On Tuesday, Warner Bros. released Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths, their latest direct-to-DVD animated movie. I’m sure that most of you have noticed we happen to love DC Comics here at IAT and this was a must-buy for all of us. So we trekked out into the cold, bought our multiple copies, and then all headed for Noisy’s house so we could watch it together. I know what you’re thinking, but that’s how we roll.
Spoilers: In this article, we’re discussing a recent DVD release. Now, we won’t spoil the ending, but we might drop a few plot details and we’ll definitely be talking about characters that appeared in the film. Proceed of your own accord…
How was it? Well, in short, if you’re a DC fan, you need to go buy this DVD.
And after you watch it, you’ll want to buy the figures from it! But wait… there aren’t any figures for Crisis on Two Earths. Since 2007, DC has released seven original animated films. I’ll list them here for you: Superman/Doomsday, supported by a line of DC Direct figures. New Frontier which already had several excellent DC Direct figures. Gotham Knight, Wonder Woman, and Green Lantern: First Flight were all given at least one Infinite Hero by Mattel. Public Enemies, which was heavily supported by Mattel with both DCUC and DCIH style figures. And now Crisis on Two Earths which has no action figures. To add insult to injury, I’ve heard some early rumblings that the next movie Under the Red Hood might have an Infinite Hero based on it as well. Simply put, that sucks.
First, let me tell you why the DVD is worthy of your purchase. The movie’s story is based on the well-known tale of an alternate Earth with evil doppelgangers of the Justice League, the Crime Syndicate. The Syndicate uses their powers to control and terrorize their Earth, and the only person that stands up to them is the hero of the tale, Lex Luthor. Seeking aid, Luthor travels to the main DC Universe, gains new allies in the form of the Justice League, and many well-choreographed and hard-hitting battles ensue.
Now, this movie probably could have relied on that simple premise and been a good film. Most of us don’t expect much more from Crime Syndicate stories. But the writer, Dwayne McDuffie, took things a step further. He gave us tantalizing snippets of this fractured world. It’s a roller coaster of eye candy that’s going to have you not only reaching for the pause button on your remote here and there. The Marvel Family are Superwoman’s goons, the evil Martian Manhunter looks like he stepped right out of a John Carter story, and Black Power (Black Lightning) still sports a costume right out of the 70s. Disco doesn’t die on an evil world, see?
But McDuffie also raises the stakes. This isn’t simply a retelling of some old Crime Syndicate story. The writer evokes some overtones from the quintessential DC Crossover, Crisis on Infinite Earths too. Now, we don’t get a giant cosmic battle with the Anti-Monitor, but you won’t miss him with the villainfest going on. There are no less than twenty-three villains getting at least some screen time ranging from an easily subdued Hulk-like Jimmy Olsen to the most dangerous man on any Earth, the apathetic and nihilistic Owlman.
Speaking of that evil Batman, while many of the voice actors did a good job, none impressed as much as James Woods. He did such a perfect rendition of Owlman that I didn’t think twice about his iconic voice echoing from the character’s mouth.
So, yeah, I have to say this is the best animated DC movie yet. I loved New Frontier, but it was essentially a retelling. I loved Wonder Woman and Green Lantern but those origin stories pale in scope to this film. Crisis took its source material and branched out. It explored new premises for these alternate characters. Going in, I wasn’t happy that they used Martian Manhunter’s pre-death costume, but I forgot to notice while I was wrapped up in his subplot with Rose Wilson (Ravager), the very sane First Daughter in this alternative universe. I was happy to see Wonder Woman be an equal and not only holding her own, but to be there for her team mates. I’ve often lamented how I don’t always like the way she’s been written in the comics, but McDuffie nailed it in this movie. Aquaman got in a few good scenes too, though, as always, we go without seeing his double in the other universe. There were lighter elements too. We get to see Luthor naked! That’s always exciting. And there’s clever in-jokes like how the mob setup of the syndicate allowed for the subservient villains to be called “Made Men”. The most prominent made man? Super Captain, the evil duplicate of Captain Marvel. Get it?
Ultimately, Crisis on Two Earths just had a little more creativity behind it then even the best of the previous offerings. And it was certainly infinitely better than the previous film, Public Enemies.
That’s where this being a Most Requested article comes in. All of the releases before this have had action figures associated with it. A DC Direct line. A single Infinite Hero. Something. Now, Crisis on Two Earths does have an Owlman maquette and a tiny plastic statue (it might a have a point of articulation or two, but it’s connected to a stand) of Owlman included with one version of the DVD. Those aren’t action figures. Mattel gave Public Enemies toys even though most of the designs were the same as the standard characters that were already in the line.
In Crisis, we’re introduced to a whole new world of characters. The depth that this toy line could have had was far greater. (If you want to be surprised by which characters you see, skip this list.) In Crisis, we saw the following characters with the regular universe counterpart’s name in parentheses
And that’s not counting some other characters that weren’t shown in the film explicitly. At one point, we’re shown a few screens of the other lesser members of the Syndicate like the one shown to the right here.
When the movie was over, I wanted toys of at least some of these great designs. But I’m denied because neither DC Direct nor Mattel thought ahead to support this movie with product. I literally can’t believe that. It’s a Justice League movie. To echo the words of some folks that don’t have Battle Cat, those two companies “had to know they’d sell like crazy”. And yet, fans of the movie have nothing to go out and buy. It’s particularly sad because the lack of product is starting to make me think that the Owl Man maquette would look real nice in my home…