Comics are with out a doubt taking over mainstream. This summer we have The Avengers, Spider-Man, and The Dark Knight Rises. Now lets not forget the other sci-fi franchises that are bursting into the screen as well with Prometheus and The Hunger Games but what about the straight to DVD market?
Usually when we hear “straight to DVD” we tend to shutter, I know I do. I mean honestly what has it brought us? Can’t think of anything right? If it wasn’t in a movie theatre, its gonna suck on my TV. But Bruce Timm changed all of that.
Timm is the creator who shaped and defined my childhood and hell I’m gonna say it, even my life when it came to the love of superheroes. Timm gave us perhaps one of the darkest series I’ve ever seen, Batman: The Animated Series. I still have nightmares about The Joker stalking me on the freeway, or what about the episode where Batman didn’t catch the Riddler?? Riddle me that! Timm Also gave us Superman: The Animated Series, Justice League, Justice League Unlimited and Batman Beyond, all phenomenal. What was great about these series was that they shared the same narrative thread; it had the same animation, and the same cast. Something I wish the Marvel movies were good at, I’m still lamenting the passing of Edward Norton from the Avengers, but I digress…When Timm’s series came to an end it was sad, it was the end of an era and my childhood sitting in front of the TV on a sunny day and not having a life. I wouldn’t change a thing.
Then something marvelous happened. Timm started producing animated movies! But I was hesitant. I mean why straight to DVD? Could it be bad? I mean if it was good it would have been in theatres like Batman: Mask of the Phantasm which he also produced. Right? The logic was sound but it was also Timm and I couldn’t stay no. Since that time Timm has delivered really impressive pieces of animation and story telling, some like me, would call it art. Since some of films like Superman: Doomsday, Batman: Gotham Knight and Green Lantern: First Flight, I have greatly looked forward to the straight to DVD DC animations.
This month, DC released Justice League: Doom, a movie I couldn’t wait for. This JLA tale was actually based on the comic by Mark Waid entitled “Tower of Babel”. The premise is brilliant. You know how Batman has a back up plan for the back up plan for the back up plan? Well Batman has created plans to take down each member of the JLA in case they should become out of control. Yeah, the dude sat down and drew plans on how to take down the Man of Steel and crew! But what if those plans feel into the wrong hands? Welcome to Batman’s nightmare. One by one the JLA fall by an unknown enemy and to Batman’s horror they fall by the plans he’s formulated. He’s let his guard down, someone got to him, close to him and exploited and warped what his intentions were. What an emotional blow. While the members are having their own nightmares realized Bruce is buried alive with the corpse of his father. WTF? In the words of a dear friend, “Devastating”.
This is perhaps one of the most dark animated story tellings of our beloved capes that I have ever seen. And of course it would be good when you have the late and great Dwayne McDuffie translating Mark Waid’s comic into film. What also hit home for me was the fact that you had all of the cast from the Justice League animated series to reprise their roles. Tim Daly as Superman, Kevin Conroy as Batman, Susan Eisenberg as Wonder Woman, Carl Lumbly (remember Mantis?) as Martian Manhunter and Michael Rosenbaum (Lex Luthor from Smallville) as the Flash, that kind of blew my mind. Joining the cast is Nathan Fillion (Firefly, Castle, Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along-Blog) as Hal Jordon/Green Lantern and Bumper Robinson as Cyborg. I know it sounds lame, but hearing all those voices again together was amazing, like having those Saturday mornings back.
As mentioned before Comics are indeed taking over. I’m sure we’ll have a Christian Bale as Batman audio album where he’ll read his poetry like William Shatner but then start yelling and swearing at people, then turned into a club mix…wait did that happen? And while we have big movies like the Avengers, don’t leave out the other guys on the smaller screen! Seriously, these movies are great and cause I know you’re dying to know, here are some recommendations:
All Star Superman
Batman: Gotham Knight (it bridges Batman Begins and the Dark Knight together!)
Batman: Under the Red Hood
Green Lantern: First Flight
Hulk vs. Thor & Wolverine
And these two are my personal favorite of favorites:
Justice League: New Frontier
Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths