In honour of Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox… here are my TOP 5 DC Animated Movies. This of course refers to movies that have been made by DC animation over the last several years. There have been 19 in total including the latest Flashpoint film. These direct-to-video entries, like the Bruce Timm/Paul Dini TV series’s from past years, are WAY better then what we see on the big screen. Of course, I’m biased as I like animation and feel that too many changes happen in the live action area but I digress.
2007 was the beginning of this serious effort by DC Animation to produce quality product when they gave us Superman: Doomsday. While it tried to capture the Death of Superman story I felt it was a bit flat. Since then things have vastly improved, mostly because of Bruce Timm’s involvement. However he has now moved on and it will be interesting to see what comes next.
Here are the rules…
- Must be DC animated direct to video
Sadly, while many of these films are made only a few are worth watching. With that in mind, I wanted to highlight some films that are part of this group. Here are what I think are great examples.
The filmed attempt to retell Darwyn Cooke’s classic story of the silver age versions of the DC characters. I was a big fan of the comic series when it was first published. Cooke has a very distinct style that really showcased these characters well. He also has a very clear understanding of who they were and what they did in that era. Moving to an animated film version, obviously there had to be changes to both the story structure and characters. However the base of the story is about Hal Jordan becoming Green Lantern and in essence, the formation of what would become the Justice League. Classic sci-fi story with classic superheroes learning to work together = instant classic.
I know that this was not a favourite of many Batman fans but to date, it is still the 3rd highest grossing DC animated film. There are 2 major points of contention concerning this film. First it was done by Japanese anime directors and second it was done as short vignettes. But that is why I like it! Sure, the animation styles are disparate and sometimes jarring but in a film where it is basically told like a survivors’ grief counseling meeting, this approach has its benefits. Telling the story this way allows Batman to be many different versions of himself without feeling strange because it’s from the viewpoint of the witnesses. If they did an entire series like this I would be happy. Batman is best told when he is myth and legend like in this movie.
I know this isn’t a complete movie per se but it is one of the finer entries by DC Animation. We start with the Shazam/Superman short which is the longest of the series at roughly 30mins. It is an excellent piece of animated storytelling giving Shazam a great showcase of his powers and sensibilities. It also features all of the DC Shorts released up to that point, including the best piece ever animated by DC, The Spectre. There needs to be more of him, period. Steve Niles helped bring this script to life and it just sings with an awesome 70’s exploitation vibe which would make a really fantastic addition to the DC animated shows they’re currently making for CW.
Year One is my favourite Batman story. Just for reference The Killing Joke is second. Regardless, the original story is the best thing ever written about the character and this film is maybe the best thing ever filmed regarding him. We get to have Bryan Cranston play Lt. Jim Gordon at a time when he is dealing with some pretty dark issues in his life. Meanwhile Bruce is just becoming the Batman. This tells how the relationship between two men on different sides of the same coin become partners. It is clean, simple and effective storytelling. Also, it is pretty amazing how much of the original story they recreated on screen. The only weak spot is Ben Mckenzie as Bruce Wayne/Batman. It’s hard to hear him do this part after years of Kevin Conroy but in retrospect, I have come to appreciate the performance for what it is: a fresh, wet behind the ears Batman.
While All-Star Superman might be the overall better film about both the character and his universe, this is the best argument about his moral core. Based on the Superman issue What’s So Funny About Truth, Justice & the American Way?, it gives the point of view that many so-called fans are missing today. This is a clear demonstration of what Superman is about and why he matters. Superman is upstaged by new “heroes” who are shall we say a little more progressive in their handling of the bad guys while Superman is shown to be weak willed and out of touch with the common people’s point of view. By the time we get to the end and Superman begins to teach his lesson on morality, it is clear that what he truly stands for is still needed today and even more so in our world as well. If The Man of Steel is a true reflection of what “the people” want, then I’ll stick with this.
So there it is, my list. There are so many more that I could have added but I wanted to go with what I think of as the best representatives of the group. If you are looking for something to watch this weekend give one of these a try.
If you’re gonna geek out, GEEK HARD!