In the live-action world of DC, the Justice League has received an enormous spotlight thanks to Zack Snyder’s four-hour cut of Justice League. However, Warner Bros. Animation’s latest film focuses on the somewhat forgotten Justice Society of America, a group that was created during the golden age of comic books to fight against World War II. So in order to explore the DC’s original band of heroes, the latest DC animation incorporates Flash’s time-travelling narrative to send him back to World War II and fight alongside the Justice Society of America as they look to take down the Nazis. It’s an action-packed animated adventure and one that feels big, even if it falls short in certain areas.
Justice Society: World War II opens with a great scene that sets up the world we will ultimately explore (World War II), the enemies, and, of course, the Justice Society of America, which in this film is led by Diana aka. Wonder Woman. Along with the darker visual, hitting home that we’re in the war time period, the opening does a wonderful job setting up the story, especially for those less familiar with the Justice Society of America. Also, the entrance of Wonder Woman is a clever hook to keep more casual fans locked into the narrative from the offset.
After introducing our band of heroes, the film goes to the present day and shows Barry Allen’s (The Flash) relationship struggles with Iris West. Not long after, Flash is forced into action to support Superman in a battle, and in the process, he encounters the speed force that sends him back in time to World War II. Once future Flash arrives at the World War II time period, the story kicks into a higher gear and rarely leaves you sitting, waiting for something to occur.
Justice Society: World War II has a plethora of action sequences that are enhanced and carry an extra grit thanks to the slightly more realistic-looking animation that is used. The action always seems to come at the right moment to provide the necessary jump that the story may require, and it even adds some slow-motion effects. Also, in the case of the climactic action scene, it truly feels like an epic superhero adventure akin to the live-action features that audiences have grown accustomed to in recent years.
The latest DC animation includes a fair amount of characters but does a good job fleshing out a lot of their stories. Whether it’s the popular romance of Steve Trevor and Diana or Black Canary’s unspoken love for Hawkman, there is a strong emotional core that carries the team’s journey that then enhances the action spectacle we see in the finale. In addition to that, the various relationships we see in the older world intelligently tie back into Barry’s life and his relationship with Iris as well, allowing the story to come full circle.
DC fans will also appreciate the edge and intensity this film possesses. Although it has some much-needed moments of levity with Diana and Steve’s flirting or Barry’s jokes, the story has a lot of heartbreak and is not soft when it comes to some of the violence on display. The grittiness only adds to the story and its emotion, as well as highlighting the depths that DC can and should go to more, further separating themselves from Marvel.
Justice Society: World War II does, unfortunately, disappoint in various parts. The characters are fleshed out well, particularly the central characters, but the voices behind them can feel a little bland at times. This is evident with Barry Allen, as there is real lack of energy and enthusiasm from The Flash, and it feels like the complete opposite to Ezra Miller’s well-balanced portrayal of The Flash in Zack Snyder’s Justice League.
Although the characters in the film are strong, the storyline feels simplistic and sometimes lacks detail, leaving those less familiar with the comics potentially feeling confused by certain events. Also, in regards to the storyline, there seems to be a lack of urgency from The Flash to actually seek a return to his world once he’s entered the World War II time period, which is rather confusing.
Despite the weaknesses, DC’s latest animated film is a strong outing that will entertain casual comic book fans while also including details that more die-hard fans will appreciate. In the end, Justice Society: World War II is a superhero spectacle that blends very well with the grittiness and reality of its war theme, making for an enjoyable 1 hour and 20 minute plus ride.
Justice Society: World War II is now available on DVD and Blu-ray.