In an alternate DC Universe, Joker and Harley Quinn decide to have some fun in Metropolis, at Superman’s expense. They kill Lois Lane, Jimmy Olsen, and Superman’s unborn child that Lane is carrying, before devastating the entirety of Metropolis. Superman loses his temper and kills Joker, before announcing to the world that evil and injustice will no longer be tolerated, instituting martial law. This is the latest DC Animated film, Injustice.
Justin Hartley (Superman) and Anson Mount (Batman) lead the vocal cast with Janet Varney as Wonder Woman, Brandon Micheal Hall as Cyborg, Kevin Pollak as Joker & Jonathan Kent, and a host of others voicing villains like Victor Zsasz, Killer Croc, and Ra’s al Ghul or heroes like Green Arrow, Nightwing, Green Lanter, and Captain Atom.
Based on the video game Injustice: Gods Among Us (and the subsequent graphic novel by horror writer Tom Taylor), this is a game-changing storyline along the lines of Marvel’s Civil War. What are the repercussions for letting criminals walk? Who gets to decide when enough is enough? How big of a body count will heroes (and societies) tolerate before initiating the death penalty?
I honestly cannot stand the storyline. Zac Snyder’s moment, when Superman snaps Zod’s neck to protect the innocent bystanders in Man of Steel, is troubling but logical. This storyline implies that Superman has never been pushed this hard, never seen this level of pain or grief. There are other storylines that pushed him to the brink, and he never snapped like this. It’s also troubling that it’s initially the non-humans who cross the line (Superman, Wonder Woman). It’s dancing into an “angry god” motif that I’ve seen worn out from the Old Testament readings.
Injustice is shocking, horrific even as the animation has never looked better. But it also asks us to consider how we handle grief, and how far we could be pushed before we would lose sight of who we were. This is clearly a breaking point for Superman and it has tragic ramifications. It’s a question of justice – one often asked of God – “why do you let bad things happen?” The reality is, as the storyline continues to play out, is who is an arbiter of justice who is really just themselves, and where do you draw the line? Once you step across the line, there’s no going back.
Special features include “Injustice: Crisis and Conflict” and “Adventures in Storytelling,” alongside animated Justice League episodes, “Injustice for All Parts 1 & 2.”