Justice League: Doom (2012, 77 minutes)
Plot: The members of the Justice League find themselves under attack when Vandal Savage uses stolen plans by Batman to take out each member.
Source Material: This lifts the basic premise from Mark Waid’s first rate Tower of Babel along with some of the weaknesses of the League members but changes the premise to the point it’s almost unrecognizable. Most of the cast was also used in the DC Animated Universe, which this isn’t set in but it feels like at times. So it’s a bit of a melange but unlike Superman/Batman: Public Enemies, it feels like a more certain melange. Really just think of it as an non-canon DCAU film and it’s fine.
Animation: Honestly pretty effective. There’s no moments of stunning beauty or anything all that visually interesting but the character designs are quality, maybe just a half step off from the DCAU, and they move well. The action is strong throughout as well. Compared to the all too frequent still shots used in later films, it’s a giant relief. It’s fluid throughout. My big letdown is the Legion of Doom hq is generic, but otherwise the animation does the trick.
Script: Writer Dwayne McDuffie didn’t live to see the film, which is dedicated to him. That said, even if he’d lived I still wouldn’t be hesitating to praise his script above everything else here. McDuffie really packs this thing tight with character and interesting action. It’s a bit small in scope, limited to one major situation really, but that allows the characters to shine. I feel like maybe 10-15 minutes at the start would’ve really allowed this to stand alone but I know the limits these films worked with. It’s still a dynamite script.
Voice acting: With limited exceptions, the cast all had experience in their roles. That really works in the film’s favor since they know what they’re doing. I know I praise Kevin Conroy a lot, but in this case he faced a real challenge as a deeply fallible take on Batman and he rose to it wonderfully. Nathan Fillion also turns in an unexpectedly moving turn as Hal Jordan, put into a situation where the quips dry up and he delivers a genuinely pained performance.
Final thoughts: A worthy 4. It’s an immensely satisfying film as a comic book fan, one that focuses on character above all else. It’s a shade too minor to compete at the top level, not really an event film, but it honestly entertained me more than some of the live action films I’ve seen. Had I caught this at a late night screening at the dollar theater I would’ve had a ton of fun. Watching it at home I was thrilled.