I'm quite the fan of the Justice League; their one of the biggest influences in my life, they're the reason I've strongly believed in what Justice really meant for all. But like so many fellow fans of these remarkable legends, even I can show an open mind regarding these legends given the special treatment via alternate universes. In pop culture, alternate universes are one of the most popular topics, because alternate universes equal infinite possibilities. They can take our most beloved characters and stick them in a different world, and the possibilities are, again, infinite. Heroes could become villains, villains could become heroes, some of either could never exist, locations could be slightly or mostly different, the heroes/villains' origins could be slightly or mostly different, and so on. But the one thing that all alternate universes that have been created over the years that have in common, is the risk. Think about it for a moment: one or more characters you've deeply admired whether they're from live action shows and movies, animated shows and movies, anime shows and movies, video games and especially comic books, you've admired them so much that no matter how much of an open mind you possess, you wouldn't want there to be any major changes to them apart from the usual costume changes. That's what the many talented men and women behind hundreds if not thousands of alternate universes in every form of media are well aware of; they're basically making a huge gamble with all these alternate stories, and they don't know if there'll be a whole lot of praise for them or if too many people will see them as a mistake for many reasons that would take too long for me to explain, so I leave it to you reader. Point is here: these types of stories are always a pretty huge risk, but there are actually a few much bigger than most others.
Enter Justice League:Gods And Monsters, the latest entry in the wildly popular and ongoing series of PG-13 animated movies from DC Comics. Now I've watched all 25 movies so far since this whole thing started back in 2007, and not a single one of them disappointed me one bit, in fact their among my huge list of all time favorite movies( it's a REALLY huge list if I might add), but out of all of them, I was shown something on truly a whole other level with Justice League:Gods And Monsters. First off is that this masterpiece was thought of by visionary storyteller and animation legend Bruce Timm, the same man behind Batman:The Animated Series, and Justice League and Justice League Unlimited, so one way or another, whatever thoughts you've had with any or all of the DC Comics movies released so far, be it positive or negative, when we're given something from the man who basically shaped the animated world for DC Comics to this day, it's guaranteed to impress you. Bruce Timm knew himself that this film would be a huge risk, and it really was, but of course in my view, this has to be the biggest risk of all in the name of pop culture itself. Mr. Timm basically rebuilt the entire DC Universe as we know it right from the ground up, changing everything completely. An entirely alternate universe were the Justice League is instead a trio of absolute and unchecked power and terror, dealing brute and merciless force in the name of Justice. Where Superman isn't Clark Kent, not even Kal-El, he isn't even the son of the scientist Jor-El, but the ruthless military leader General Zod, and and doesn't land in the middle of peaceful Kansas, but in the Arizona desert where he was found and raised by a migrant Mexican couple stuck at the very bottom of the social economic ladder, forced to grow up suffering the absolute harshness of life. Batman isn't Bruce Wayne, but rather scientist Kirk Langstrom, normally the villainous Man-Bat, who was dying from cancer, and in a desperate attempt to save himself, created a special remedy called Bat-Venom, and used it on himself, curing his cancer, but not without causing severe side effects, as he was forever transformed into a powerful vampire with all the strengths and none of the weaknesses. Wonder Woman isn't Diana Prince of New Themiscyra, rather she's the New God Bekka, wife of Orion, who is the son of Darkseid, who fled to Earth after suffering a horrendous tragedy in her past. Given that this is a completely new and original story, it's impossible to know and guess what's going to happen, especially since there's a mystery wrapped in the story of this film. Because of their horrific reputation, it's not hard for the Justice League to get blamed by the people for everything when a group of famed scientists start getting killed off one by one. This film contains mature subject matter, but the biggest was asking a simple but complicated question: how do you serve Justice to those above the law?
"Someone once asked me if I wanted to save the world, or rule it. Today it's going to be hard to tell the difference". -Superman
This film has got to be one of the darkest and most compelling films in history in so many ways. For one would be how the violence in this film is used, of how it's so dark, bloody and ruthless. Unlike most movies or shows out there, live action, animated or even anime alike, which work to make the violence incredibly over the top, or even cool and edgy, the violence in this film, while equally impressive, is meant to be very compounded and gutting, it's supposed to be as realistic as possible, to shock and surprise, and it truly works. With the violent ways of how they've basically redefined Justice in this universe, the people have every right to fear and hate the Justice League as nothing more than a group of sadistic killers who protect the planet, but answer to no one but themselves.
