DOOM DeLUISE: So last week, Jim Doom and I watched the newest movie from DC Animation, “Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths.” Big picture, overall, what were your thoughts? Better or worse than previous efforts from DC’s animation department?
JIM DOOM: Big picture, I’d say that I keep hoping for DC to learn from the faults of previous movies, I keep going into these movies waiting for this to be the one I enjoy, and I keep coming away from them hating them for the same reasons.
I feel like we are long past the point of broken-record status on these things, but once again, we’ve got a DC animated movie that thinks you can make a really stupid story mature by adding blood, death and sexual references.
I did feel like the animation was stronger in this one than previous efforts. In other DC animated movies, I kind of felt like they were stuck in the style that began with Batman: the Animated Series and continued on to the Justice League cartoons. I mentioned it as we were watching it, but the animation reminded me a lot of the style of Aeon Flux — much more fluid and lifelike, and less abstracted and simplified. I guess maybe it’s a little counterintuitive to act as if DC is progressing in a way that reminds me of an early ’90s cartoon, but I liked that.
Good animation wasn’t nearly enough to overcome the many many many flaws in this thing though.
DD: Well, y’know Mean Gene, I think you have a point about the animation, though I found it incredibly tiresome that everybody seemed indestructible, including Batman and Owlman. When the physical violence in the movie doesn’t have any sort of lasting implications, it’s just a bunch of punching, kicking, and dust clouds with no real importance.
JD: Yeah, and I think that’s just one of many examples of how these movies are dumbed down far beyond the point of being convincingly mature on any kind of intellectual level. Part of what makes Batman interesting is that he’s just a normal guy. Normal guys don’t have giant stone pillars dropped on them and walk away from it. You take away the normal guy aspect of Batman and he’s just another superhero in a cape.
But that gets at another problem with this movie — absolutely terrible characterization. Superman is a complete prick in this movie, and Batman KILLS TWO PEOPLE. Kills them. Dead. And this is after Superman makes a point to explain that they don’t kill people, and that’s what differentiates them from the bad guys.
Back to what you’re saying regarding the violence though — it is largely ineffective, but there were at least some creative moves. I liked Wonder Woman’s elbow drop. But if they put half the thought into characters and plot that they put into fight choreography, I think this would’ve been a much better movie.
DD: The good guy Justice League from Earth-3 kills people, too.
JD: I am a little more forgiving of a good guy from a parallel earth killing someone, because good guys arguably have different moral codes on different realities, and their characters aren’t as well-defined as the Justice League heroes are. But this response presumes there was any level of nuance or deep thought in the creation of this movie, and that is unfair. This was way too stupid of a story to suggest that much thinking.
And it’s fascinating to see how Dwayne McDuffie relies on the “Surprise, we were standing right there!” plot device no matter which medium he’s writing for.
DD: In all the other DC animated movies they’ve made so far, they’ve had this big giant threat to go up against and it was always implied that the main hero or heroes of the stories were the only superheroes on Earth to help solve the problem, right?
Well, in this, the entire threat is sort of ridiculous, since they make it clear that there are infinite earths with similar characters. So, why the hell wouldn’t Luthor of Earth-3 just hop all over the place and recruit as many Justice Leagues as possible?
JD: Good point. At least in the original Crisis on “Two” Earths, they didn’t realize there were more than just one alternate earth — they discovered more as time went on. But you’re right, they make it very clear that they’re already aware of an infinite number of possibilities.
By the “original,” I’m referring to the comics when they discover Earth-2. Honestly, until I looked at the cover of the DVD, I just assumed this was going to be a movie about that.
But you raise another point — Owl Man’s really really stupid motivation as the main threat.
DD: What good is a bomb unless you detonate it?
JD: It’d be one thing to have a character say a stupid thing like that. It’s quite another when you have a character say a stupid thing like that, and then demonstrate numerous ways in which a bomb is very useful without being detonated.
So yet again we have an example of the writers, story editors, and whoever else is involved just shutting their brains off when it comes to crafting the plot. Yet they appear to have some kind of mandate on how much blood needs to appear, to the point where people shed blood so easily that it becomes extremely funny.
DD: What was it you said when the President got slapped and started gushing? “Maybe he just took a sip of Capri Sun before getting slapped”
JD: Yeah. I can’t come up with any other logical justification for why that much red liquid would squirt out of his mouth as a result of a slap.
DD: See, here’s my thoughts on this movie as well as the entire DC Animated Universe:
The problem isn’t in the animation department. They’re steadily getting better and better with their animation.
It isn’t with their fight choreography. That’s been solid pretty much since the start, and it’s even improving.
The problem isn’t with the voice acting, either. See, they have all the elements in place to make a great movie. Acting, direction, animation, etc. It’s all firmly in place.
The problem is and always has been completely hackneyed writing.
JD: And you realize how ridiculous this is — the weakest links are the stories, yet that’s what the source material is — decades and decades of stories that have hooked generations of readers. But that’s what they are making a disaster of.
How absurd is that?
They’re doing everything well except for what they have about 50 years experience of doing well.
One thing the movie actually did a great job of was making the Flash look like a total loser.
And I can’t get over what a jerk Superman was and the fact that Batman is a killer. Wonder Woman was an inexplicable jerk at times but at least she’s kind of got that “poorly adapted outsider” thing going on, which also kind of explains why she killed people.
DD: I liked that scene where they’re like, “We need the fastest man alive for this job!” and Flash is all, “I’m your guy!” and Batman just responds by saying, “Sorry, not fast enough.”
JD: Yes, the way in which people were instant experts on technology that was completely new to all of humanity three seconds earlier was pretty funny.
I feel like you just need to read that Dwayne McDuffie Justice League #13 issue to get a sense of the level of writing in this movie. Imagine the dumbest comic book of 2006 and then hit it over the head with a club.
If I had kids, I wouldn’t let them watch this movie. They’d be like “Why do you read comic books, you tool?”
DD: By the way, before I forget to say it, after seeing the scene where Martian Manhunter mind-bonds with the President’s daughter (as a substitute for kissing), I gotta say that I would hate to see how Martians have sex.
It would probably be footage of A-Bombs going off or something.
JD: I’m surprised they didn’t address it.
And I’d say the failure seems to be driven by this absurd lust for a PG-13 rating. At the very least, Rose could be like “Can ALL of your body change shape and size?” That’d hardly be more risque than stuff that Super Woman was saying.
DD: Speaking of the PG-13 rating, it raises an important question: What audience is this movie playing for?
JD: That’s the root of their problem. I don’t think they have any idea.
Either that, or their audience is comic book nerds who will buy and defend anything regardless of its quality. And so it really doesn’t matter how well they do it.
DD: Or buy and criticize.