In my last article I gave a detailed list as to the top 10 DC animated pictures, in my personal opinion, made. I also mentioned at the beginning that I found the majority of the films on the original post that invoked my reply to be mediocre at best. So with that in mind I figured another top list was necessary. Counting down from the bottom, I will go through my 8 major discrepancies with the current stream of DCAU films.
8. Mistaken Identity
When Justice League War was announced, I was initially very excited. A new DCAU picture focusing on the Justice League. As you may recall there were only 1 or 2 Justice League features on my aforementioned list, so the possibility of a good Justice League animated film was exciting. However, then it came. Justice League: War was not a bad film, it did what it was supposed to in ways: introduce the leaguers, unite them, etc., etc. However, that being said it kind of felt like it was off. After taking a closer look at the film upon a second viewing, I noticed something. The problem with this movie is that it's not a Justice League movie. It's a movie that is trying VERY hard to be Avengers Assemble (2012). That was a huge hit to the gut that DC would stoop to this. That after over 20 years of acclaimed success in the animated medium that they thought so low of their own characters that they said: "these guys are cool, butttttttttt MARVEL, it's hot right now." From stilted, pseudo-Shakespearean dialogue from Wonder Woman (and a scene that is a blatant rip off from the thor movie), a Captain Marvel who quips and is lacking any sense of maturity (very similar to a certain web headed avenger I can think of), Batman being much snarkier than normal and rubbing his wealth and intelligence in everyone's face (well I mean they are both rich orphans.... kinda) , to everyone being afraid of Superman (if only the Hulk could fly) this movie was filled to the brim with Marvel characters, but sadly lacking in any DC characters. It's a shame because you look at all the designs and you see these characters are supposed a new pantheon of heroes, and well they aren't even close to the mark. It's one thing to take pointers from another company, apply what worked for them to help, but it's a whole other thing to piss away the legacy of some of the most iconic heroes in the book just to attempt to attain a larger audience.
7. Forcing Characters down our throat
This gripe really is only valid for the new Batman animated features that have come out existing in this "New 52" universe, however, it is nonetheless a thing that DC has been doing that pisses me off more than anything. The character in question that they have been choking us with for FOUR movies is Damian Wayne. Damian comes as a bit of a controversy in the community in that half of everyone hates his guts, and the other half love him. I fall into the former. I have never really enjoyed Damian at all, ever. I think that he is a poorly written amalgamation of all the traits of previous people that fans liked to form the ultimate fangasm sidekick. He's smart like Tim, trained and skilled like Dick, and the insecurities and stubbornness of Jason Todd. Add on the fact that he is the biological son of Bruce Wayne, and you have got the shit package that is Damian Wayne. So in other words, you either love this guy, or you hate him, no real middle ground here. DC knows this, as it is important to follow the interests of your consumer market, but what do they do, LET'S MAKE DAMIAN THE PROTAGONIST OR LEAD SUPPORT IN 4 MOVIES!!!!!! I didn't think that I could hate Damian Wayne any more than I did than in the comics, but congratulations DC after 4 films with this character and having him undergo ZERO development as a character, you have official managed to make me despise Damian Wayne more than I knew I could.
6. Deleting characters from existence/ not using characters to full potential
This complaint also roots itself in the Batman films. Along with forcing aforementioned character down our throats, the DCAU has deemed it okay to just completely delete the existence of all the other Robins that came in between Dick Grayson and Damian Wayne. What. The. Fuck. Before I go further into this, for the readers who are relative novices to the comic book world and are not familiar with what I am talking about, then general consensus is that Batman has officially had 4 Robins: Dick Grayson (who after feeling the shadow of the Bat consume his life, decided it would be best to go solo as Nightwing), Jason Todd (who was an angry little shit that got killed off because the fans hated him, however a few years ago he was revived to become the vigilante anti hero known as Red Hood and is one of the most popular Bat-family members now), Tim Drake (the only Robin to become so by using detective work to discover Bruce's identity, and who left Batman to lead his own team of Teen Titans after years of working alongside him, he now goes by Red Robin), and then Damian. So now that we have established those facts, we can go back to where I left off. The DCAU completely ignores the existence of 2 of the most iconic and money garnishing bat family properties that they have, not to mention deprive Damian the different perspectives of working with Batman and forming relationships with more people that, you know, would allow him to grow.
This complaint gets two parts though, as I feel that both are closely tied. The under utilizing the characters to full potential is about their complete wasting and even nerfing at times of Nightwing. Dick Grayson is an incredible character that is an immense fan favorite, and his scenes in both Son of Batman and Batman vs Robin were highlights of those very meh films. They do a very good job of trying to make him the protagonist of Bad Blood, but the film devolves into Batvengers in the second half (which goes back to point 1, YOU'RE NOT MARVEL, DC! and you certainly don't need a fucking super team of bat vigilantes). However, after the amazing work they did do with Nightwing in Bad Blood, myself and I'd assume most others, were excited to see him be a big part in Justice League vs Teen Titans, to have Dick trying to help Damian see the value of playing as a part of a team. Speaking of team, way to waste a Teen Titans movie by making it solely about Damian and Raven! (Evidence of both point 7 and 8) People wanted to see Teen Titans, but the Titans were a cameo in their own movie!
