I have been really pleased by the DC Universe Animated Original Movies that have been rolling out since 2007. These films — mostly inspired by the comics books — have been a collaboration between Warner Premier, Warner Bros. Animation and DC Comics. They have all been a real treat for me and I have anxiously looked forward to each new installment as it is released. So far, we have been treated to 13 direct-to-video movies with two more already in the works.
With all this success and so many to pick from, it felt right to write an article where I sort out my top five favorites. I am sure not everyone will agree with my choices, but I will try to explain why I felt this way about each and why I felt it deserved the spot I gave it.
In case you can’t recall all 13 movies, I have listed them below:
1. “Superman: Doomsday”
2. “Justice League: The New Frontier”
3. “Batman: Gotham Knight”
4. “Wonder Woman”
5. “Green Lantern: First Flight”
6. “Superman/Batman: Public Enemies”
7. “Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths”
8. “Batman: Under the Red Hood”
9. “Superman/Batman: Apocalypse”
10. “All-Star Superman”
11. “Green Lantern: Emerald Knights”
12. “Batman: Year One”
13. “Justice League: Doom”
So without further ado, here are my top five DC Universe Animated Movies:
5. “Superman/Batman: Public Enemies”
This is the second highest grossing film of the series, and it is easy to understand why the fandom was so excited for this one and gave it such a huge reception. The first reason I felt it was so good and well received was the incredible casting of voice talents as Tim Daly and Kevin Conroy reprised their voice roles of Superman and Batman — roles which they have solidified as their own in the minds of animated movie fans.
The film also features the voice talents of Xander Berkeley (“24”) as Captain Atom, LeVar Burton (“Star Trek: The Next Generation”) as Black Lightning, and Allison Mack (“Smallville”)as Power Girl. This is a phenomenal cast in my opinion, and I felt it was part of what got the fans running to the stores to pick up a copy.
Of course, the story is also one of fan interest, since it brings the most popular superheroes together as they are on the run.
“President Lex Luthor uses the oncoming trajectory of a Kryptonite asteroid to frame Superman for the pending destruction of the planet and declares a $1 billion bounty on the heads of the Man of Steel and his ‘partner in crime,’ Batman. Superheroes and super villains alike launch a relentless pursuit of Superman and Batman, who must unite to stave off the action-packed onslaught, stop the asteroid, and uncover Luthor’s devious plot.”
There is no way this won’t attract the fan masses. I was definitely impressed and highly enjoyed the battles and non-stop action.
4. “Green Lantern: First Flight”
I remember my breath being taken by this animated movie — something that did not happen when I watched the live-action version from 2011 starring Ryan Reynolds.
Both movies present an origin story, and both pretty much follow the same idea, but where they separate drastically is in the character development and interaction.
In the animated 2009 movie, “Pilot Hal Jordan (Christopher Meloni) accepts a mysterious, powerful ring from a dying alien creature, it transforms him into a Green Lantern — one of an elite force of heroes. These heroes patrol the universe to ensure peace and justice under the leadership of the Guardians of the Universe. Unsure of their newest recruit, the Guardians assign Hal to their most-honored Green Lantern Sinestro (Victor Garber) for training, unaware that Sinestro wants to overthrow the Guardians and create a new order he’ll control. It’s a battle of might and willpower as Hall must prove his worth by defeating Sinestro to save the Green Lantern Corps.”
The interaction between Hal and Sinestro, as well as his other Lantern friends, is much deeper and richer than in the live-action version. They help each other and develop and actual bond, to the point you just don’t see how Sinestro can ever be a villain.
I also was highly impressed by the art in this film. I don’t have any idea how they can put such glorious artwork together in such short periods of time, but I truly felt it paid off and the results speaks for itself. This turned out to be one of the best movies of the whole series — action-packed, fun and with an actual lesson of loyalty and story to tell.
3. “Wonder Woman”
Now, I’ve said this in my other movie reviews, but it is possible no other animated movie impressed me more than “Wonder Woman.” This one, released in 2009, really blew me away. And like the other movies I already mentioned, it exhibited beautiful art, had great voice talents and a wonderful story. Also, if you haven’t watched it, it is perhaps the most action-packed animated movie of all.
With the tagline “Courageous Princess. Fierce Warrior. Legendary Superhero,” the movie went on to showcase the female superhero as we had never seen her before. They cast the wonderful actress Keri Russell (“Felicity,” “Mission: Impossible III”) to voice the lead character and her sexy, confident voice was the perfect choice for Wonder Woman.
