Injustice Review: Superman Unleashed Falls Flat
It’s no more mister nice guy as the Man of Steel drops the kid gloves and unleashes his wrath on Earth’s evil-doers. Injustice is an animated adaptation of the wildly popular, cross-platform video game fighting series. The plot takes place in an alternate reality where the heinous Joker (Kevin Pollak) pushes Superman (Justin Hartley) to an unfathomable extreme. He becomes judge, jury, and executioner. Splitting the Justice League with his intractable take on guilt or innocence. Injustice has a riveting first act, but unfortunately devolves into a rushed frenzy of carnage. What begins as a thoughtful exploration of grief and rage turns into mindless blood sport.
On a beautiful morning, Superman and Lois Lane (Laura Bailey) reach a critical juncture in their relationship. Their reverie is interrupted by a fracas with a trusted ally. Batman (Anson Mount) has followed the Joker and Harley Quinn (Gillian Jacobs) to Metropolis. He quickly realizes that Superman is the target of a vile plot. The Joker has tired of the usual games with the Dark Knight. The only way to foil Batman is to give him a truly formidable adversary.
The aftermath of the Joker’s actions shatters Superman to the core. Wonder Woman (Janet Varney) feels his outrage. The time has come to annihilate villainy and end violence. Superman announces his intentions for peace through crushing force. Batman, Green Arrow (Reid Scott), and Nightwing (Derek Phillips) vehemently oppose Superman’s tactics. But Wonder Woman, Cyborg (Brandon Michael Hall), and Robin (Zach Callison) support the stunning change. Former allies become bitter enemies as an unstoppable god imposes his will.
Injustice has a great premise. How many innocent people could have been saved if Batman killed the Joker on day one? The catch and release silliness with a dangerous psychopath finally reaches a spectacularly horrifying conclusion. Batman’s morality and sense of righteousness hits a Kryptonian brick wall. Bruce Wayne pretends to embody vengeance, but his unwillingness to kill invariably lets criminals escape. Superman’s emotional breakdown leads to a clarity of purpose. Nothing can prevent him from pulverizing every baddie into worm food.
Injustice loses focus when Superman predictably becomes an unhinged tyrant. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. The film needed to handle this change better than a superhero free for all. A bizarre series of goofy plot twists turns the film into a disappointing replica of the game it’s based on. Characters kill each other to gory, exaggerated ends. The story crumbles apart and limps to a feeble conclusion unworthy of the excellent beginning.
The sixteen films of the DC Animated Movie Universe set a pretty high standard. From Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox to Justice League Dark: Apokolips War, they were gritty as hell, brilliantly animated, and took the time to build complex narratives. Injustice is a stand-alone adventure that had promise, but just doesn’t measure up. It needed to advance the source material and not just emulate its violence. An opportunity was lost here to really challenge Batman and Superman’s unyielding virtue. Injustice is a production of Warner Bros. Animation, DC Entertainment, and Ian Rodgers Productions. It’s currently available for digital download with a DVD/Blu-ray release on October 19th from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.
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