By Ed Sum (The Vintage Tempest)
When Cartoon Network’s DC Nation is now comprised of Beware the Batman and Go Teen Titans Go, just where will comic fans get their Justice League fix? With Young Justice gone, fans of DC’s animated products do not have much left over to enjoy. This particular universe has a great diversity and great storytelling backing it. But with the new products showing a divergence than convergence, only the direct to video releases, namely Justice League: Flashpoint Paradox will prove that there can be only one.
And Barry Allen is stuck right smack dab in the middle of a coming apocalypse. Finally, some other heroes are getting the center-stage, and The Flash shows that one wrong mistake can mean one fractured time-line. Flashpoint is based on the 2011 comic of the same name, where the speedster awakens in a universe not quite his own.
That is, certain characters once thought dead are alive, like Allen’s mom, but others are just too far gone. In this case, Batman is far more brutal and violent than he ever was and where in the world is Superman? All these questions asked by Allen are answered in quick order in the animated movie, and this film does a very good job in turning a five issue comic book into a 90 min product.
The world Allen finds himself in is like a look in the mirror darkly of every hero’s soul: in a what-if situation of what would happen if events transpired differently for each character. Batman is still Batman, but the point of view is from Thomas Wayne then Bruce, and Superman is considered to be a threat to all of mankind. But acts of kindness can go far in this film, but not everyone, especially the heroes, know it.
The meta-humans, namely Aquaman and Wonder Woman are embroiled in a war that is threatening everyone on Earth. Their conflict is interesting because it has shades of ancient history spelled all over it. Cleopatra was considered to be one of the most powerful women of the Greco-Roman world, and both Caesar and Anthony vied for her in hopes of forging an alliance. In this case, the tragedy is more Shakespearean. Arthur (Aquaman) is caught between affections for both a Princess of the Amazon and the Queen of the Sea, his wife.
This king of the seas comes through as terrifyingly maudlin and overstuffed. The only real shame is that not a lot of back story is explored to further explain the events that led up to their conflict. Maybe more has been said in the comic books, but not every viewer or reviewer has read it. If audiences are expecting more from this subplot, they will be in for a disappointment.
Instead, they have to follow along with Flash attempting to figure out what’s going on. In this reality, Cyborg is America’s greatest hero and Batman is a haggard old soul. There is no Justice League here, which makes the labeling of this movie very curious. While most of the primary characters from the League are given a bit of screen time, their involvement is minuscule.
When Flash is the protagonist, shouldn’t this movie simply be titled The Flash: Flashpoint Paradox instead? To call this film a Justice League film feels more like a misnomer. Other than that detail, the entire film is great. Not many DCAU products gets disturbingly dark and ultra-violent. As a PG-13 film, this movie pushes the envelope of what may be acceptable. Many characters die in not so simple ways. That’s great for older viewers but not so for impressionable youths.
If this is the direction future direct-to-video DC universe products are going, it should come with more than just a MPAA rating. It should be labelled for mature viewers only.
3½ Stars our of 5