One thing DC hasn’t been able to do in recent years is make a good superhero movie. However, their strength has come from their animation department, where they churn out TV series, and in the last decade or so, feature-length animated films, that are typically excellent.
The latest of these is called Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox. It focuses on one of the characters that doesn’t get a lot of attention, the Flash. I say he doesn’t get a lot of attention because, outside of DC’s holy triumvirate; Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman, hardly any characters get a lot of attention. The story comes from the Flashpoint event which directly led to DC’s New 52. In the comics, it occurred in a 5-issue mini-series, plus crossovers into Booster Gold and stand-alones involving Batman, Deathstroke, Hal Jordan and many, many more. Here, however, they have distilled the essence of the story down into a 90 minute package.
The story is simple. Reverse Flash has always hated Flash, he’s tried to kill him many times, this time he goes even farther, he not only wants to destroy Flash, he wants him to see that his own actions destroyed the world. Flash, on the other hand, has always been haunted by the death of his mother at the hands of a home-invasion robber. After being taunted one too many times about failing to save her, Barry uses the Speed Force and travels back in time to keep her from dying, waking up in an alternate reality where everything has gone wrong. He’s no longer the Flash, Thomas Wayne is Batman after Bruce was killed in that alley, Superman doesn’t exist and Aquaman and Wonder Woman are waging a genocidal war that threatens to destroy the world. On a positive note, I suppose, Barry’s mother is still alive. Millions of other people are not. With the world on the brink of destruction, Cyborg, this reality’s quintessential superhero, tries to organize the few remaining superheros into a fighting force, but without the organizational skills of Batman (who honestly doesn’t strike me as more than a self-loathing alcoholic), it’s all guaranteed to fail. Barry meets up with Bats and together they try to recreate the experiment that gave him his powers. They only fail once. However, there’s a drain on the Speed Force, Zoom is still around and Barry can’t run fast enough to change the timeline and it all comes down to the final battle between Aquaman and Wonder Woman and the world’s greatest remaining superheroes to determine the fate of humanity.
There’s a lot taken from the comics and, as might be expected, a lot that’s new. Of course, being in a 90-minute video format, a lot of comic material doesn’t make the translation, but that’s to be expected. It’s a very dark alternate future that’s definitely not for young kids, there’s plenty of blood and death and it earns it’s PG-13 rating. For the record, I typically don’t care for alternate universe storylines, mostly because you know going into it that by the end of the story, everything that you saw, every idea that ought to be explored, is going to get reset and all of those opportunities will be lost. There are so many ideas here that would make excellent stories in their own right, such as the story behind Superman, that we’ll never see in a video format. I would never want to spend a lot of time in this universe, but seeing more of it, especially how it differs from the usual DC universe, intrigues me somewhat.
One downfall though are the character designs. I suppose it’s personal preference, but I guess after you get used to the classic Bruce Timm designs, everything else looks odd and in this case, I just don’t think they were up to snuff. That’s not to say the animation wasn’t well done, just the designs could have been better.
If you enjoyed the Flashpoint comics, this is right up your alley, there’s enough new here to keep it fresh and enough familiar to make y0u smile. If you never read it, it’s still a good watch, the essence of the story distilled down into an easily watchable package. In either case, despite a few flaws, I give Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox a thumbs up.