With Justice League Dark: Apokolips War ends the “DC Animated Movieverse” that was . It ends just as it began in Justice League: the Flashpoint Paradox (2011) ironically. An unfulfilling violent end, to an unfulfilling movie verse where the creators of it took several DC stories and stuck them all in a blinder with the movie being the result. Such is the case with the final film which adapts bits from Future’s End, Darkseid War, and Final Crisis.
For those looking for anything good from what the past films teased, you will find none of that here. In fact, one can say this movie is now former DC executive Dan DiDio’s greatest wish. Heroes get no happy endings, winning feels like losing, many Teen Titans are horribly killed, and something bad happens to Nightwing. Literally all the checks that Dan DiDio loves are all in this movie. Well, save for the early horrific death of Hal Jordan (I guess they didn’t have the money to get Nathan Fillion to reprise his role) and Barbara Gordon.
The so called plot begins with Superman blindly thinking all of Earth’s heroes are prepared for a war against Apokolips, when the last time this plot was touched, Reign of the Supermen (2019) showed that Earth would so be screwed against said forces. So of course, the Earth heroes pay for their hubris, quite graphically.
Really, that is what you have to question about this movie. Why did it go for this graphic nature? Sure it was something good to see in 2018’s Death of Superman (which the violence was implied and shown off screen for the most part). It then made what was to come all the more shocking. Here characters are shown graphically killed for the sake of shock. Really, after it happens the thirtieth time. It doesn’t get shocking it becomes sad (in not the good way of tragedy). In fact, there was a point when one character meets their “end”. I couldn’t help but bust out laughing. When you’re laughing instead of feeling “OH MY GOD! THAT JUST HAPPENED!” You’re kind of failing hard…
As for the film’s heavy Darkseid (Tony Todd), the character kind feels muted. He’s a conqueror of the universe who feels slighted he never got it with the first try (2014’s Justice League: War) or second (Reign of the Supermen). BUT THIS IS THE ONE THAT WORKS– and somehow it feels utterly empty. Why? Because the universe never gave Darkseid any real motives. He’s just doing this shit for because, “Hey its Darkseid people should know what he’s about by now.” Or better yet, why we never get to see any of his minions to explain plot holes. Like, there’s a reason why Jack Kirby created Dessaad to explain these things. Yet these films never feel bothered to introduce these wonderful minions of Darkseid or perish the idea for actual motives beyond a big fight? Instead– like the movie itself, Darkseid just feels empty. Then again, I digress most of the films in this universe feel empty so maybe that’s the franchise’s ultimate theme: none.
In fact, if you are fans of Raven, Damian Wayne, and John Constantine (Matt Ryan) from throughout these films that might be your only reason to watch this. It gives these three characters some proper closure (UNLIKE OTHERS).
Then again, Constantine alone is the film’s only saving grace I will give it. Ryan’s vocal performance alone, is the only reason the film is watchable from beginning to end as his Constantine drunkenly wobbles around screen trying to fix Superman and the Justice League’s glorified mess as best he can. Pity the performance is hampered by this film’s lack of logic.
Take for example the resolution to Raven’s ongoing subplot. It make’s little to no sense when you start to think about it. The writers or filmmakers decided to forgo the plot they established throughout the film to attempt a “fan pleasing” moments, that don’t feel at all pleasing. You just have more questions and can only be grateful the film is ending at the very least. Likewise, you just have to question Damian Wayne’s acceptance into being the new Demon Head– with his minions being nothing more than early fodder.
For anyone who want to see heroes introduced in this universe thinking they matter (Batwoman, Batwing, Superboy, Steel, Donna Troy, Batgirl, Lady Shiva, and oh hey Wallace West Kid Flash– it’s good you finally make your animated debut in this movie– to die horribly). Nope your just gonna die graphically and with no dignity in this movie. Even if another character (who is human) can prance around in the hail of wild gunfire (some close range mind you) without taking single scratch. Not only that characters who are supposed to be dead, somehow get better– to die in this movie (Black Manta I’m looking at you).
I remember the biggest critic I had of this universe was really only two characters I truly enjoyed ever showed up in it. I completely checked out in any further care for this film after Lady Shiva bowed out midway into the movie. The character much like many making no impact or serving any importance ever in the entire film franchise, save for the utter mockery of never wearing pants for the two films she was in. So these sorts of films are supposed to be an attempt to have a character attain a new fan. You know show off why fan’s like this character. She’s one of the deadliest fighters on Earth, and– not once ever in the film does she get to showcase that fact. Instead just to get a joke across of how bored Etrigan the demon is (who really is a representation of the casual viewer).
Then again maybe that’s the exact point as the movie and universe get the ironic end it truly deserves: it really never mattered at all. Aka the Dan DiDio quota. Even gone, the shadow of Dan DiDio’s and his polices still manage to suck the ever loving fun out of DC media. Hopefully, the new animated era that is debuting next is so much superior to this one. Remember when DC animated movies used to be amazing? Used to be… How the mighty have truly fallen…
Because damn this was a wasteful spite-filled end. It was like DC’s take on Marvel’s Ultimatum. And– if you wanted a take on that… This is the film for you. If not, yeah you’ll end up questioning why you are continuing to watch this dumpster fire of a movie. Other than to see how truly bad it gets. And it gets really.. really bad.
In the era of Disney ending their first generation of Marvel heroes with Avengers: Endgame (2019), it’s only fitting that DC and Warner Bros. trips and falls flat on their face with this attempt of an animated movieverse, and failing at a satisfying conclusion as the whole universe was a failure to begin with. Then again, starting at Flashpoint and keeping all the awful points of the New 52 as your story bible?
Yeah…. This movieverse really had no chance at all. It’s only fitting that this film flounders as well just as ironically it began. Hopefully someone better in charge handles these films with complete respect to the characters. Cause this animated film franchise sure as hell did not!
If you want to watch a proper finale, just go watch Avengers: Endgame. If you’re looking for PAIN and suffering? This is the film for you!!
1 out of 5