5. Hal Jordan is useless
I got heavily into DC by watching the Justice League as a kid, then I started branching into the comics, so John Stewart will always be the main Green Lantern to me (even though Kyle Rayner is my favorite). When they brought back Hal as the main Leaguer Lantern, I was a little apprehensive at first, however, I was like: "if they write him well, it will be great." Except he is the Johnny Storm of the new Justice League films, and not the interesting Johnny Storm that we got to see after his revival during Future Foundation, I mean Chris Evans for the Fantastic Four movies bad (also this goes back to my first point, reskinned Marvel character). In Justice League: War, all he does is constantly get his ass kicked, and not shut up about how great he is. In Throne of Atlantis he literally just gets his ass kicked by Orm and gets bitched out by Batman twice. I think that just about covers this point
4. Inconsistent Voice Casting
Between Justice League War and Throne of Atlantis there were several voice cast changes. I get that DC is trying to get a feel for the right people to do the job of voicing the league, however, they honestly already struck gold with it for the animated series, I don't see why it's so stupidly difficult for them to just keep as much of that voice cast as humanly possible. I mean dear goodness the new Batman sounds like shit, and Green Lantern didn't sound great until Throne of Atlantis (Nathan Fillion is Hal Jordan and should just be him permanently), it's just ridiculous. I don't understand why DC won't just keep things that work together.
Now initially I was going to do just a big section on the mishandling of villains, but I realized that I could go on for 4 pages about it between the complete ruining of Deathstroke in Son of Batman, to having the Court of Owls feel like a second fiddle story line to a very shitty Damian has daddy issues storyline. Rather than doing that, I figured I would take the two BIGGEST sham shows of villains and give these two their own sections. Darkseid is the god of anti-life and ruler of the planet Apokalyps. When I was growing up, like most things DC, I was introduced to him through the Justice League show (if you haven't been able to tell thus-far, I hold this show in the highest regard and if you haven't seen it please do). In Justice League, Darkseid is voiced by Michael Ironside, who brings that character to life. Darkseid is horrifying, a force to be reckoned with, but most importantly also has personality. This is provided by good writing of course, but also in good voice acting that projects the character well. What is a shame about Darkseid's voicing in Justice League: War is that it's done by an incredibly talent voice actor. Steven Blum has voiced in many things from the Mass Effect series as Grunt, to his several animated ventures as Wolverine, and even as Amon in the hit follow up series Legend of Korra. However, the way he was directed to voice Darkseid is so monotone. I understand they were hoping to make it sound ominous, demon like, and inhuman for intimidation, but frankly the voice paired with his dialogue was an absolute bore. What hurt it even more was that they have Darkseid do not much of anything, like he hovers into the city and the Leaguers are all landing haymakers on him and aren't doing any damage to him and he's just taking hits without flinching for the most part. I get why they did that, they wanted to make him look like a powerhouse, but if a character stands still for too long in any given animated medium, that character starts to have more in common with a concrete wall than with any living thing. He should have been actually fighting and destroying the league by himself.
When they released the first look of Throne of Atlantis a few years back I was blown away. It looked like it had potential to be one of the BEST animated DC features to date. One of the things that resonated so strong from the trailer is the moment where you see Darkseid cause the underwater volcanoes causing all the death of the sea life, but after that you see ocean master coming up out of the water with his father's corpse in his hands, and you can see the pain on his face. The dialogue rings in the back "This is TERRORISM!" the voice of Orm screams at his mother as she replies "What would you have me do Orm, sound the drums of war to honor your father's memory," and I remember the goosebumps that went down my spine as I saw Orm bend a knee, eyes glowing, and using the trident to summon the power of the see as he yelled "I will bring our world CRASHING down on theirs." I just remember my jaw being dropped. I was just thinking to myself: "oh my god, this is going to be great." Then it came time for its release, and I was proven wrong.
The film wasn't bad by any means, but it certainly did not stack up the way it could have, the way it should have. Orm ended up being a child throwing a temper tantrum the entire time, and Black Manta was the Iago sending him down the path of temper land. This could have been pulled off right, however, they tried to also make Orm genuinely evil. Key note, if you are going to make the guy you are showcasing as the distraction, it is genuinely a good idea to make something redeemable about him. However, they don't do that. Instead, they once again try to make this Marvel. Orm becomes the DCAU's version of Loki, and boy was I pissed. The character I was expecting was far better written than anything Loki and I was mad. It's not exactly as if he doesn't have genuine reason to be so clouded by anger. I mean really, let's take a look at things that we saw established in the movie:
-His mother has an affair with another man before his parents betrothal and it resulted in a child out of wedlock
-Mother does not care at all about Orm's father's death from what it seems
-Mother is intentionally withholding the throne from Orm to give it to a bastard brother who has no clue that this world exists, let alone how it works
-the formation of the Justice League poses a threat to the future security of Atlantis.
Any number of those reasons are excellent drive for a villain, and if you combined them to be a guy who is just sad and angry about the death of his father and sees handing over the crown to this new comer to make peace with a world that for all he knows could try to destroy him would have been amazing. Orm could have been on Hamlet level of characterization. However, nah we are just making him power hungry and prejudice against humans because it worked for Loki.
1. read to find out!
The biggest problem I have with the DCAU is the fact that despite all the mediocrity that they have put out, they still occasionally release something amazing. Dark Knight Returns pt 1&2 came out after Justice League War, as did Assault on Arkham, Justice League Gods and Monsters came out less than a year ago, Killing Joke comes out next year (and is the first DC film slated to be rated R) and they are all great (I cannot obviously speak for the Killing Joke, but with Bruce Timm attached and the original animated series voice cast returning, I have high hopes). So why is there so much fucking mediocrity mixed among all of that, why has mediocrity become the new set standard for the DC animated movie experience with an occasional mind blowing film. It's just so annoying because the talent to make good on a great film is there, it's just clearly not being consistently tapped into.
Well there you have it, the 8 reasons I hate the New 52 DCAU. What do you think? Am I being too harsh, do you agree, do you even care? Anyways, comment below. I would love to have your thoughts