Continuing and ending the first part, here are my TOP 10 favorite DC Universe Animated Original Movies.
#10. JUSTICE LEAGUE THE NEW FRONTIER
The first Justice League film, was an adaptation of the famous comic with the same name, and it turns out a great movie. With very simplistic designs and great animation, it’s set in the post-war 50s, and it focuses mainly on Martian Manhunter’s arrival on Earth and how he tries to blend in, passing as a detective but it also focuses more on Hal Jordan’s journey to becoming Green Lantern. While all this happens, there’s something called The Centre that is possessing and obsessing villains and regular people all over the world. The suspense of trying to found out what The Centre is and why it’s affecting everyone is what makes this movie great, but sadly, it can’t live up to it’s hype, and a giant island that produces dinosaurs from within isn’t exactly what I was expecting. What I can figure out is that it’s a movie about the Justice League, focusing on the heroes and how they reunite to work together, so the villain isn’t really that much important to the plot, cause they just need a threat to unite, but still, something more interesting would have made this movie even better. The opening scene is excellent, if you don’t get chills after watching a suicide in a first-person point of view… then your emotions are as dead as Mr. Freeze’s! Overall, a great movie with an excellent build up that dissapoints in the end. 7.5 out of 10.
#9. SUPERMAN/BATMAN: PUBLIC ENEMIES
This movie was a lot of fun. A very simple plot, Luthor is the president so he declares Superman a public enemy and puts a billion dollar bounty on him. What follows is an hour of both heroes and villains alike trying to take Superman and Batman down, some wanting the billion dollars, some working for Luthor’s government. There’s not much more to it, it’s a simple movie, fast forward with a lot of action, great animation and featuring the talents of the classic voices of the DC Animated Universe… that makes it worth watching alone. Superman and Batman interacting is great, you can really tell they’re close friends and trust each other with their lives. People may complain about the muscled-up look most of the characters have in the movie, but it didn’t really bothered me, after all, if you are a superhero, you have to be in the best shape possible! What could have made this movie better, and it’s just a detail, but Luthor declares a public enemy to Superman alone, and Batman just tags along with him, so it takes the importance of the movie a little more towards Superman. I would have liked it more if Batman had been also thrown in as an accomplice or something like that, so they are all after him as much as they are after Superman. So basically, it’s a great, fun movie that doesn’t really do anything wrong, but doesn’t impress either. 7.5 out of 10.
#8. JUSTICE LEAGUE: DOOM
Very similar in spirit to Public Enemies, it has a simple plot: Vandal Savage provides villains of the Justice League with contingency plans made by Batman to kill the other members of the heroes. It would have worked much better as a twist if this hadn’t been revealed early on in the film description! That kinda ruined the moment, because it’s a great scene in the film, when Batman starts realizing that someone had used his contingency plans, so he rushes to help everybody. While I’ve already stated my dislike of Cyborg, he wasn’t bad in this film actually, he didn’t replace anybody, he was just the new guy helping out with cool tech, so I liked his character here, but you could tell, they were trying to slowly squeeze him into the Justice League movies as he apparently is getting very popular in the comics, like in the New 52… I could think of any other reason why replace great characters with Cyborg and Shazam into the league. But I won’t get into that again. The great voices return (Kevin Conroy, Tim Daly, etc), so that alone makes it worth watching. Vandal Savage is a very interesting villain, so immortal as he is, it was obvious that the way he was going to loose would be kind of a cheat, that’s the only bad thing about the movie. A very fun, action packed movie, with great voice actors. 7,5 out of 10.
#7. BATMAN YEAR ONE
An adaptation of one of Batman’s most famous stories, being as great as it is by itself, kinda disappointed me. Still, it’s good enough to earn the #7 spot. Being one of the few (or maybe the only one) stories that I had actually read a bunch of times before the release of the movie, I was really excited. So when the movie is an extremely faithful adaptation, following the story page by page, dialogue by dialogue, and the comic you’re adapting, it’s one of the most acclaimed comics of all time, how can you go wrong? Well, for me, it lacked a little bit of soul, of heart. It felt sometimes like if they were doing it in automatic mode. Mainly this could be due to Ben McKenzie’s dull performance of Batman, in what was probably my least favorite Batman voice. He felt bored, dull, not interested at all. It didn’t feel like it was really Batman. Curiously enough, he’s going to play James Gordon in the upcoming series Gotham. Talking about Gordon, he steals the show here. Bryan Cranston pulls a great, very human Gordon and makes the story focus on him. While I loved the comic, when I was reading it and imagining it as a movie (I do that with every comic I read) I thought that it might not work very well as a movie. Because it doesn’t feel like one movie, but more like events that go through the year… and that’s kinda what it is supposed to be, so it’s just a weird feel that the film gives. I also think the climax scene was very anti-Batman, he isn’t even in his suit, it’s clear daylight… that was one of my main thoughts while reading the comic and thinking about an animated movie. Still, it is an awesome story, with great action, awesome scenes, moments, character designs and animation, and it’s as good as a Year One adaptation could be. 8 out of 10.
