[Review] - Justice League: Doom - "You're All Damned Fools"

Picture courtesy of DC/Warner Bros.

During his time on Justice League, and Justice League Unlimited, Dwayne McDuffie proved that he knew how to write for that group of characters better then pretty much anyone else who had taken shot. When news of his death last year circulated, fans of his work recognized that they had lost not just a great writer, but an entire world of possible stories he would never get a chance to create.

Then we found out about Doom.

Loosely adapted (very loosely. Like old elastic pants waist band from before you went on Jenny Craig loose) from the Tower of Babel comic arc, this was McDuffie's final (as far as we know) completed script, and was immediately given the star treatment. Given priority in the DC Animation line up, animated by the same studio that did McDuffie's previous outing, Crisis on Two Earths, so well, and cast with the best actors to ever inhabit the roles, which not so coincidentally were the same actors who played them for years on the series.

For the rest of the review, hit the jump.

Any comparisons with the series are unfair, as nothing can live up to that level of quality, especially not in seventy six minutes. It can only ccompare to Crisis, and it falls short. And even that's not fair, as Crisis was originally written to be part of the series, and thus was written at a time when McDuffie was at his creative best. 

It does, however, work well as a sequel to Crisis, and I'm putting in my vote for more DC Animation stories set in this particular universe. The animation, which took some getting used to, has grown on me, and I'm now actually interested to see what other DC characters would look like designed in this style. Two amendments; one, it must continue to feature the series cast, and two, they must continue to be original stories, not adaptations like all the others. I know I said at the start this too was an adaptation, but really it only borrows a single plot point, and nothing else.

The plot, you say? OK, sure. Vandal Savage, eternal caveman (and recent devourer of dinosaurs in the comics) has developed a plot to destroy the world, by making all of Bad Astronomer Phil Plait's worst dreams come true. To succeed though, he must make certain the Justice League do not stand in his way. He gathers together a cadre of villains, each with a grudge against a specific member. Using detailed information about their weaknesses, the Legion of Doom is able to incapacitate the entire league. Where did he get this information? From Batman's private files.

There are some problems here. The movie is short, at an hour and a quarter. Most of it is spent watching the heroes get their assess individually handed to them. Once they recover, the resolution comes too fast, with very little leg work, thanks to Batman. In fact, Batman is the only one who does anything here of note, in that he both causes and solves the problem. I felt they could have padded out the League tracking down the Legion, instead of jumping almost immediately into another action piece. Crisis actually devoted time to the villains, we got to know who they were as characters, not just what their intentions were. That's what made Nite Owl such an effective villain, we understood him. Here, Savage is just a Bond villain with an increased budget, and the henchmen are just in it for the money.

The villains too, are a problem. They are B-list at best, excluding one whom I had never heard of before. Even Savage is not often thought of as a primary villain. Only Bane stands out, undoubtedly more so now because of his future appearance in The Dark Knight Rises. Because of the lack of notable villains, I suppose the idea was to feel the impact of the League being taken out so quickly more so. What it actually felt like was cheap, like they couldn't afford the appearance fees of the A-List villains. Like the guest who appear on the third late night talk show of the evening, or the old days of the Bat embargo on Justice League itself.

Some plot hole issues too. How did Mirror Master get in the batmobile without setting off the alarm, even if it was just a hologram, we are show that the car opens and closes for him in this form. How did Savage know that Batman kept files on the rest of the League? I mean, he could have guessed that anyone as smart as Batman would do something like that (a point Batman himself makes), but it's a pretty big if. While we're on the topic, how did Savage know that Bruce Wayne is Batman. I get that he's meant to be a genius, but it is never explained. Nor are the implications of Bane knowing Batman's identity, though it does lead to a moment of Bruce Kill Billing his way out of a coffin using a key taken from the corpse of his father.

The worst plot hole though, or at least the one that completely took me out of the action, occurred at the end. A solar flare erupts from the sun, Superman flying nearby. He turns to head for Earth. Arriving, he informs Green Lantern that they have about eight minutes to stop it. Now, science tells us that, at the speed of light, it takes an object about eight and a half minutes to reach the Earth from the sun. Superman made it in about thirty seconds. That implies that he was travelling at multiple times the speed of light, and I'm sorry, but even in the world of comics, where we have within this film a character that travels through mirrors, that is ridiculous.

Luckily the movie overcomes most of these (in this film review, we obey the laws of general relativity, dammit) by being generally excellent, and most of that is down to the cast. Kevin Conroy is welcome to play Batman in everything, forever, should he wish. Tim Daly, Susan Eisenberg, and Michael Rosenbaum are all well at home playing characters they could probably play in their sleep, although (nick pick) Rosenbaum is actually playing Barry Allen here, not Wally West, as is his usual role. Nathan Fillion is new to the cast, though not new to the role of Green Lantern, having voiced him once before, and again is far better then Ryan Reynolds could hope to be. The newest member of the team is Cyborg, added possibly because of his increased role in the comics. He fairs well, though we lack the emotional connection to him as a Leaguer, compared to fans of the Titans.

An interesting note. Once, during the fight between Martian Manhunter and his opposite number, the shapeshifting reminded me of Ben 10. This was intentional, a tribute to McDuffe's time writing for that program. That, and a dedication at the end, mark the swan song of the writer quiet nicely, whose presence in this universe, and ours, will be missed.
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About MR. Clark

Adopting the descriptor of "successfully unpublished author", MR. Clark began writing things on the internet in 2012, which he believed to be an entirely reputable and civilized place to find and deliver information. He regrets much.


  1. one more plot whole, why does the batmobile have a rear view mirror? He doesnt have rear windows