Justice League vs The Fatal Five brings audiences back to Bruce Timm’s DC Animated Universe with a classic animation style, nostalgic instrumentals and a story that felt more or less like an episode of the series.
Directed by Sam Liu and produced by Bruce Timm and Alan Burnett, Justice League vs The Fatal Five is the latest attempt to the dive back into a the superhero universe. Probably the best collection of critically acclaimed superhero shows, Batman: The Animated Series, Superman: The Animated Series, Batman Beyond, Justice League, Static Shock and Justice League Unlimited were the MCU/DCEU of their time. Countless fans still see those shows, voices and interpretations as the definitive versions of the characters. Justice League vs The Fatal Five aimed to recapture the magic of Justice League. This proved to both be their triumph and flaw as the film used the classic heroes as a nostalgia boost rather than bring something truly new to their characters.
Probably the best aspect of this film was the cast. Bringing back Kevin Conroy, George Newbern and Susan Eisenberg as the iconic DC Trinity was absolutely wonderful. Each of them brought their best, with Susan in particular stealing the scene anytime her voice was heard as Diana. Seeing the trinity interact with each other felt just like the cartoon we all loved growing up. Because of this, the frustration of this film came when they didn’t get as much time as needed. What felt more or less like larger cameos in a story about Jessica Cruz and Star Boy, one could feel the obvious lack of the original JL members. While the intention was to grow the universe and meet new heroes, it would have been nice to have a film fully diving into the Justice League we have all been missing for years.
Justice League vs The Fatal Five covers the dual stories of an new Green Lantern and Star Boy, While the A plot covers Star Boy traveling to the past from the 31st century to stop the Fatal Five, the secondary plot thread was covering Jessica Cruz, a young woman with anxiety and extreme pressure to live up to the mantle she has been given. The Justice League, mainly through Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman ebb and flow through the plot, being reactive protagonists to what is happening around them, rather than the active style we used to see on the show. The movie quickly makes it clear that Green Lantern, Hawkgirl and Martian Manhunter are off doing their own adventures on other planets, with the Flash not mentioned at all. The story of the film isn’t bad by any means, it just felt a bit average. With the length similar to that of a classic 2-part Justice League episode, it doesn’t do much to be anything more than that-just another episode. What the film did do, was prove how much we could use a JL Reunion show that does stories like this in a more richer way, similar to what the show used to be and what Young Justice does now.
Justice League vs The Fatal Five is a solid addition to the DCAU. Seeing the cast come back together for a new adventure will please most fans. Introducing new characters to this existing world was also nice but with a such a short time to do it, the characters felt thinner than needed. Miss Martian in particular was just there, with little info on how she got there or her relation to Martian Manhunter himself. Jessica Cruz was the best of the new characters and watching her overcome her struggles and become the Lantern she was meant to be was a strong moment.
Other than that, the film doesn’t do much to stand out. Its greatest triumph showing why audiences would go crazy for a proper Justice League revival with the entire cast and more deeper stories. The greatest Justice League episodes were character studies, full of personal moments between the heroes with darker themes wrapped around them, sadly Justice League vs The Fatal Five doesn’t really come close to the best parts of that series but does show a blueprint to how the series could come back in a more meaningful way.
Overall, Justice League vs The Fatal Five will please fans of the original show and did a solid job bringing the feel of a classic episode back through the film. Strong voice acting from the DC Trinity and iconic theme instrumentals lead the way while thinner character arcs and a lack of fully committing to the magic of the original show held it back. Perhaps the one true goal of this film is to excite fans of the possibility of a full revival of the series, which would make this film well worth the watch.