#6. SUPERMAN VS THE ELITE
I really liked this movie. While I think most people didn’t, I really enjoyed it. Most people hated Superman’s design, but well, I didn’t love it, but I didn’t have a problem with it either, I just loved the simple animation look this movie has. But most importantly, what makes this movie so good is the moral debate that is featured. Should criminals be killed or not? By the time I watched this movie, the same topic was in the air were I lived, since most people grew tired of not feeling safe and whenever they’d catch a robber, they’d beat him up, going to such extremes that in 1 case, the robber died. So it’s a topic very present in the actual world, and it was very well represented through the film. While the villains weren’t that interesting, and the dragon-lady sexual innuendoes were a bit annoying, they served their purpose, to give the people a definitive answer to crime. And that is so interesting! The villain here is not trying to kill everyone or conquer the universe, he’s putting an end to crime. How about that! Sadly, they had to turn The Elite into a lame villain because they were actually proving a point, so they became evil because Superman punched Manchester Black. It was kind of a bad escape to have an evil villain and a good Superman, but it ended up helping to make a great scene with an ‘evil’ Superman. Great film. 8.5 out of 10.
#5. GREEN LANTERN: EMERALD KNIGHTS
This is a very underrated movie. I didn’t have much knowledge about the Green Lantern Corps, except for the most famous characters (Kilowog, etc) so maybe that helped the fact that I loved learning about characters that were new for me, and the stories itself are all of them very good, some better than others. The ones I liked the most were ‘The first lantern’, ‘Kilowog’ and specially ‘Mogo Doesn’t Socialize’. Since I had never heard of Mogo, I was just as desperate as Bolphunga to find out where the heck was Mogo hiding, and the twist just blew my mind! I loved it, specially because it had a very different feel to the other segments, the backgrounds of the Mogo planet seemed different, and it reminded me of the movie ‘Heavy Metal’. The Abin Sur segment was great too, dealing with prophecies and destiny, and the ‘Laira’ segment was probably the one I didn’t really cared for, but it wasn’t bad either. The final battle with Krona was just a simple action scene to end the movie and give the film a sense of unity, but it’s nothing special as the segments are what shine here. I was pleasantly surprised with this one, and it remains one of my favorites. 8.5 out of 10.
#4. BATMAN: UNDER THE RED HOOD
While I think this is an excellent movie, I think it is a little overrated. It’s by all means a Batman movie, Gotham City looks spectacular, the characters and locations chosen for the movie are perfect, voice actors, animation, character designs, it all works. Black Mask was a personal favorite character of mine, he is great in the movie, and is the perfect example of a good use of the PG 13 rating, it doesn’t feel forced just because he can curse he curses, no, it feels natural to his character, that’s the mistake some movies on this line are doing, they do stuff just because they have PG-13 rating (Harley and Deadshot sex scene? What purpose was that for? How did that improved the film?) instead of doing stuff that is natural to the characters and the story and that is PG-13 material, this movie and The New Frontier are good examples of this. I hope you understand what I’m trying to say. The voice actors were overall great, Bruce Greenwood does an excellent Batman that feels natural and right from the start. He was so good that they called him to play Batman on Young Justice. While John DiMaggio did a good Joker, I can’t help to feel like it’s Bender talking, so I didn’t like it that much. The other thing I didn’t like was how all the movie was played out like a mystery movie of finding out who is under the red hood, when it’s made pretty much obvious since the opening scene and all other references made during the movie. They didn’t even tried to distract us with something else, like they did with Andrea’s father in Mask Of The Phantasm and Jordan Pryce in Return of The Joker. So if it was obvious from the beggining, I’m not sure I would have played this one as a mystery, because, while Bruce gets the shock of his life when Jason’s and Red Hood’s blood samples match, I doubt anyone else felt that way watching the movie. I also didn’t like the ending, it left me hanging there thinking, ‘so what happened?’. Still, it’s a classic Batman movie, it’s all a Batman movie should be. 9 out of 10.
#3. JUSTICE LEAGUE: CRISIS ON TWO EARTHS
This was as close as we ever got to see the DC Animated Universe return. It was originally going to be a return to it, filling the gaps between Justice League and Justice League Unlimited, and it was going to be called ‘Justice League: Worlds Collide’. Ultimately, that idea was turned down, yet the movie saw the light in a way that removed any links to the original series, for example, having Hal Jordan as Green Lantern instead of John Stewart. Still, if you use your imagination, it does work as a tie in to JLU, having the original members accepting to add new members, the invisible jet, etc. Alternate universes and stories are always fun, and this movie was no exception. Featuring a rouge Justice League called the Crime Syndicate and a heroic Lex Luthor, that world and ours collide for a very interesting movie. The amount of cameos is so high that you have to pause the movie if you want to catch them all, but the best ones are probably Harley Quinn re imagined as The Jester’s monkey pet, and Deathstroke as the president of the United States. While mid-way through the movie it has been just a fun adventure with not really any superb moments, there comes James Woods and his chilling performance as Owlman. He completly steals the show by tricking the Crime Syndicate into doing his own agenda, which is a very dark one: destroy all existence. The logic behind this action is actually very interesting, with the logic that in every decision, 2 universes are created for each one of them, so by destroying the original Earth (parallel Earths are created from this one), all reality will follow. The climatic Batman vs Owlman fight is amazing, a little dark maybe that because of Batman, 2 people died, that was very dark! It’s an excellent movie and one of DC’s very finest. 9.5 out of 10.
