Comic-Con 2013: Review: Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox

Fans of DC’s original animated movies know the drill: Superman, Batman and Justice League have had multiple films. But few other DC heroes get their chance. Wonder Woman has had one movie, while Green Lantern has had two animated films. And that’s it… until now.

This film may be called Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox, but it’s clearly a Flash movie and it follows The Flash aka Barry Allen (Justin Chambers) all the way through. The opening moments of the film are actually the best part, as Flash takes on his Rogue’s gallery and Professor Zoom, the Reverse-Flash (C. Thomas Howell) before getting an assist from the Justice League. The film wisely reuses several actors (including Kevin Conroy as Bruce Wayne/Batman) from previous DC animated projects to give this Justice League a sense of familiarity.

The story is based upon Flashpoint, a miniseries by Geoff Johns and Andy Kubert that led directly to the New 52. Part of the reason that Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox works better than its source material is that it doesn’t have the baggage of completely rebooting the continuity of everything that came before it. Although some last second costume changes and an end credits teaser scene suggest that some time-changing has occurred.

After the teaser, Barry Allen finds himself in a world where his murdered mother is still alive. But the bad news is that Barry is no longer with his girlfriend, Iris and he isn’t even the Flash. This world is also on the brink of an apocalyptic war between Aquaman’s (Cary Elwes) Atlantis and Wonder Woman’s (Vanessa Marshall) Amazons… and there is no Superman.

The Batman (Kevin McKidd) of this world is also incredibly violent and willing to kill. One of Batman’s kills may actually be the most violent act ever performed by a hero in a DC film… and most of its competition for that title is in this film! Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox pushes its content really far as the heroes in this alternate world attack, maim and kill each other. But it’s the action itself that really shines. The animation work is stunning and exciting to watch. The depiction of the Flash’s powers during his climactic speed battle should serve as a template for all future adaptations of the character.

However, Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox falters when it comes to creating emotional resonance. The movie seems to be in such a hurry to get back to the action that potentially powerful moments are quickly over before they can deliver the intended result. It makes the film feel like the cliffsnotes version of a longer movie. Some potentially interesting ideas about who the Joker is in this world are almost completely glossed over and at least one major plot point is dropped regarding the fate of Barry Allen’s mother.

A few of the side characters receive decent subplots, particularly Dana Delaney’s Lois Lane, who is a reluctant resistance fighter embedded among the Amazons. Nathan Fillion also has a great turn as both Green Lantern and a powerless Hal Jordan, who makes a memorable reappearance in the Flashpoint world. 

Not every reinvention works in this story, as the Shazam kids were unspeakably stupid and the Superman (Sam Daly) who finally shows up is neither interesting nor important to the overall story despite the time taken to set up how Clark Kent never lived a normal life in this world.

As a film, Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox is worth watching for the animation and strong vocal performances. It may be among DC’s best animated features, but it still falls short of being a great movie.


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