The Animated Injustice Movie Is A Fantastic Telling Of DC Comics’ ‘Worst’ Story
Most people first encountered DC Comics’ Injustice, a 1-on-1 fighting game featuring new versions of iconic heroes. Shortly after the game, which had a very limited narrative, DC naturally produced an Injustice comic series. This year, they gave the Injustice story the animated movie treatment. As per usual from DC’s animation side, the movie is a faithful and moving adaptation. The problem is that the Injustice story is rough if you love any of these characters. Batman and Superman are mostly allies, but their confrontations are always epic. Yet, in this version of the tale, the cost of this squabbling between gods and men is incredibly high.
If you enjoy any version of Injustice, you should like this animated movie. It hits all the important beats, and while not as over-the-top as the game, the fights deliver. If you want a panel-by-panel adaptation of the comics’ or game’s entire story, this is not that. It’s a tight retelling that’s a watch for die-hards and a great entry point for those who don’t know what Injustice is about. The cast features talent like Anson Mount (Batman), Gillian Jacobs (a pitch-perfect Harley Quinn), and Kevin Pollak (double-duty as the Joker and Pa Kent). Even if they eventually decide to do this in live-action, this feels like the superior version of this story. But this story stinks and I don’t like the way it makes me feel. Let’s talk about it.
Spoilers for the Injustice game, animated movie, and comic series to follow.
The Animated Injustice Movie Hurts More Because the Heroes Look More Familiar
Image via Warner Bros.
One cool thing about both the game and the comic series is that all of our favorite DC characters (save for Plastic Man) have entirely different looks. So, there’s already an element of distance. This series takes the inciting incident of the classic 1990s Elseworlds story Kingdom Come but increases the casualty count by several orders of magnitude. Bored with Batman, Joker heads to Metropolis and facilitates the death of Lois Lane. Using Scarecrow’s fear gas, he tricks Superman into killing Lois Lane, who he just discovered was pregnant with his child. Also, the Flash gets taken out, too. To make matters worse, once Lois dies, a dead-man’s switch is tripped on a nuclear bomb. Metropolis and its 11 million citizens are wiped out. Mad with grief, Superman kills the Joker with a punch. From there, the story asks, “What if Superman became Peacemaker?”
Again, this story shares a lot of DNA with Kingdom Come, from Superman running a super-prison to Wonder Woman being his closest ally. Yet, things just play out so much more tragically. When I say that this is DC’s “worst” story, I mean in “this is the darkest timeline” way. The Flash is beheaded in the opening, and then Metropolis is destroyed. The Justice League breaks up. They start taking sides, with Damien Wayne’s Robin and Dick Grayson’s Nightwing at odds. In a moment of anger, Damien accidentally kills Dick. It’s brutal in any version of the story. Yet, beware when at this part in the Injustice animated movie, you might find yourself a grown adult tearing up at cartoon with cursing.
Bloody, High Body Count, but at Least this Version of Injustice Ends
Image via Warner Bros.
Where the comic suffers, unfortunately, is that in order to keep the serial story going, things just have to keep getting worse. This movie, however, is still fun despite all of the tragedy. Oliver Hudson’s Plastic Man and Reid Scott’s Green Arrow delight every time they are on screen. Harley is fun, though her transformation to Hero Harley isn’t given as much space as in the comics. It is, by its very nature, an incomplete story in terms of the expansive scope of other iterations of the Injustice universe. I mean, for Orko’s sake, in the comics they teamed up with He-Man of all people. Possibly like those storytellers, I lost the plot around there. And as interesting as this story is, I have little desire to pick it up again. I’ll read the final-ever issue. Maybe. The animated movie might be my favorite version of Injustice because it’s a much tighter, more linear storyline than the games or comics.
In fact, I strongly suspect more films in the Injustice series will be coming. There is something very appealing about seeing one of the worst timelines for these characters we all enjoy so much. So, if that’s your bag, these films (or the games and comics) are for you. But for fans like me—who only really like to dabble in the malaise—the animated Injustice movie delivers a quick hit of that sweet, sweet tragedy. And, you can go rewatch your favorite animated Superman afterwards as a palliative.
Even if this is the only Injustice story that gets adapted, it continues the streak of the DC animated features division delivering solid adaptations of comics storylines. The shared-continuity universe that ended with Justice League Dark: Apokolips War did the New 52 better than the comics, in my opinion. Whether you’ve enjoyed Warner Bros. DC movie output over the past decade or not, there is no denying that these animated films deliver fun comic stories for teenage-and-older audiences.
The Injustice Animated Movie is currently available from your preferred movie provider.
What do you think? Do you like the animated take on the Injustice story? Where do you think they got it right or got it wrong? Share your thoughts, reactions, and hopes for the future of this universe in the comments below.
Featured image via Warner Bros.
Joshua M. Patton is a father, veteran, and writer living in Pittsburgh, PA. The first books he read on his own were comics, and he's loved the medium ever since. He is the greatest star-pilot in the galaxy, a cunning warrior, and a good friend. His book of superhero short stories, Tales of Adventure & Fantasy: Book One is available as an ebook or paperback from Amazon.