Justice League: The New Frontier

Wow. This Movie! Is So! Awesome!!!

justice league poster by you.

Okay, so! Justice League: The New Frontier is based on the comic book series DC: The New Frontier by Darwyn Cooke, who served as story and visual consultant here. AND IT’S SO GOOD! It’s spirited and gritty and fierce and funny and just utterly delicious. It’s got about a hundred different storylines so I’m going to try to be as brief as possible with the recapping before getting to the awesome. Which, granted, is everything.

Justice League: The New Frontier opens on July 27th, 1953 with Lois Lane on the radio, announcing the end of the Korean War. Hal Jordan, heroically voiced by David Boreanaz, tries to convince an attacking young Korean soldier that the war has ended. The soldier continues his assault on Jordan unabated, and Jordan is forced to shoot him in the face.

hal korea 2 by you.

Remember how I said Superman: Doomsday wasn’t for the kiddies? You know what? Go ahead and watch that one, children. BUT DO NOT WATCH JUSTICE LEAGUE: THE NEW FRONTIER. Unless you want a massive overdose of HELL YES!

Jordan is so disturbed by the young soldier’s pointless death that he checks himself into a mental ward for two years. Meanwhile, a well-meaning astronomer accidentally summons to Earth Martian J’onn J’onnz  (with an excellent casting choice of Miguel Ferrer) and then dies of a heart attack from the shock, effectively stranding J’onnz on this planet. J’onnz’s ability to shapeshift allows him to temporarily use the astronmer’s identity to get an apartment and a television. He then begins a scholarly pursuit into the idiosyncrasies of American society by watching the boob toob, disinterestedly morphing, as he watches, from Groucho Marx to Bugs Bunny to the Indian on the test signal at the end of programming, before settling on becoming a cop named John Jones after catching a noir detective story.

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He quickly moves up through the ranks to detective through his intellectual cunning as well as his telepathic prowess. Below is a picture of Det. Jones in his human form. On the right. Left is Batman. We’ll get to him in a bit.

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Back to Hal Jordan: after he’s released from the mental institution, he finds a job at top aircraft company Ferris Industries, headed by the lovely Carol Ferris (Brooke Shields):

ferris by you.

who also employs Rick Flag (the weirdly Supermannily-named Lex Lang):

hal rick by you.

and King Faraday (Phil Morris, who plays John Jones on Smallville!):

faraday by you.

Ferris and Jordan embark on an instant flirtation during his interview. (Ferris: “Look, Hal, I don’t get involved with my employees.” Jordan: “I understand, Carol, but I don’t become your employee for two more weeks.”)

hal ferris 2

Ferris has employed Jordan, Faraday and Flag for a top-secret mission to Mars to investigate J’onnz’s arrival on Earth. Jordan finds the news of his imminent space travel, “Outstanding!”

Barry Allen/The Flash, voiced charmingly by Neil Patrick Harris, is living a dual life, happily in love with reporter Iris West (Vicki Lewis) while disguising himself to fight criminals such as his nemesis, Captain Cold (James Arnold Taylor). Our first introduction to The Flash lets us know that he’s a total ROCK STAR, as he detonates 5 bombs and jumps after Captain Cold’s retreating helicopter before he can escape…all in 90 seconds. It pretty much rocks.

flash cc by you. 

Meanwhile, Wonder Woman (the Flawless Lucy Lawless) has been arming Korean women who have been used as sex slaves by the rebels and training them to shoot a little rebel ass. Superman (Marla fave Kyle MacLachlan), sweet little boy scout that he is, is aghast at her iconoclastic attitude and reminds her that the government and public opinion have turned against superheroes for just this reason. Wonder Woman? Could give a shit.

ww korea by you.

superman by you.

Superman and Wonder Woman have a challenging relationship based on their differing views of humans and America. Superman’s a cheesy little choir boy who believes in the American dream; Wonder Woman is a bad-ass Amazonian who understands the American reality. Despite their similar heritage, they don’t see eye to eye.

sm ww standoff by you.

Also, Superman’s still-and-always got a thing for Lois Lane (Kyra Sedgwick). He really is a one-woman boy scout.

sm lois by you.

Batman (the abso PERFECT Jeremy Sisto, whose Bat Voice totally schools Christian Bale) is a Rorschach-y silent weird viligante creep (and thus awesome).

batman by you.

He and J’onnz start working together on a case to bust these weird kidnapping cult guys who worship something called The Centre. News of The Centre doesn’t appear to bode well for the superfolks.

bm monk by you.

