If you grew up in the 90’s watching DC’s animated TV shows you may remember the distinct art style of Bruce Timm, having been so involved in the making of said shows they have been dubbed, Timmverse, or Diniverse (after Paul Dini). Timm’s 50’s era style of art is back for Justice League Vs Fatal Five but him not so much, only serving as an Executive Producer. This doesn’t hinder the movie whatsoever, but it does raise the question of if Justice League Vs Fatal Five (let’s call it JLvFF) falls into the old Justice League/Unlimited series, it even brings back Kevin Conroy, Susan Eisenberg, and George Newborn in their classic roles of Batman, Wonder Woman, and Superman. If this is or isn’t canon doesn’t matter much, because it’s a fun yet bumpy ride no matter the status.
JLvFF shines a spotlight on newly recruited Green Lantern Jessica Cruz (Diane Guerrero), and an amnestic legionnaire Star Boy (Elyes Gabel) flung back in time. Jessica’s origin story doesn’t stray far from her comic book counterpart, while her and some friends hike the woods they stumble upon two men borrowing bodies, thus prompting the men to kill her friends while she escapes. Waking up from this three year old memory we learn of her fear of the unknowns of the outside, and general uneasiness. JLvFF features heavy themes of mental illness, PTSD, and trauma. Themes of this nature usually don’t make their way into the mainstream superhero media, but when they appear in JLvFF the writers (Alan Burnett, Eric Carrasco, James Krieg) handle it with respect, while not making it seem shoehorned in. When a Green Lantern‘s main power comes via their “will” transferred into their ring it’s nice to see one that isn’t immensely cocky like Hal, or Guy. Having Jessica at first reject the responsibilities of the ring, even with the goading of Wonder Woman she doesn’t join up with the League until she befriends Star Boy. When she finally overcomes her fear of the unknown and her uncertainties she becomes a bad ass Green Lantern that she is “destined” to become. Her willingness to overcome these obstacles are great but feels as if they spent a little more time on her rise over these fears it would’ve felt more emotional.
Thom Kallor, or better known as his Legion superhero name Star Boy hails from the 31st century where our story begins. Having failed to stop Tharok (Peter Jessop), Persuader (Matthew Yang King), and Mano (Philip Anthony-Rodriguez) from hi-jacking a time-sphere, Star Boy recklessly jumps on the Sphere getting transported back in time with the three remaining members of the Fatal Fave. Plummeting towards the earth Star Boy triggers the booby trap set-up by Brainic-5 (Noel Fisher) in the Sphere freezing them in time while he falls to earth crushing his supply of mind-stabilizing drugs. In search of his medication Star Boy stops at a pharmacy to comedic results but ends up getting arrested and taken down by Batman. Months pass with Star Boy spending his time in Arkham under heavy medication until he sees his foes from the future on TV fighting Superman, causing him to remember segments of random information from his shattered mind. Starting to sprout what seems like nonsense he becomes outraged and escapes from Arkham thus causing cells to spring open showing classic Bat-villains from the Timmverse that Batman then takes down. As usual Batman deduces what Star Boy was trying to say ending with the League on the hunt for Green Lantern in Oregon.
Another new comer to the League is Miss Martian, who has in the past few years gained fame from the Young Justice cartoon. She is a nice addition to the film but never feels fleshed out, only following around Batman as a protégé while training to be a full time League member. Not every character in a story needs a complete backstory or history of why they are in said story, but Miss Martian feels like a last second add-on primarily joking at Batman rather then adding anything to the team dynamic. And yes her jokes are pretty funny but it feels as if they cut some of her story out. On the humor side it reflects the older shows jokes while staying mature for the story being told in the film, and a heads up there is a little blood/gore and death, so be weary if that isn’t your thing. Throughout the film are a multitude of fights that look greatly animated with easy to follow movements and attacks that make them a joy to watch while never feeling cluttered when many heroes are on screen. The film takes a few moment to mention a couple of League members absences from the story but never goes out of the way to try and connect it to the past, which works out for the best leaving the answer up to the viewer. Personally I enjoyed it no matter the canon because although it had a few bumps it told it’s story well and made me a fan of Jessica Cruz, I already was a Star Boy fan and believe they did him justice.
Memorable Quote: “Fart Nuggets.” – Salaak. I love how an alien Green Lantern says this, my theory is he learned it from Guy Gardner.