Every once in a while, something comes along that defines a generation. The DC Animated Universe is one such thing. Beginning with Batman: The Animated Series (1992-1995) and ultimately culminating with Justice League: Unlimited (2004-2006). The DC Animated Universe, or DCAU as it is commonly referred to, is a series of animated shows that share a common continuity. For fourteen years, people have watched the exploits of their favorite heroes from the comfort of their homes. Fourteen years of continuity; that’s something even the MCU has yet to top. (Though they most likely will. Give it a few more years.) Justice League vs The Fatal Five (2019) is a celebration of the DCAU, bridging the gap between the old and the new. And what a celebration it is.
The film does several things at once and all of them brilliantly. Broadly, it is a tale of the Justice League vs their latest foe. But the film contains much deeper layers of intrigue. We see the introduction of a new green lantern, the showcase of a much beloved team from the year 3000, and the return of one of our favorite martians.
Of particular note is the portrayal of the newest green lantern, Limelight. A woman traumatized by the death of her friends. Her rejection of the powers given to her are both realistic and heartfelt; we really feel her pain. When we see her struggle to get out of bed it evokes images within us of our own dark days. The story is as much about her as it is everyone else. She serves as the connective tissue between all the characters. One of those such characters is probably the most important to the story, even if he does not know it.
Starboy hails from the 31st century, which is under the protection of The Legion of Super-Heroes. An interplanetary team of heroes that our friend Starboy is a part of. Through some shenanigans with time, Starboy finds himself transported to our current time. Unable to access the medicine he needs to stay lucid, Starboy quickly loses his memory and is transported to Arkham Asylum. His connection to Limelight proves to be the key to solve the issue at hand.
By themselves these characters would make for a thoroughly enjoyable story. Thankfully, the film makers upped the ante and brought in another character. One who has been featured on another popular DC animated show. I am referring to Miss Martian.
While Miss Martian is a mainstay on the popular show Young Justice (2010-current) she has never appeared in the DCAU. This is due largely to her first appearance in Teen Titans Volume 3 #37 (2006), occurring after Justice League: Unlimited had already wrapped. Thus, her appearance is not only welcome but adds a fresh to face to the familiar line-up.
Beyond the story and its characters, the animation itself is extremely well done. The action is clear and understandable. The characters move in a fluid manner. The film perfectly emulates the style of Justice League while at the same time adding in bits of tasteful violence that would never have been allowed on network television. A pool of blood here, a connected punch there, there is a heightened level of violence but remarkably the creators showed restraint. That is in my mind something to be commended.
While the animation is indeed great, it’s just half of the equation. Thankfully, the voices and sound are more than up to the task. Returning to their roles are series main stays such as Kevin Conroy, Susan Eisenberg, and George Newbern as the Trinity of Batman, Wonder Woman, and Superman, respectively. All three do a great job as usual. Though, I would like to give a special highlight to Diane Guerrero who played the character of Limelight. Her performance was so profound. I could feel the pain and the hesitation in her dialogue. She is truly the MVP of this movie.
DC’s Animated movies have always been of a high standard. This film not only meets it but exceeds it in nearly every regard. If you have a chance to see it I strongly advise you to do so. You will not regret it.