#2. JUSTICE LEAGUE: THE FLASHPOINT PARADOX
Well, this one was as dark as it can get. Probably an attempt to make a solo Flash movie, DC seems to be overly cautious when dealing characters that are not Batman or Superman. So they label it as a Justice League film, but with a focus on one of the members. A similar thing will be done on the next movie to be released, ‘Throne Of Atlantis’, which will focus on Aquaman. So this film again is about an alternate universe, but this one is even worse than the Crime Syndicate one. The world is about to be destroyed because of a war between the Amazons and the Atlanteans, Batman is now Thomas Wayne, and he’s much more violent than the Batman we all know. All this because Flash went back in time to save his mother from murder. Actually, we weren’t supposed to know that before watching the film. But again, the movie description included that detail, so we all knew that before watching the film, so it’s another twist ruined, because you watch the movie and Flash just assumes it was Zoom who changed all reality, and he finally realizes it’s his own fault for going back in time to save his mother, in what is supposed to be an epic reveal in the movie… we all knew it before even the film started. So, not the movie’s fault, but the people who gave it away’s fault. Besides that detail, this movie is epic, the twists on the characters are great, I specially liked the Superman twist, it was dark, scary and emotional. Batman was really badass and his relationship with Barry was great. Again, the amount of cameos is huge and you have to keep an eye for them: Lex Luthor, Deathstroke, Abin Sur, Aqualad, Black Manta, Captain Atom, Etrigan, and the list goes on and on. Cyborg was handled well for the movie and I think he was a nice addition to the movie, it worked here. Pretty much an epic movie with epic characters and moments, very dark, very violent but not for the sake of it, it just had to be that way, and it works perfectly. 9,5 out of 10.
#1. BATMAN: THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS
I don’t think it’s a surprise that this one’s #1. Adapting the famous comic book, this one has an edge over the rest of them that makes the story more epic: It’s done in 2 parts, so you get a 150 minute movie instead of a 75 minute movie. This worked extremely well, because it was not rushed, they took every moment of the comic and adapted it ‘nice and easy’ I’d say, without having to worry that much about running time. If the movie would be just one 75 minute movie, it would probably suffer a lot of cuts, the Two-Face subplot would be cut, probably Batman would have fought the mutant leader just once…. it wouldn’t have worked. Luckily, I can’t praise high enough the decision to make this a 2 part movie. Part 1 takes it’s time to reintroduce Batman, his first fight against the mutant leader and in the climax, the final fight and win, with an awesome cliffhanger teasing the Joker. Part 2 couldn’t come any sooner. Part 2 was even better, because of course, it’s the climatic end to an actual single story, so it’s only natural Part 2 would be more intense. One of the best scenes in animation takes place in the Batman Vs Joker ultimate fight. In one of the darkest moments, and with a lot of suspense, The Joker murders countless people and it’s one of the most chilling moments of the movie, with Batman being so pissed that he attemps to kill him. With now Gordon retired, Ellen Yindel is the Commissioner and she doesn’t accept Batman’s ways. So we have another element that it’s now almost a classic on Batman movies: Batman being chased by the police. One of the best moments is when Yindel yells at Batman ‘Stop, you son of a b—’ and he just throws a punch at her, not really trying to actually hurt her, but in a ‘I’m sick of you, stop bothering me’ kind of way. Peter Weller is an excellent old time Batman, I loved his performance, this movie was 100% accurate with castings and everyone did a stellar job. David Selby was a perfect Gordon, Ariel Winter did a fantastic take on Carrie Kelly/Robin, Michael Emerson maybe sounded a little weird for me at first as The Joker, but you’re into Part 2 five minutes and it just blows you away how chilling his performance is. I also specially loved Michael Jackson as Alfred, one of the best since Efrem Zimbalist Jr. Mark Valley also did a great job as Superman. Superman. The climax of the movie is one of the most famous comic book moments of all time, Batman Vs. Superman. In an epic battle that divides fans all around the world, Batman had all the help he could get in order to fight Superman, which he could beat once and for all in another epic moment. Watching this movie (or reading the comic , of course) one realizes how much this influenced The Dark Knight Rises, and for the best. I think I don’t need to list any more reasons why this movie is excellent and is up there with Mask of The Phantasm and Return of The Joker in the top batman animated movies. Just go and watch it, if you haven’t, you’re missing out on something huge. 10 out of 10.