Okay, so America is distrustful of superheroes and Communism, in that order, and J’onnz considers leaving the planet because of all of the ignorance and violence and nastiness, and The Centre is a giant living island of malevolent intergalactic energy intent on destroying humankind because we’re parasites on the planet. Can’t really fault him there.

the centre by you.

Hal Jordan’s Mars mission doesn’t go so well and he discovers that Rick Flag has packed an arsenal of shit to school those Martians, so he gets pissed and books it out of the space ship…into space. Whoopsies! Thankfully Superman’s there to save his silly ass.

sm hal

Upon his return to Earth, Jordan meets Abin Sur, the Green Lantern of Sector 2184, and Abin Sur tells him that his recent trip through the atmosphere almost killed him (Abin Sur, that is), so he instructed his ring to find a worthy replacement to the Green Lantern mantle. The pain Jordan felt at killing the young Korean soldier proves that he finds every single human life precious, and that he lives without fear. So Abin Sur gives Hal his ring and costume, making him Earth’s Green Lantern. And it’s stirring and inspiring!

hal alien

Back to The Flash, he retires after the police deceive and try to capture him so they can discover the truth about his abilities, and the crowd sneers about his costume, “Red is for Commies!”

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So everyone’s about to give up on Earth for different reasons, most of which include the fact that humans kind of suck, but then various scenarios pull them back and they realize that they don’t want every living human on the planet to die at the tentacles of The Centre after all! Phew! So they fight it! AND IT’S AWESOME. As the government officials and various superheroes bicker about the best tactic for whupping this supervillain, King Faraday asserts, “All of you remember, today there are no Democrats, no Republicans. No hawks, no doves. Just the naked simplicity of an absolute: mankind’s survival. Good luck to us all.”

justice league by you.

Guys, this movie was just a 75-minute gripping thrill ride of kick-ass fun! The whole post-WWII/ McCarthyism/ disillusionment analogy works great with the story line. As Wonder Woman is training with Fury, she says about America, “It’s changed since the war. Back then we were in the right. It was simple. They still say they’re in the right, but they don’t always act that way.” 

It’s really a character-driven story, and it’s pretty exciting that Martian Manhunter (as J’onn J’onnz becomes),

jj

as well as The Flash and Green Lantern take center stage here, leaving old hats Superman and Batman on the sidelines. They manage to squeeze a LOT of story and character development into those 75 minutes, but honestly, I wish it were longer. The pacing was riveting and the characters were fleshed out, but the whole The Centre story was pretty fuzzy. It was just like, “Yeah, kill that weird giant planet thingy that keeps sending the dinosaurs after the good guys! Whatever!”

ww 2

(Man, Wonder Woman is intensely hard-core in this. She is one awesome Amazonian titan.)

Despite the nebulous plot details, the final action sequence is absolutely breathtaking. Epic. Biblical. FUCKING. BAD. ASS. And you know what? Although Superman and Batman certainly give it their all…

sm centre

bm fight

…it’s up to little old Flash and Green Lantern to save the day! And they totally do!

flash 2

green lantern 2

(The Flash: “That guy with the ring, he wasn’t part of the plan? Or wasn’t I listening?”)

Justice League: The New Frontier has a lot of wink-y nudge-y humor. When Superman visits the Bat Cave and first meets Robin and sees Batman’s new, more innocuous costume, he says, “New look. Sidekick? Mind if I ask you…?” Batman gruffs, “Actually, I do. Let’s just say I set out to scare criminals. Not children.” 

I just can’t recommend this movie more highly for comic book nerds. If Hollywood were to option this for a feature-length theatre release, it would CLEAN UP. It would be one of the greatest comic book movies ever made. Because even in 75 minutes of straight-to-video animation, I just can’t stop thinking about this brave, striking, original, boisterous little film.

jla

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4 Responses to “Justice League: The New Frontier”

  1. wow. you were right. SO MUCH AWESOMENESS!!!

    i must see this movie IMMEDIATELY!

    i really like all of the casting, too, cos it’s not necessarily what you would expect from the industry. like, jeremy sisto? underutilized!! what’s funny is that i see a ton of these people (jeremy, david, kyra) on the TNT tv at the gym. work-out entertainment, represent!

  2. I was a huge fan of this movie like you, Marla. I was actually pleasantly surprised. I want to watch it again immediately. All the voice acting was superb but I will have to agree with you that Jeremy Sisto as Batman took the cake. The movie was just plain cool. That’s about sums it up for me.

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