It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s GOATEE. The DC Comics multiverse a wonderful sandbox where the creative talent in DC are given permission to be revisionists with the foundation myths of their sacred characters to take them in drastically (or ever so slightly) different fates. Bruce Timm and Alan Burnett, the creative forces behind the seminal Batman, Batman Beyond and Justice League animated series, have developed a comic and feature film property that reinvents the holy trinity; Superman, Batman and Wonder-Woman.
Jor El and Lara prepare a space-craft to fly to leave their dying planet of Krypton. They prepare to send their genetic material to gestate on a flight to Earth when General Zod, swaps out Jor El’s seed for his own. The lone survivor of an exploding Krypton is the son of the man largely responsible for its demise. Landing in the borderlands of U.S.A and Mexico, and raised by hardworking migrant parents Hernan Guerra/Superman is distrustful of the government that disenfranchised his family pursuing the ‘American dream’. Superman’s presence draws two other powerful outsiders into an alliance. Dr. Kirk Langstrom, a young scientist and disciple of the brilliant Lex Luthor, inadvertently turns himself into a vampire while experimenting with a cure for his cancer. Feeding on criminals, the Batman, is desperate to cure himself of the affliction that grants him his great dark power. Bekka, Wonder Woman, is a New God, taking refuge on Earth after a ‘red wedding’ style massacre took place during her betrothal to Darkseid’s son Orion. Now on earth, a band apart, a group of scientists begin to die particularly grizzly deaths and all signs point to these Gods and Monsters. They must do whatever they can to clear their names in the eyes of the public and President Amanda Waller.
It’s such an awesome and fresh approach to characters that are unified in their separation from society. One could easily get bogged down in the granular differences and mutations of well know characters in discussion of Gods and Monsters but, that should be yours to discover. Gods and Monsters is refreshingly adult. The largely sanitised cinematic entries feel like you’re watching the Golden Book approved versions of these stories thus far, and Burnett and Timm’s story demands something much more visceral.
Superman isn’t afraid to eviscerate his foes. Life growing up as an immigrant on the U.S/Mex borderlands has given him a pragmatic even callow approach to the value of life. Benjamin Bratt is the perfect choice to voice Hernan/Supes; he’s still got those clues to his Hispanic descent in certain words and turns of phrase, while being able to stamp that firm authority. Bekka/Wonder Woman (voiced by Tamara Taylor) is railing against her predestined fate as a bride and a tool for gain in her galaxy. Now as an intergalactic warrior coming to the Earth is about sanctuary, and exacting a justice that she could not in her last life. There’s no truth telling lasso here but a titanic sword. The genius of the voice casting though is Dexter‘s Michael C. Hall as Batman. The quiet loner scientist, that’s both Frankenstein and monster, is turned to the side of morality and fierce justice by Superman. It’s a quiet contemplative approach to a character that strives to reverse the very dark gifts that make him peer to this Krytonian alien. It’s the darkest nightmarish conception of the character in sometime and it also feels oddly loyal to Bob Kane’s origin workings of the character. Finally, The Incredibles’ Edna Mode would be absolutely thrilled with the lack of capes.
Justice League: Gods and Monsters feels like a bright alternate universe and something that’s not just a fleeting plot device.
Blake Howard – follow Blake on Twitter here: @blakeisbatman and listen to legacy audio reviews on That Movie Show 2UE here or on top-rating film podcast Pod Save Our Screen, available now on iTunes
Directed by: Sam Liu
Written by: Alan Burnett (story/screenplay), story)
Starring (the vocal talents of): Benjamin Bratt, Michael C. Hall, Tamara Taylor