Imagine a world in the DC universe where
there never was a Superman, Batman was really
crazy, Aquaman was a total pimp and Wonder Woman didn't mind
giving it up every once in a while. That's a crazy comic
book world right there. A few years back DC comics
published a series of books called 'Flashpoint' which examined
just these scenarios, and now we have an animated film
compressed for time to fit these scenarios, give or take a few
instances for creative liberties, called 'Justice League:
Flashpoint Paradox', and while DC's live action films might be
hit or miss for some, their animated films almost always hit
the bull's-eye. This one is no exception.
Today, Barry Allen (voiced by Justin Chambers), is at his
mother's grave, laying flowers as today is the day she was
murdered so many years ago. If only he could've done
something. Then there's an emergency call at the Flash
Museum… the Flash has a museum? Dedicated to just
him? But we digress… a call comes in, it's a bunch of
his old villains up to no good, Flash, along with the rest of
the Justice League put them down, including his arch enemy
Professor Zoom (C. Tomas Howell), and it's all good.
Even though Professor Zoom seems really smug about something,
despite the fact he's in the custody of Superman and ain't
going nowhere but to jail.
Anyway, Barry goes to work, wakes up
after sleeping on his desk… something that would get me fired…
and things are a little different. The headline reads
something along the lines of an Apocalypse is Near. He
walks outside confused, only to see him mom alive.
Yay! Or not. He tells mom he's The Flash, but in
this new reality, I can run faster than Barry Allen. Cut
to Batman (Kevin McKidd), in a worse looking version of
Gotham, like that's even possible, fighting Harley
Quinn. Difference being that this Batman has pulled out
his nines and is trying to kill her. Where's your
utility belt dawg? Fortunately Cyborg (Michael B.
Jordan) stops Batman from murdering
Harley, but Cyborg just needs Batman's
help. The world is in trouble, Aquaman and Wonder Woman
are at war with each other, and the only logical conclusion to
this war is the total annihilation of the planet. Batman
ain't interested. In saving the planet. How bad
can things be on this planet that Batman wouldn't mind if it
just went away? What the heck is going on?
Well, remember Captain Zoom being all smug about stuff?
Somehow I think he's someway involved in all of this.
I'm not quite sure how, but I'm pretty sure he is. The
rest of the movie should be experienced organically by the
viewer for maximum quantum effect.
Without giving too much away, because if there was a movie
that has to be experienced by fans of this kind of thing, this
is the one, and while I do think there are some gaps in the
storytelling, but 'Justice League: Flashpoint Paradox' is
pretty darned awe inducing. For anyone with even a
passing familiarity with these characters, observing their new
personas in this different world is almost shocking, and since
dark is the almost always the color of the day for comic book
tales nowadays, it doesn't get much darker than 'Flashpoint
Paradox'. Aquaman (Cary Elwes) and Wonder Woman (Vanessa
Marshall) might look the same, Aquaman rocking a fade, but
they aren't the kindly characters we've come to know.
Now one would think that it would take more than a simple
paradox shift to change what is in a person's heart, but we
will simply pass that off as one of the gaps in the
storytelling we might've observed.
Still, it is clear that director Jay Oliva and his team had a
lot fun translating this world to us, the viewer, and the
excitement they had comes through. Why is Batman the way
that he is this reality? The answer is there.
Where is Superman? If ever we ever needed Superman, we
need him now. I'm pretty sure a paradox change on Earth
didn't stop Jor-El from launching that ship from
Krypton. Oh look! It's Steve Trevor! Wonder
Woman's boyfriend! Or not. More surprises and
shocking events awaits.
Technically, these D.C. animated features continue to improve
on the animation scale, with 'Flashpoint Paradox' being the
best animated D.C. feature yet, the voice acting is always top
notch and the pace and action sequences have no problem
keeping our eyes on the screen. As I mentioned before,
due the scope of this story and the need to compress for time,
there are things that left me wondering 'why is that?' or 'how
did that happen?' or 'How did that come be, because that
doesn't make any sense to me?' but I must admit I wasn't
bogged down with these thoughts as I was too busy reveling in
the overall awesomeness of it all.
I've always held up 'Batman: Under the Red Hood' as the gold
standard for the D.C. animated features that I have seen, and
while I'm not sure I'd put 'Flashpoint Paradox' ahead of that
one, it might be exhibit 1B to 'Under the Red Hoods' exhibit
1A. It's that good.