written by Justin Prince (@prince_justin)
The DC Universe is wrought with worlds built upon worlds, whether Earth 2, Earth Prime, or any other variation of the continuity, this is a common practice among the writers of various DC Universe properties. DC launched the New 52 late 2011 in an effort to consolidate the many fractured worlds of the DCU. The occurrence that brought this universe wide “re-boot” of their franchises came during the Flashpoint arc, but before I get too into comics… let’s wax a bit about the recent direct to video release of Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox.
The direct to home video DC animated releases have always been stellar, staying very true to the source material. Much like the animated series featured on television like Young Justice (still sad that only lasted two seasons) the animation is very well done and the voice cast is always on point. The difference is in how the content is presented. Most of these direct to home releases are rated PG-13 and feature a grittier and more comic book accurate portrayal of these stories, while the TV shows cater mostly to kids (and thus must be fairly light on more mature content) the animated films don’t pull any punches. If you’ve never seen one of the many films in the DC Animated library (check out Justice League Doom, Under the Red Hood, and The Dark Knight Returns part 1 and 2), this is a good place to start. Every release seems to get better every time a new movie is announced, and honestly… after the beautifully faithful adaptation of Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns (released as two separate movies) I didn’t think it could get any better, that is until now… yes it’s that good.
Imagine having the ability to change the past, the Flash and his villainous counterpart, Professor Zoom, have this ability. I can tell by your confused look that you are wondering how speedsters can alter the space/time continuum… or maybe I’m just looking for a segue, Flash and Zoom are able to tap into the speedforce to not only break the sound barrier, but time barrier… in short, giving the ability to travel through time, this was proven when Zoom first encountered Flash since he’s from the 25th century. The timelines are fractured and something changed, Barry Allen (the Flash’s secret identity) awakens at his desk to the realization that everything is different. Two super-powered forces are locked in a conflict that turns the civilized world into a battlefield, claiming millions of lives in the process. Atlantis is at war with Themyscira, Aquaman and Wonder Woman lead their respective kingdoms to an all out battle over the surface world. Barry discovers that his mother is still alive and he never marries Iris West, and even worse, it seems that the accident that gave Barry his speedster powers in the first place never occurred, thus the Flash doesn’t exist in this continuity.
[Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox] sets the bar for all future DC Animated releases, and for me… it builds my anticipation for a big budget studio Flash film… please don’t screw up the Flash DC!
The strange part is that Barry still remembers everything about his reality, he remembers Aquaman and Wonder Woman as friends and vividly recalls his time as a member of the Justice League. To find answers, Barry searches for Batman, if anyone could deduce what happened to the world… the world’s greatest detective can. In this world, Batman isn’t the same caped crusader you may be used to, unlike the Batman from Barry’s reality, this Batman is more violent and has no qualms about using guns or killing villains. The ripple in time changed a great many thing, one event in particular was altering that moment in the alley… rather than Bruce watching his parents Thomas and Martha Wayne get gunned down, Bruce is the one that dies and Thomas beats the mugger to death… in this world, the father becomes the Bat. Eventually, Barry convinces Batman to believe his story and the two attempt to recreate the accident that made Barry the Flash. Oh, and in case you’re curious… it worked.
On the other side of the world, Atlantis and Themyscira are locked in a violent war, and it’s up to the newly super powered Flash along with Batman and Cyborg to end the war. The final battle is brutal, I didn’t think they could top how Brutal The Dark Knight Returns was, but they did. Heroes die and blood flows throughout the battlefield. It was brutally true to the original comic, makes me wish they went the route of The Dark Knight Returns and released Flashpoint in two parts. While thoroughly satisfying, 75 minutes was not enough and I felt like I wanted more. Being a fan of the comic I was very satisfied with how they translated the story to an animated film, my one complaint was not showing the scenes with this world’s Joker. There was a short scene outlining the Joker, but the moments from the comic that featured this world’s Joker make Heath Ledgers turn as the Clown Prince of Crime seem downright sane. While this is a small complaint, it mirrors one of my criticisms of Under the Red Hood, where a resurrected Jason Todd beats down the third Robin (Tim Drake) while calling him an imposter. Though I understand that they do have to stick to their very strict 75 minute running time, I just wish they could up it to 90 minutes.
You’ll come across some pretty familiar voices when watching this, many of whom have portrayed their character before. The most notable with one of the smallest roles was Kevin Conroy (the people’s Batman!) as Bruce Wayne/Batman, though I’m not upset that Conroy didn’t portray the alternate reality Thomas Wayne/Batman, Kevin McKidd (Grey’s Anatomy, Trainspotting) does an excellent job portraying Batman, down to way he personifies the gruff demeanor of the Batman we know and love, but giving him a truly unique spin. Another Grey’s Anatomy alum portrays our titular hero and does a damn good job with it, Justin Chambers voices Barry Allen/the Flash. Rounding out the voice cast are several other notable names like Nathan Fillion (Hal Jordan/Green Lanter), C. Thomas Howell (Professor Zoom/Eobard Thawne), Ron Perlman (Deathstroke/Slade Wilson), Cary Elwes (Aquaman), and Michael B. Jordan (Cyborg/Victor Stone).
This release is one that people will be talking about for a very long time, even with the few complaints I had, this was still a viewing experience I am very glad to have been a part of. It sets the bar for all future DC Animated releases, and for me… it builds my anticipation for a big budget studio Flash film… please don’t screw up the Flash DC! While I was disappointed by Man of Steel, Superman doesn’t rank high on my list of favorite DCU characters, Batman will always be my favorite DCU hero, but the Flash holds a very close second, anyway g33ks… this is an absolute must buy, you owe it to yourself not to miss this movie… yes it really IS that good.