Justice League Dark: Apokolips War
It seems like we’ve been in the era of this interconnected for a good long while. It was kicked off with the events in the Flashpoint Paradox back in 2013 but really started with Justice League War in 2014 with the biggest connective tissues being Jason O’Mara as the voice of Batman and a similar visual style in the animation. The DC Animated Movies have also crossed the line from PG-13 to R several times and this is one of the bleakest and most violent animated movies in quite a while yet there’s still enough humor to keep things entertaining without completely going off the rails. It also brings together several of the spin-off-yet-still-connected movies like the Teen Titans, Suicide Squad, and Constantine that feels like it’s following a loose parallel to Avengers: Endgame without feeling derivative. Like always, this was fun and it really builds on everything that came before it to make a fitting end to this little corner of the DC Animated Universe. And as this is a recent release, I won’t be shying away from story details so this is your spoiler warning.
This is one of the bleakest DC Animated movies to date, especially because this isn’t an alternative timeline like the one featured in Flashpoint Paradox. This is the current timeline based on the New 52 and after two failed Darkseid attacks, Superman decides to take the fight to Apokolips with disastrous results. We don’t see the initial attack right away, only the aftermath where Earth has been taken over by Parademons mixed with Doomsday. Darkseid didn’t exactly kill the entire Justice League, a few of them escaped and he had plans for a few others. Superman was returned to Earth with basically a kryptonite tattoo to make him powerless, and he’s travelling with Raven who’s exhausted with her mental battle with her demon god father Trigon trapped in a gem in her forehead. They meet up with John Constantine who is basically doing a Leaving Las Vegas after running away from the battle. Meanwhile Batman has been mind controlled yet again, this time by Darkseid to basically be his master strategist. Throughout the movie, we revisit the Apokolips battle where we are shown the violent demise of several of the Justice League. Starfire gets ripped in half, Wonder Woman gets her arm ripped off, and there’s several more along those lines.
Despite all the bleakness, it is juxtaposed with some really intense moments of humor. Alongside Constantine is the demon Etrigan who no longer rhymes and spends most of his time sulking with a drink in his hand until he casually burns a parademon to a crisp with his fire breath. The ragtag group of defeated heroes eventually teams up with the Suicide Squad mostly from the Hell to Pay movie including King Shark who only says “King Shark is a Shark” but gets the best joke in the entire movie when he says to Captain Boomerang during a hopeless battle that it was an honor to fight beside him, and Boomerang is completely dumbfounded that King Shark is actually able to speak normally. Harley Quinn also gets a few entertaining moments throughout the movie.
One of the best things about this is how much it feels like a culmination of the various movies that came before it. Superman references the two previous Darkseid invasions from Justice League War and the Return of the Supermen which is also where Lex Luthor became a member of the Justice League. Justice League vs Teen Titans and the Judas Contract is where we get the backstory of Damien Wayne and Raven as well as the whole Trigon part of the plot. We have the Justice League Dark which introduced Swamp Thing and the Suicide Squad movie that showed several of the villains reintroduced here. The only slight letdown is that the audience is very likely to figure out that the correct solution is to let Trigon fight Darkseid long before the characters figure it out.
As with all the previous movies in this interconnected Animated universe, this film is fun to watch with good animation and an interesting story. The voice cast is great with the majority of the cast returning from the previous movies, especially the always great Matt Ryan as Constantine who has really taken ownership of that role in both live action as well as animation. The animated violence is extremely brutal but it completely fits with the tone of the overall movie. There is enough gore to hit home the severity of the situation without focusing on it too much like its a horror movie.
It’s a bit of a shame that this is the end of this interconnected storyline as it has been a nice change of pace to see these different stories connected to each other rather than having every single movie be a stand alone story. It would be an interesting experiment if someone took all these movies and intercut them into a TV series. There have still been one-off movies scattered about with varying qualities like the Killing Joke, Batman and Harley Quinn, and Gotham by Gaslight. What hopefully happens is that this is followed by a new interconnected continuity series after the referenced second Flashpoint. I know I’m sad to see this end, but I’m still looking forward to see what DC brings us next. Until next time this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.