Whatever happened to the lone wolf, the maverick, the solo superhero who could save the world without getting all co-dependent about it?
The Cartoon Network’s new Justice League (premieres Saturday, Nov. 17, in 90-minute movie form; regular timeslot Mondays thereafter) finds venerable loner Superman assembling a team of fellow evil-fightin’ superheroes because, apparently, the Man of Steel just can’t multitask anymore.
To be fair, Superman does have a lot on his plate at the outset of Justice League, a far superior animated successor to the rather embarrassing Super Friends series of the ’70s and ’80s. The UN-like World Assembly, striving for nuclear disarmament as dirty hippie peaceniks protest outside, votes to put Superman in charge of … the … entire … planet. No more wars! Everyone will just get along! Uh-huh.
No sooner than you can ask yourself “Does handing over the fate of the human race to a mysterious non-Earthling who can’t even color-coordinate really make sense?” Superman has taken apart nearly every nuclear warhead in existence between international watchdog shifts and power yoga classes. And the populace, who don’t seem to mind never having had a say in the matter, are feeling a warm fuzziness previously thought to have biodegraded with ’90s lefty-globalist cartoon superhero Captain Planet.
Like all liberal agendas, this Prozac peace plan goes south when someone shows up at the commune with a big ol’ gun—namely, evil aliens bent on the enslavement and eventual annihilation of Earth (like Carson Daly, just more up front with their intentions). After a nasty encounter with the beings, Batman, always the lone voice of healthy dissention in the ranks, begrudgingly agrees to team up with the “overwhelmed” Superman even though he sees him as just a bulging boy scout. “Another key to the city?” Batman remarks sarcastically as Superman speeds off to Metropolis for an appointment—ha!
The Green Lantern (hard-nosed military type with a super-powered mood ring), Wonder Woman (hottie warrior princess with a magic rope and even-more-magic tube top), The Flash (the Fastest Man on Earth, which may explain why Wonder Woman ignores his advances), Hawkgirl (she flies and squawks a lot) and Martian Manhunter (last of the Mars race; checks into hotels under the name J’onn J’onzz) also join the fray. After the gang beat back the invaders, Superman proposes they stick together (“What, like a bunch of super friends?” cracks The Flash), thus the Justice League is born. Since every other available superhero on Earth was out clubbing and ignoring their pagers during the alien threat, they’ll be stuck on the expansion team.
Strangely enough, TBS’ Invincible (premieres Sunday, Nov. 18)—also about the assembling of a disparate group of superheroes to save the world from impending evil—doesn’t take itself as deadly serious as the cartoon Justice League. The aforementioned quotes are pretty much the only examples of humor in JL, and it’s letterboxed! A cartoon in letterbox! This pretentious “widescreen” practice must stop! If you’re making something for TV, make it to fit the fuggin’ TV screen!
OK, rant’s over … for now.
Usually, the phrase “TBS Superstation Original Movie” is greeted with the same sigh of trepidation as “now with real rodent flavor” and “presented in widescreen,” and Invincible has another strike against it in the form of “starring Billy Zane.” The potential for unyielding suckage is considerable, but this martial-arts action flick actually delivers—it’s all reheated chop-socky leftovers from Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Highlander and The Matrix, but it delivers.
Zane is Os, an immortal rogue with a bad Matchbox Twenty haircut who sees the light after getting his ass handed to him in a battle with the White Warrior. After she sends him down the path of good, he shaves his head, develops a penchant for dry narration and assembles a motley crew of “chosen ones” to take on the Shadowmen, a surly band of dark angels who must destroy Earth to escape it. Plenty of mystical mumbo-jumbo ensues, but the special effects and deadly kung-fu action (in all its black-leather-trenchcoat-flapping grandeur) are as spectacular as Zane is, well, Zane.
And it didn’t require letterboxing! “Widescreen” is the biggest crock of … never mind. That battle is coming …