Aww yeah!! Even though the live-action DC movies have had a pretty checkered history, you can always count on the animated films to pull off quality characters and story-telling that’ll leave a great impact.
Bit of a confession, much as I love certain Marvel characters and teams, like Spider-Man and the X-Men, I’ve only become a fan of the Avengers because of the MCU that was started in 2008. I love the MCU and Lord knows I’m foaming at the mouth for ENDGAME at the end of the month. But the truth is, throughout my pre-teens and… teen-teens, I was a Justice League fan. I loved Batman, Superman, and the eventual Justice League shows like it was life. Even to this day, whenever Netflix has it, I’ll always indulge in my nostalgia.
While certainly DC continued to throw out quality content with the likes of the Batman movies, from UNDER THE RED HOOD to BAD BLOOD, and definitely the Teen Titans movies, and so on and so forth, nothing truly captures the imagination and hunger for something that continues the original cartoons.
Well, it looks like that online Twitter shout-out for a Justice League reunion caught someone’s attention in the DC animation department because here we freakin’ are.
The story looks like it’s about a set of time travelers from the thirty-first century. One of them is suffering from amnesia, but the others are hostile and… seem to want Green Lantern for some odd reason, so it’s up to the League to protect everyone and beat the Fatal Five.
Here’s the cast. Starring, we have Elyes Gabel (INTERSTELLAR  and WORLD WAR Z ), Diane Gurrero (ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK [2013 – ongoing]), Kevin Conroy (BATMAN AND HARLEY QUINN  and YOGA HOSERS ), Philip Anthony-Rodriguez (RISE OF THE TOMB RAIDER ), and Sumaless Montano (FALLOUT 4  and DRAGON AGE: INQUISITION ).
In support, we have Susan Eisenberg (INJUSTICE 2  and JUSTICE LEAGUE [2001 – 2004]), George Newbern (INJUSTICE: GODS AMONG US  and JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED [2004 – 2006]), Daniela Bobadilla (stuff I’ve either never seen or heard of), Kevin Michael Richardson (THE FAIRLY ODDPARENTS [2001 – 2017] and MORTAL KOMBAT ), and Tara Strong (TEEN TITANS GO! TO THE MOVIES , MY LITTLE PONY , and BATMAN: KILLING JOKE ).
Now for the crew. Directing, we have Sam Liu, known for BATMAN/HARLEY and KILLING JOKE. Co-writing the screenplay are Alan Burnett (JUSTICE LEAGUE VS. TEEN TITANS  and BATMAN BEYOND [1999 – 2001]), Eric Carrasco (SUPERGIRL [2015 – ongoing]), and James Krieg (JUSTICE LEAGUE: THE FLASHPOINT PARADOX ). Co-composing the score are Kristopher Carter, Michael McCuistion, and Lolita Ritmanis, all known for BATMAN/HARLEY and KILLING JOKE. Finally, the editor is Christopher D. Lozinski, known for BATMAN/HARLEY and KILLING JOKE.
Already finished it, so let’s get a move on.
This is my honest opinion of: JUSTICE LEAGUE VS THE FATAL FIVE
In the 31st century, the Legion of Super-Heroes headquarters is attacked by three members of their group called the Fatal Five, temporarily lead by Mano (voiced by Philip Anthony-Rodriguez), in the hopes of claiming the Heroes’ time machine. Despite their best efforts, it’s claimed, but hero Thomas “Starboy” Kallor (voiced by Elyes Carrasco) hitches a ride with them and travels to the 21st century. Despite activating a fail-safe to trap the Five in the machine in stasis, he loses the ship and is beginning to lose his memory due to not taking medication that stabilizes his mind. Batman (voiced by Kevin Conroy) catches the now-frantic Starboy and sends him to Arkham Asylum.
Ten months later, Superman (voiced by George Newbern) and Mr. Terrific (voiced by Kevin Michael Richardson) continue to study the ship, not knowing of its true origins, and the Justice League’s local Green Lantern, Jessica Cruz (voiced by Diane Guerrero), is struggling with PTSD and survivor’s guilt of an event that happened in her past; watching her friends get murdered in front of her when they accidentally stumble upon a mysterious man attempting to bury a body. Eventually, Superman and Mr. Terrific bypass the stasis mode and the Five escape, searching for someone named “Lime Light,” which the League believes is Jessica, and seems to be the key to bringing back the other two Fatal Five members.
YEAH, BABY!!! Ugh, right in the nostalgia. This is how you do that right.
Also, I think it’s important to note that despite this movie having the same animation as the Justice League animated series as well as a few original voice actors, it’s not a continuation of UNLIMITED. It still takes place in the animated universe. Or, you know, you can also look at it like it’s a stand-alone flick. It’s pretty rare that these movies reference each other.