While the Justice League do behave in violent ways and employ methods of intimidation and fear, they're definitely not similar to other groups we know of such as the Crime Syndicate, or even the Justice Lords, they're still heroes who go and fight for the sake of Justice, yet with everything going on with them, it's almost impossible to tell this dark version of the Justice League as saviors, or conquers. However, the film includes flashbacks of their origins, as a way to empathize with them, to show that the G&M DC Trinity aren't entirely the cold and sadistic killers people would like to believe.
Along with the powerful story and world created by Bruce Timm, everything else about this film was truly top-notch as well: from the voice acting, such as Benjamin Bratt providing serious tone and grit as Superman, Michael C. Hall giving a deep and seemingly cold speech as Batman, and of course Tamara Taylor delivering power and grace as Wonder Woman, right down to the animation style paying homage to the series Justice League Unlimited while given a modern polish, all that and much more spearheaded by Sam Liu, a great director known for his work in a few other DC films, specifically Justice League:Crisis On Two Earths and All-Star Superman. As said, this universe is absolutely different from what we're used to, as in how it's not just the Justice League who are completely different, but practically everyone else as well. That would include Lois Lane (voiced by Paget Brewster), who's a high ranking TV reporter rather than the Pulitzer-prize winning journalist we know, who expresses her complete hate towards the Justice League the most. Then there's the aforementioned scientists of the original DC Universe such as Ray Palmer, aka The Atom, Victor Fries, aka Mister Freeze, Silas Stone, father of Vic Stone aka Cyborg, Doctor Sivana, one of the enemies of Shazam, and also Will Magnus (voiced by C. Thomas Howell), the creator of the Metal Men, in which none of these scientists have never become The Atom, or Mister Freeze and so on. Even Amanda Waller, handler of the Suicide Squad, who's the President of the United States of America. Then there's Lex Luthor (voiced by Jason Issacs), known as Superman's greatest enemy, but here he's more like the demigod-like being called Metron, with large hints of Stephen Hawking and Albert Einstein added in there, and he also happens to play a really big role in the story as well, but I won't spoil that for you, you're going to have to see it for yourself. I was honestly not expecting something like this film, when I first learned of it, I was actually hooked on from the start, because like many others, I kept a complete open mind about this, that it'd be something truly great enough to be an instant classic. But once I saw the whole film, it absolutely blew me beyond my highest expectations, so unless I'm not the only one, Justice League: Gods And Monsters is undoubtedly the best animated film DC Comics has ever made, if not the best film they've made period, and even going as far as deeming it one of the greatest animated films of all time.
Not to mention they're really going far to make this movie into a complete event, including a small series of comic books outside the film, along with a three episode season of shorts dubbed Gods And Monsters Chronicles, each following separate adventures for the DC Trinity taking place before the film, with a second season made up of ten episodes set after the film to release in 2016, featuring the introduction of many new versions of several other DC heroes and villains, including Mary Marvel, a female Shazam, a nearly robot version of Steel, and a scary alien version of Green Lantern. But back to the main point, DC really took a huge risk, if not the biggest risk they've ever made with this new alternate universe, not really knowing if it truly paid off or not, and as it was a surprise, many people were really admiring this new alternate universe who, like me, saw this as something really enjoyable and thought provoking while being very refreshing, after going down the usual road despite how great it is, and that's something the creators, especially Bruce Timm, were doing. Bruce Timm wanted to do something different, as we've all gone down the usual road and obviously needed something refreshing to interest us in more ways than one, even if it meant making what would've been the biggest risk in pop culture history, because there would've been some out there actually believing that the characters and the universe were changed because they were hated by Bruce Timm. But quite the opposite, Bruce Timm loves these characters and this universe, that's why he changed them all, to make them into something more remarkable than they usually were, so he chose to change the Justice League into dark heroes who kill for the sake of Justice, and like many others, I look forward to seeing more of this dark, new yet impressive universe . So, Justice League:Gods And Monsters was the biggest risk ever taken in pop culture, and it not only paid off, this is an event that's never going to stop for anything, because it's only going to get bigger.