DC has been releasing direct to DVD videos for the past few years using new or creative takes on some of the best loved characters. I wanted to look into the series and see what, if any of these, were child appropriate. The rather depressing look at part 1 is over here.
This time, we had better results overall with Wonder Woman and Green Lantern First Flight, but less exciting results with Superman/Batman: Public Enemies.
One of the big issues these days is DC being afraid of a Wonder Woman live action – I’d say movie but really anything. The current Wonder Woman comic deals heavily with mythology, gods and monsters, some of those monsters being the Amazonians themselves. The issues of making a film that is offensive to men scares Warner Brothers because for horrible reasons feminism is controversial in this day and age. And who does Wonder Woman fight – she hasn’t really had a movie before, she has no Lex Luthor, in most of the old shows she fought spies and Nazis.
Well the Wonder Woman animated feature looks at all those problems, laughs and then decapitates them with a sword, figuratively speaking (not saying literally since we have literally misused literally so much that literally now also literally means not literally). Taking place on Themyscyra, you start off with a battle between the Amazonians and the forces of Ares and this is pretty violent. There is blood. There are somewhat cartoonish decapitations (head in silhouette flying in the air) and the film involves an army of undead warriors attacking DC as Wonder Woman tries to save the world from destruction when Ares returns.
The almost desire to earn the PG-13 rating and to push it is pretty frustrating as a person who wants to recommend the films but if you can get past the violence – it is war so it is more reasonable than the violence in Man of Steel, I’d recommend it. The film is fun, entertaining, it actually does a fantastic job of promoting feminism minus one small misstep and the voice actors are all fantastic. Keri Russell stars and nerd hero Nathan Fillion co-stars.
If sword fighting violence is something you think your kids are fine with, check out Wonder Woman and prepare for some fun.
Superman/Batman: Public Enemies
At the other end of the fighting scale is Superman/Batman: Public Enemies. The film is a series of battles that are lengthened to make up time for the plot. Most of the B-characters have no lines, and even though they got the DC Animated Universe actors for the film, the characters feel flat and this may have been the worst DC Animated Film yet. I was literally yelling at the screen.
The pitch is that Lex Luthor is President, a giant meteor is coming towards Earth, and Luthor puts a warrant out on Superman and Batman. Supervillains and heroes alike try to stop the World’s Finest team only to be stopped, obviously. All the while, Lex Luthor’s plans are pretty horribly thought out and unclear and everything ends with a giant composite Superman/Batman robot that is actually a missile that apparently also has a cockpit in it.
The film is pointlessly brutal, a dearth of enjoyment, highly disturbing and really a waste of time. Avoid the film and don’t subject your kids to the waste of an hour and a half that is Superman/Batman: Public Enemies.
Green Lantern First Flight
I can never take back the time I wasted on the Green Lantern live-action film. The main character was a pale attempt at Tony Stark who instead of being charming spent his time attacking people who deserved his ring more than he did. I would have rather seen the supervillain whose main crime was trying to make his own legacy through honest work get the ring than the “hero of the film.”
With that said though, Green Lantern First Flight is infinitely better as a movie. For one thing, the origin that they spent 40 minutes on took only 5 minutes in the film. They established Jordan as a hero and someone likable with only 4 lines in those minutes. They made him someone who might actually deserve the ring.
The film casts the Green Lanterns more as space cops with Jordan pairing up with Sinestro (that name doesn’t mean he’ll fall to evil) and Sinestro is a disturbing villain. He forces a space alien to overdose on what are essentially drugs, he brutally interrogates prisoners and he might be my biggest worry for younger children watching the film. That and the character who gets impaled and the other one who is shot in the chest – oh and the highly disturbing scene where a guy is sucked through a small rip in the ship’s hull by the vacuum of space and you see every bit of it. I got the jeebies.
The movie, despite the handful of extra violent and dark moments, is highly entertaining and fun, so I’d recommend it, just with that heads up.
Next time I’ll take a look at Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths (which I remember as being much tamer), Batman: Under The Red Hood and Superman/Batman: Apocalypse (both of which I remember being pretty dark).