Justice League: War – Some Observations
I finally got a chance to check out Justice League: War on DVD, setting back my watching of Game of Thrones Season 3 a little bit. I have to say I did like it, though not as much as some of the previous DC Animated movies I’ve seen. It is still far and away much better than a lot of the Marvel animated projects that have come down the pike.
But, there were a few things in this movie that bugged me. I know that there are always some changes when things get adapted, and I am willing to accept that… to an extent. Some of what changed here seemed… well, I’ll explain.
There never seemed to be any love for Aquaman. At least, that was true up until the New 52 started and Aquaman all of a sudden became super cool (thanks to writer Geoff Johns). In spite of being a part of the Justice League story that this animated DVD draws from, Aquaman is nowhere to be found in this movie. He is completely omitted… well, kind of. A credit scene alludes to the next Justice League adventure involving the Atlanteans. But, even there, it is Ocean Master and not Aquaman that appears.
As Aquaman is removed from the story, Shazam is added. Shazam seems to add in a whole bunch of issues for me. First, Shazam is, more or less, another version of Superman. Even with the power tweak in this movie, he is more or less another Superman, something that the movie already had with, well, Superman.
Secondly, I had a problem with the name. In the movie, he goes by the name Shazam, as has many comics that have featured him since the 1960s. This is due to “captain Marvel” being created as a title by Marvel Comics. Even in the comics, he still went by Captain Marvel, even if the book was titled Power of Shazam, Trials of Shazam, or simply Shazam! In this movie, he is referred to as Shazam, which is, as we all know, the word Billy Batson speaks to change into Captain Marvel. Which means there should be no way for Shazam to tell everyone he is Shazam without changing back to Billy Batson… which he does in the movie. This is also a problem because in the movie, he does say Shazam and turns back into Billy Batson.
Lastly, it felt like Shazam was included because he is a kid, which would give children out someone to identify with. Sadly, in this case, it really does not work (just like it did not work to have the extended Tony Stark works with a kid scenes in Iron Man 3).
The Pantheon Changed
Comics are loaded with symbolism. I mean, have you not looked at the Fantastic Four and realized they represent the four classical elements of alchemy.
Also symbolic is the Justice League. Though, they symbolize not elements, but the Greco-Roman Pantheon of Gods. This is really nothing new. Many versions of the Justice League have been referred to this way, especially when membership includes the DC heavy hitters. Even in this movie, Wonder Woman refers to the line up as Greek Gods.
In almost every interpretation, the DC trinity (Superman, Wonder Woman, and Batman) are alluded to being the equivalents of Zeus, Hera, and Pluto. Well, except in this DVD. Here, Shazam assumes the Zeus role (probably because of the lightning based powers), and Superman becomes something else. However, throughout the movie, Shazam just does not act like he is a Zeus analog, but just a little kid in a grown up body. Let’s not even mention that the Pantheon is missing its Poseidon.
Flawed, But Still Good
Still, in spite of the flaws, Justice League: War was still pretty good. It succeeded in bringing to life many of the scenes that made the original comics entertaining. And, I don’t think I have ever seen Darkseid portrayed as menacing as he is in this movie.