Having been a big fan of Justice League and Justice League Unlimited, I knew I would enjoy this animated feature film, which was originally titled, Justice League: Worlds Collide, as bridge between the two series.
I particularly loved the Justice League story, “A Better World,” which featured the Justice Lords. Even though it is not directly related, it does feature evil versions of the Justice League.
According to the IGN review:
As every fan knows, the word “crisis” has a special meaning in the DC Universe. It conjures up images of epic, cross-world stories that have a lasting impact on the characters and continuity of entire franchises. So when fans see the title Crisis on Two Earths, there’s a reasonable expectation that the story will be epic and world-changing. While this direct-to-DVD animated title meets the first criteria quite masterfully, it is important to note that it is a standalone title, bearing no connection to any other existing Justice League storyline. Had it been produced as it was originally intended — to bridge the gap between the two TV series Justice League and Justice League Unlimited — it might have had more of an affect on the DC Universe as a whole. That said, it’s still fun and filled with a good balance of plot, action and humor that ought to win over even the most skeptical fan.
Those who want to see the seeds of that connection between Crisis and the television incarnations of the Justice League won’t have to look very hard. The character designs are similar, and although the lineup of heroes is slightly different, it begins with a small, core team working on the satellite that will eventually become the base of operations for a larger cast of characters. The main cast includes Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman, Flash, Martian Manhunter and Green Lantern (Hal Jordon, not John Stewart, as in the TV series). There are also cameos galore, including some characters we already know and their evil alter egos from a parallel world (who are fun to figure out if you know anything about the DC Universe).
To further distance this story from the others that have come before, there have been some voice cast changes as well. The new voices take some getting used to, and in some cases it’s tough to get over the image that goes along with the voice. But once the well-animated action kicks in, you’ll start to see Batman instead of William (“Billy”) Baldwin, Superman instead of Mark Harmon and Lex Luthor instead of Chris Noth. Not to be outdone, the villains also have some marquee names to their credits, with none other than James Woods providing the subtly sinister voice of alt-universe Batman, known in his world as Owl Man, and Gina Torres sounding at once seductive and strong as Super Woman, an evil counterpart to Wonder Woman.
Taking inspiration from the storylines of the comics — Crisis on Earth-Three and JLA: Earth 2 specifically — the movie finds the Justice League clashing with their evil counterparts in the Crime Syndicate after a desperate, alt-universe Lex Luthor arrives in our world to seek their help. In his own universe, he’s not only a hero, but the former leader of the Justice League, and its sole remaining member. With no one left to stop the Crime Syndicate, Lex fears that his world is doomed to fall into chaos. It takes some convincing, but eventually Superman (Harmon), Wonder Woman (Vanessa Marshall), Flash (Josh Keaton) and Martian Manhunter (Jonathan Adams) join up. So pretty much everyone except Batman (Baldwin) agrees to come and help him save his world.
The Crime Syndicate is run much like the mob (or at least how the mob is portrayed in movies and TV), with a handful of captains managing their own crews, consisting of legitimate super-powered criminals and “made men,” or underlings who are given powers in exchange for their loyalty and service. The upper echelon of villains includes Ultraman (alt-Superman), Owl Man (alt-Batman), Superwoman (alt-Wonder Woman) and Johnny Quick (alt-Flash). They have become so powerful that the authorities look the other way, but the standoff is quickly disintegrating and there are fewer and fewer individuals with the power or the will to stand up to them. When they acquire enough firepower to tip the balance, it’s up to the heroes of our world to stop them. But it’s not just their own world they’re out to destroy.
Wonder Woman director Lauren Montgomery teams up with Planet Hulk director Sam Liu, bringing the best of both of those projects (two of the best to come out of their respective company’s direct-to-DVD lines) to the screen. The animation is impressive, fluid and detailed, with a scale that seems to stretch far beyond the small screen. There’s a lot of action in this too, ranging from intimate one-on-one fights to major conflicts between dozens of characters. Both are handled equally well, and with a playful sense of humor that screenwriter Dwayne McDuffie (a former writer for theJustice League TV series) infuses in the film from the very first scene. There are also pop-culture references abound, from Air Force One to Star Wars to Watchmen.
Whether you’re a longtime comic-book reader, a fan of the television series or completely new to the Justice League franchise, there’s something in this for everyone.