Justice League: The New Frontier (2008)

June 15, 2008 § Leave a comment

Justice League: The New Frontier is the second in a series of stand-alone animated films (the first was Superman: Doomsday), and is a direct to video adaptation of the New Frontier comic by award winning writer and artist Darwyn Cooke, who was involved with this film as one of the writers and producers. Producer Bruce Timm was involved (the man behind the Justice League TV series) but this is a very different effort.

Set in the 1950s, the story features the origins of the Justice League heroes during an optimistic but still troubled time, with acknowledgments of the civil rights movement and paranoia about communism. We follow the origin story of Hal Jordan as Green Lantern as well as the Martian Manhunter, though Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, and Flash are also prominently featured. And of course, we get their formation as a team for the first time against a threat too great for anything but a combined effort.

Cooke is a fan of the “Silver Age” of comics, and there are a few more obscure comic characters making brief appearances too. As far as the main cast, it’s Kyle MacLachlan (Twin Peaks) as Superman, Jeremy Sisto (Six Feet Under) as Batman, Lucy Lawless (Xena) as Wonder Woman, Neil Patrick Harris (Doogie Howser) as The Flash and David Boreanaz (Angel) as Green Lantern. The voice work is terrific, and even though Batman isn’t in much of the film, Jeremy Sisto makes a huge new impression. The animation ranges from excellent to outstanding, and I think the retro montage created for the opening credits is worth the price of admission alone.

It should be noted this isn’t for very young children. There’s an opening where an unknown character finishes writing a book about the malevolent force, and then shoots himself in the head. None of the bloodshed is terribly graphic, but it’s there so the film is rated PG-13 for violence. Personally, I’m glad to see animation being produced for adults, and I think it’s a great idea to adapt completely different comics and graphic novels into animated films, giving us different perspectives on these timeless characters. This is a sincere effort to make a worthwhile film, and I hope it finds some support out there.

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