Justice League: Warworld (2023) Review

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Justice League: Warworld Poster

For its most recent animated feature, Justice League: Warworld, DC returns to the Tomorrowverse, which has been the setting for Superman: Man of Tomorrow, and Legion of Super-Heroes among others. It’s also a return to “R” rated animation and it’s easy to see why as the film has barely begun when Wonder Woman (Stana Katic, CBGB, Superman: Unbound) starts taking out cowboys with bloody headshots.

Yes, I said cowboys. It seems she’s managed to not only end up in the Old West but she’s gotten herself on the wrong side of Jonah Hex (Troy Baker, Lego DC Batman: Family Matters, Batman vs Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) and his men.

On Skartaris, a desert world that looks like the setting for a Dungeons and Dragons campaign, a Conanesque Bruce Wayne (Jensen Ackles, Batman: The Long Halloween, Part One, Supernatural) recognizable only by his mask, is a mercenary who finds himself caught in the war between the wizard Deimos (Damian O’Hare, Constantine: City of Demons – The Movie, Stargirl) and Warlord (Teddy Sears, A Waltons Thanksgiving, The Sounding).

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In the town of Grover’s Mill, Agent Faraday (Frank Grillo, Jiu Jitsu, The Gateway) and his new partner Agent Kent (Darren Criss, Transformers: Robots in Disguise, Muppets Haunted Mansion) find themselves tracking down an alien.

Jeff Wamester (Green Lantern: Beware My Power, Justice Society: World War II) directs from a script by Jeremy Adams (Batman and Superman: Battle of the Super Sons, Mortal Kombat Legends: Snow Blind), Ernie Altbacker (Justice League Dark: Apokolips War, Teen Titans: The Judas Contract), and Josie Campbell (Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous, She-Ra and the Princesses of Power) who give the story a somewhat unusual structure.

The first segment is a Wonder Woman solo story, but then she turns up in the second story, and she and Bruce Wayne factor into the third segment. That segment is shot in black and white before switching to colour at the point where the characters stumble onto the truth behind what is going on. It’s an effective way to signal that something odd is going on while keeping all of the main characters in play.

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I won’t give that away but it does involve another familiar figure, The Martian Manhunter (Ike Amadi, Superman: Man of Tomorrow, Mortal Kombat Legends: Scorpion’s Revenge), and a new villain Mongul (Robin Atkin Downes, Mortal Kombat Legends: Battle of the Realms, Batman: The Long Halloween, Part Two) and his henchman Lobo (John DiMaggio, Batman: The Doom That Came to Gotham, Scooby-Doo & Batman: The Brave and the Bold).

The three segments that begin Justice League: Warworld are decent, if fairly basic, stories. They’re entertaining but nothing really special either. The third, with its black-and-white animated, 1950s inspired look carries an echo of that era’s Red Scare that feels a bit too relevant now.

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The overall plot of the film is interesting but with much of its running time devoted to the segments there’s not a lot of time to explain just how Warwold itself functions and how Mongul’s scheme itself fits into it. I know Justice League: Warworld is a literal comic book movie, but if you’re going to pitch it to an older, more mature audience you need a bit more detail than one aimed at kids.

Justice League: Warworld benefits greatly from the voice actors Warner Animation hired for it, it’s just too bad the writers couldn’t have given them a bit more to work with. It all ends up being enjoyable if unspectacular and, unless whatever is waiting on the other side of the cliffhanger ending is considerably better, unmemorable.

Warner Bros. is scheduled to release Justice League: Warworld on Blu-ray, DVD and to VOD and Digital Platforms on July 25th.