Most obvious, it’s such a treat and privilege to see this animation style return with the same character designs from Bruce Timm. A true continuation of JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED. Don’t get me wrong, I accepted the animation styles of every other Justice League movie, but there’s something classic about this one. The old school looks of Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman. It’s like the series never ended. And returning voice actors George Newbern, Kevin Conroy, and Susan Eisenberg, this movie automatically means I can’t hate it.
But let’s really dive into the core of this movie and that’s… actually a pretty cool topic for a small movie like this to be tackling, and that’s mental welfare. Essentially, the two starring characters are Jessica and Thomas, who both suffer from different mental problems. In Jessica’s case, PTSD. She’s afraid to go outside, imagining all these horrible things that might be out there. She doesn’t even really seem to want to be a Green Lantern at all as a result, and tries to avoid contact with the League, to no avail. Starboy is struggling with his memory problems, remembering only “Lime Light,” but you see how stressed he is, having borderline panic attacks to remember and properly help out the League. What I love about their dynamic is that even Jessica sort of dismisses therapy and the therapeutic mantras, she’s quick to use them to help Starboy, which seems to genuinely calm him down. I like seeing how these two connect and relate to each other. It’s actually really sweet. And I feel like in a lesser movie, the two would have ended up hooking up by the end. While certainly a romantic connection is hinted at, I’m glad the movie never truly goes there, as it would have been a distraction to the more compelling platonic relationship they really do have.
Beyond that, it’s fair to say that fan favorites Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman are more supporting characters doing the heavy lifting, but they’re still awesome in their own regard. By the way, this is by no means a complaint, but does anyone else feel like Mr. Terrific was chosen as a secondary protagonist simply because of the ARROW? I mean, I watched UNLIMITED as a kid, but even I never knew who that black dude was with the T painted on his face. I didn’t even know if he had powers or not. I didn’t get to know Mr. Fantastic until his introduction to ARROW. Though I can’t claim to know how fans like him as a character, it’s still name-recognition.
And I know you can get away with a lot in animation, but it never stops tickling me to see superheroes… in their superhero get-ups… eating burgers. Why does this feel so funny to me? What doubles down on this comedy is seeing Miss Martian (voiced by Daniela Bobadilla) enjoying human food… and then saying that she’s going to get a “mochaccino.” Bro, I work in a café and I don’t even know what a mochaccino is! What, is it just a cappuccino with mocha powder in it? Actually… that sounds like that’s exactly what it is… *one mochaccino later* Why did I do that?? Cappuccinos are gross as is! Why did I think mocha powder would change that?? … … … *adds caramel syrup* Okay, much more palatable now. Caramel mochaccino isn’t that bad. I think I’d prefer in latte form, as I hate foam in my espresso drinks, but… yeah, I’m pretty sure that’s just a caramel mocha. Hmm… my powers of deduction are shot…
Actually, that’s one of the better aspects with this movie, the comedy. While certainly forced in some areas (that pharmacy scene with Starboy, anyone?), for the most part, it really lands. I love when Jessica’s ring tells her that she can overcome any obstacle, “You’re a ring. You don’t know dick.” Or how about Two-Face being semi-reformed and protecting Starboy while he’s in Arkham? That got chuckles out of me when he bounces between threatening and apologizing for it.
There are only a few downsides worth mentioning. For one, the villains are kind of lame. Despite the movie being title “the Fatal Five,” a majority the Five’s screentime is only three of them, and they’re pretty bland characters. One of them is in love with the Emerald Princess (voiced by Sumalee Montano), but that’s about it for them.
<<<SPOILERS – highlight to reveal>>> [ Even the Five’s ultimate plan was kind of standard. Steal the power of the Green Lanterns, destroy the sun, go back to their own time and wipe out the existence of the Justice League. It’s like… yeah, destroying the sun… I feel like that’s been done before. Also, when Jessica is fighting the Five on Oa, her ring breaks. But later on, she can recite the oath and it fixes itself? Is… that accurate to the comics? That just seems like a cop out, if you ask me. ] <<<END SPOILERS>>>
Overall, yeah, this is a pretty great vacation to the good ole days of the Bruce Timm days of the Justice League. Pretty standard story when it comes to the good guys versus bad guys, but I really enjoy the mental wellness plot between Jessica and Starboy, Jessica being a great new addition to the DC universe. Actually, I’m pretty sure she’s pretty new to the comic universe too, making her first appearance in 2014. To see her get an official intro to one of my favorite animated shows of all time, you got me hopeful in seeing her in future installments. She’s a cool character. The return of Newbern, Conroy, and Eisenberg, man, you got me in love by default. How could I not?
My honest rating for JUSTICE LEAGUE VS THE FATAL FIVE: a strong 4/5