorite five of the lot a try. They’re shown with comments in CAPS. And they’re really, really good!
Film 1 - Superman: Doomsday (2007) – Good.
Film 2 - Justice League: The New Frontier (2008) – Great!
Film 3 - Batman: Gotham Knight (2008) – Okay. Released the same time The Dark Knight debuted in theatres, a collection of six original short stories presented in various anime-style animation.
Film 4 – Wonder Woman (2009) – Great! An origin story not based on a specific graphic novel.
Film 5 – Green Lantern: First Flight (2009) – Fun! An origin story not based on a specific graphic novel.
Film 6 – Superman/Batman: Public Enemies (2009) – Okay.
Film 7 – Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths (2010) – Loved it!
Film 8 – Batman: Under the Red Hood (2010) – TOP FIVE
Film 9 – Superman/Batman: Apocalypse (2010) – Okay.
Film 10 – All-Star Superman (2011) – Great adaptation!
Film 11 – Green Lantern: Emerald Knights (2011) Good. Another collection of short stories featuring selected members of the Green Lantern Corps, released at the time of Ryan Reynolds’ Green Lantern film.
Film 12 – Batman: Year One (2011) – TOP FIVE!
Film 13 – Justice League: Doom (2012) – TOP FIVE!
Film 14 – Superman vs. The Elite (2012) – Not my fave.
Film 15 – Batman: The Dark Knight Returns Part One (2012) – AMAZE-BALLS!!
Film 16 – Batman: The Dark Knight Returns Part Two (2013) – GREAT!
Film 17 – Superman: Unbound (2013) – Okay. More interesting to watch immediately after Apocalyse since this takes place after that story.
And this just in...
As I was putting the finishing touches on this blog, Newsarama posted a tweet from Warner Bros. today confirming that the next DCU Animated movie will indeed take place in DC's New 52 universe. Justice League: War will adapt one of the first New 52 stories, Justice League: Origin, collecting the first six issues of the N52 title and describing how these seven heroes first met and how the Justice League ultimately came to be.
On the one hand, it's about time! N52 debuted almost two years ago, so it makes perfect sense to finally have the heroes' comic book looks and back stories finally align with this popular animated film series. On the other hand, I hated this story! It was mainly the personalities carved out by writer Geoff Johns that disappointed me, and how conflicts between them just felt more contrived for conflict's sake. I was also reading the solo books for The Flash, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Green Lantern, Batman and Superman as this story was unfolding, and because of the different writers across the books, I also became distracted when many of the heroes' personalities weren't consistent from the solo book to the Justice League book.
So it wasn't a great read for me. But what can I do? I guess just continue to hope that Best Buy goes on including figurines with each new N52 movie so my collection continues to grow. Because as I said, I'm a DC guy. I'm still gonna watch these movies!
Here's the trailer for the new movie, which goes on sale in exactly two weeks.
The Amazing Spider-Man
Midnight July 2, 2012
IMAX 3D @ Rave Motion Pictures 18 + IMAX @ The Promenade @ Howard Hughes Center
I'll give this 3 1/2 out of 4 web shooters. I might've given it only 3 except the teenage girl sitting next to me cried at all the right parts that a teenage girl's supposed to cry. So 1/2 point for that! The writing was wonderful, Garfield and Stone were GREAT as Peter and Gwen, and I especially like the tone of the first half of the movie. I even appreciating some of the risks and surprises they put in the story to keep us jaded and annoying comic book fans surprised. But I think The Dark Knight Rises in two weeks will be outstanding. And for the love of film scores, Mr. Horner, stop re-using your Star Trek II music in your new scores!!!! Those ten seconds pulled me right out of the film.
Fourth of July, 2012
Regal Marina del Rey 6
This movie went to so many wrong places! The kind that make you - or at least me - go, "I want to laugh, but is it okay to laugh; I don't know if other people in the theatre will be offended?" Every opportunity to make some racial, sexual, religious or socially stereotypical remark was not missed, which sometimes made several scenes run a beat or two too long. But I was entertained. And is Seth MacFarlane a geek or what?! I mean that seriously because I don't watch Family Guy regularly and the 1980 movie Flash Gordon is a major plot device in this film, to the point of re-creating scenes and using the score from that movie to move this story forward. Also loved the original score for Ted by Walter Murphy, of cool, swinging jazz like on MacFarlane's CD. Anyway, for a matinee price, it was good.
July 5, 2012
@ home on DVD
I felt compelled to revisit this film after seeing it referenced throughout Ted. Loved it as a kid, but it hasn't aged well. On this viewing tho' I finally noticed just how game the British actors were playing their parts. I re-watched the interview with Lorenzo Semple Jr. too that's included on the DVD. He falls just short of saying people who take comic book characters seriously are stupid. I wonder what he thinks about the comic book films that've come out today.
July 5, 2012
@ home on Blu-ray Disc
Starting my look back at selected Batman films before I see The Dark Knight Rises, I begin with Tim Burton and Michael Keaton's Batman. Amazing as ever on Blu-ray, this film will never fail to entertain me. Nostalgically, it reminds me of how grateful I was to finally see a successful tonal shift from camp to dark in the depiction of my absolute favorite comic book character. Then, it has Jack Nicholson brilliantly playing the life out of The Joker! I remember there were those who felt Cesar Romero had a better laugh. Pshaw! Jack's Joker hooked you in from the start and then kept you intrigued and amazed with the character throughout the rest of the film. This Batman wasn't the perfect Batman (that one arrived sixteen years later), but Burton and Keaton's take on Bruce and Batman fit fine in the world Burton created for The Batman, at a time when there were no other successful superhero movies but one, Superman: The Movie, and that had come out eleven years earlier at the time. Plus, the sentiment in '89 was that for all that could've gone wrong with Batman, the re-introduction of this dark creature of the night was a seminal moment for the cinematic Batman. On top of that, for better or worse, Tim Burton made it okay for Hollywood to tweak classic superhero costumes. That's a pretty big deal imo too (even tho' I wasn't 100% happy with the costume change at the time).
The Flash (1990)
July 6, 2012
@ home on DVD
After watching Tim Burton's Batman, I followed it up with the pilot episode of The Flash which came out a year after the movie. Ugh, I was always able to look past the awkwardness of the pilot before, but seeing it immediately after the brilliance of Batman was a mistake.
All About Me
A fan of Star Trek, Star Wars, Harry Potter, Batman, comic books, Blu-rays, Disney, soundtracks, taking pictures, theatre and...Barry Manilow!