Ah, Injustice. Will you never cease to haunt me?
I absolutely LOVED this game back in 2013. I mean, a fighting game where I can play as Green Lantern, Superman, and all my other DC favorites that WASN’T Mortal Kombat vs DC Universe?!?!? Absolutely insane. I still remember getting home from the summer camp where I had read (read: gawked at the pictures of) the Game Informer article about the game and begging my parents to buy it for me. I remember sitting down in front of my Xbox 360, tearing the plastic seal to shreds, and starting up the game, completely engrossed in this new and unique story. “Wow,” my 14 year old brain said, “What IF Superman was evil? What a cool and fun one-off idea that I’m sure won’t spark nearly a decade of disaster in the cultural zeitgeist.”
Fool that I was.
Anyway, they made a movie 8 years later, and now I have to suffer for it.
Okay. MAYBE I’m being a little too harsh, and MAYBE I had a fun time reading the Injustice comics (despite their flaws), and MAYBE I still play IJ2 from time to time… But that doesn’t lessen my absolute loathing for this series’ cultural impact. However, in the spirit of good faith criticism, I’m going to do my best to avoid complaining about the “We’re just one dead Lois away from Superman being Superhitler” trope from here on out. I just felt it was necessary to bring this up for you guys to factor into my viewpoint here.
Do I need to prep for this movie?
Not really! Unless you feel like reading the comics or playing the story mode of a game from 2013, you don’t need to do anything to get this movie. I would still recommend doing both of those things instead, as their versions of these events are much better. I’ll get to that in a second, but the important part is that you’re all good to come into this blind!
The Actual Film
For the uninitiated, 2021’s Injustice is a fairly okay introduction to the idea of the greater Injustice universe. It technically covers most of the main story beats, but I don’t feel comfortable saying that movie-only people will get the gist of the story’s events. So much is changed here that, not only are the story and ending wildly different than both the comics and the game, but the overall narrative suffers drastically for it. For conciseness’ sake, I’ll include a short list of things that were changed/skipped/cut entirely.
- Lex Luthor, the Resistance’s superstar superspy, is nowhere to be seen.
- The Super-pill doesn’t exist, so Batman, Green Arrow, Harley, etc. don’t stand a single chance.
- Shazam, Green Lantern, and Aquaman just kind of disappear after quitting the JL. There’s no GL liberation attempt, magic hero uprising, or anything else.
- The Flash also disappears, we don’t see his emotional conflict.
- Mr. Terrific’s T-Spheres take the place of Superman’s regime soldiers.
- The Regime doesn’t really even exist? It’s just kind of Superman being generally evil.
- All of the nuance and time is gone from Superman’s descent into madness, making the timeline feel weirdly sudden.
- Wonder Woman’s nuance is gone, she goes from being a genocidal warlord to having a change of heart in the span of what feels like maybe a year?
- On that note, I’m not sure how much time actually passed during the movie. It’s never communicated.
- The climactic final encounter is both sides team up to fight Amazo????
- The only hero from the main earth to show up is Superman, who kicks IJ Supes around for like 5 minutes before the fight is over.
- An alternate Earth’s pregnant Lois Lane shows up and… makes Superman… feel bad? So he stops?
- And more
Get it? He’s sad AND evil, so he has stubble!
Even with all these changes, the story we do get isn’t satisfying either. Everything is a rushed mess with no sense of scale or time, characters are one note until the writer needs them to be a different note, at which point they do a complete 180 with no conflict with or mention of their previous behavior. Deaths that are supposed to be big and dramatic play out so over the top melodramatically that it’s laughable (No, really: my girlfriend was laughing so hard during one of the death scenes that she didn’t even notice when a second character she was attached to was killed immediately after. It’s the Fortress scene for anyone interested. Go watch it. It’s hilarious.). It’s a shame, especially when you consider what this movie could have been, thanks in large part to…
The Voice Cast
Everyone killed it in this movie. That’s it. Every single one. I was surprised by the choice to not cast the original actors from the game, but even more pleasantly surprised when everyone did well. Anson Mount and Justin Hartley brought some amazing chemistry to the roles of Batman and Superman. Laura Bailey was absolutely wonderful as Lois Lane as well, very much capturing both the quick-witted reporter and the loving wife and mother. A personal standout for me was Brian T. Delaney as Hal Jordan; he’s someone I’d very much like to see in the role again. Even Gillian Jacobs, though she’s very clearly trying to adhere to the Tara Strong-set precedent, holds her own as Harley Quinn. In short: great performances all around. There’s really nothing else to say–
OH GOD, TAKE IT AWAY
Okay. I MAY have neglected to mention just how awful this Joker performance is. Kevin Pollak is very clearly trying to imitate Mark Hamill’s Joker, but he just doesn’t have the chops for that kind of voice. He’s a talented impressionist otherwise, but his attempts at a Hamill culminate in a whispery, stilted Joker who, when combined with some questionable dialogue, comes off more wacky than terrifying.
But what about the rest of the movie? The score? The animation?
The soundtrack is nothing special, it serves its purpose. Every scene is scored relatively appropriately, if a little over the top. There are a few moments where Superman will do something evil, and then “THIS IS EVIL, DO YOU GET IT?” music will kick in. It doesn’t necessarily detract from the movie (though it’d be hard to do that anyway), but it doesn’t do any favors, either. The animation is about the same, kind of standard for what you’d expect from a DC film these days. I don’t recall any single moment where I was particularly impressed, but there were a few nice touches in the art.
Most of the backgrounds are pretty damn good recreations of Injustice’s fighting arenas. Arkham Asylum, the Watchtower, and even the Fortress of Solitude all look like they were ripped straight from the game. The costumes seem very inspired by the comics as well, with everyone staying in their Year One outfits.
I’m getting a little nitpicky here, but hey, it’s my review, I make the rules (as long as my boss is okay with those rules).
I’ve always found it a little disappointing that the “Injustice Earth” designs weren’t as prevalent in the comics, and I was hoping to see them in this movie, especially with how far into the story it tries to cover. It’s not a big deal, and everyone looks good (even with Superman’s Elvis sideburns).
Seriously, I know it’s the shading on his cheekbones, but come ON.
All in all, the production is fine. Mediocre at worst. You’ll have definitely watched a movie, that’s for sure.
Okay, so, is it worth it?
In a word, no. You’re going to be shilling out $20-25 for a mangled version of a story that was written to justify why all your favorite superheroes were punching each other. Between the lackluster movie and the honestly disappointing special features (none of which come with the digital release), you’re better off waiting for the bargain bin on this one. I can’t recommend in good faith buying this unless you REALLY have to know what’s on the disc. And, obviously, this isn’t a family flick, use your best judgement with kids. I can only hope this will finally kill the cultural obsession over this story once and for all.
Disclaimer: Batman News was provided a copy of the film by Warner Bros. for the purpose of this review.
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