“A modern man’s trespass of the island of the Amazons enables an imprisoned war god to escape and Princess Diana wins the responsibility to recapture him.”
Such a short plot description doesn’t begin to describe this amazing and solid story. It has it all: great friendships, love between mother and daughter, love between man and woman, loyalty, betrayal, action.
As I mentioned before, the movie is action packed, and I guess it just caught me by surprise, or maybe I had forgotten, but Wonder Woman can definitely kick butt.
The movie also includes the voice talents of Nathan Fillion, Oliver Platt, and Rosario Dawson. Need I say more?
This is a wonderful origin story and one of my most favorite movies of the bunch. I highly recommend it to everyone.
2. “Batman: Under the Red Hood”
This is probably the strongest movie — in every sense of the word — by DC Universe. It has a dark and personal plot for the character of Batman. It is not in any way watered down for the kiddies. This is a movie worthy of going up against any live-action Batman movie in existence. It is well written, well performed and it has the action and the surprises you want out of any movie you sit down to watch, but would never expect from an animated movie. This is a masterpiece in my opinion and may just as well be my No. 1 choice. This movie makes it hard for me to defend my top choice, but I will definitely try to express my thoughts to you all.
“Batman (Bruce Greenwood) faces his ultimate challenge as the mysterious Red Hood (Jensen Ackles) takes Gotham City by firestorm. One part vigilante, one part criminal kingpin, Red Hood begins cleaning up Gotham with the efficiency of Batman, but without following the same ethical code. Killing is an option. And when the Joker (Wade Williams) falls in the balance between the two, hard truths are revealed and old wounds are reopened.”
Yes, it’s the age-old controversy about vigilantism and their ethical code of murder. It’s a story that was told in the comics but was meant to be seen in animated action, heck I would love a live-action of this story as well. There is not much missing for any animated movie fan. There is not much more you can ask for if you are a Batman fan.
The movie has some serious voice acting talents like Bruce Greenwood and Jensen Ackles, but also includes Jason Isaacs and Neil Patrick Harris (as Nightwing).
All in all, we got one of the most solid animated movies created for DVD, and proof that these movies can be of the utmost quality.
1. “Superman/Batman: Apocalypse”
Since I first watched this movie, my appreciation has not declined, but instead has grown deeper. “Superman/Batman: Apocalypse” kept me captivated and interested from the beginning to end. I never saw eye to eye with the reviews from other critics who seemed to dislike it profoundly. I, on the other hand, saw richness in this movie that I felt the others lacked.
I enjoyed everything from the arrival of Kara/ Supergirl (Summer Glau) and how she quickly starts realizing she now has super-powers in this unknown world in which she had just arrived, to the relationship between Batman and Superman. There was a respect between them that I had only read about in the comic books but had not seen in any of the animated feature films.
Wonder Woman (Susan Eisenburg), although voiced by a different actress, is the same Wonder Woman from the 2009 movie which I had loved so much. She takes the Justice League –and us – back to her home world of Themyscira, where epic battles are fought that include legions of Doomsdays. A main character dies and Superman is interpreted in this movie as a leader, and given the respect from the rest of the team, even Batman. What more can I say? This is a lot.
Tim Daly and Kevin Conroy are once again Superman and Batman, and although multiple other Justice Leaguers are here, this is their movie, and it shows.
The art is perhaps my favorite subject matter of all. And since this is an animated movie, that blew me away. The art of Superman is my favorite of all the interpretation to date, and Batman has never looked cooler. The movements and action flowed in a way that seemed like a movie filmed with much less time constraint. From the opening sequences of Batman scuba diving, to Supergirl bobbing around as she discovered she was floating, these are details that cannot be overlooked.
But, the movie is called Apocalypse, and although some critics feel there wasn’t enough Darkseid in it, I argue that it was wise to save the best for last. After battles have been fought and good has prevailed, the heroes are going back home and Clark is taking Kara to Smallville, so she can begin a normal life. And that’s when the very, very angry Darkseid shows up, and what happens is the greatest DC animated battle to date, in my opinion.
Here we have the only two people on Earth who can actually face Darkseid, and they have the open fields of Smallville to battle it out. But Darkseid will wreak havoc on them and gives them – and us – an explosive bombardment of punches, lunges, slams and earthquake-mighty impacts.
Literally, this is all I ever expect from a comic-book based movie. If you have not watched it, I recommend you do with an open mind, and you will perhaps see what I saw, the most exciting Superman and Batman adventure.
Feel free to list your five favorites in the comments section to the right. And if you missed any of these, just click the movie’s title in gold for a link to the film at Amazon.
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