As a bit of warning, I never played the “Injustice” video game series, nor have I ever read any of the comic books or spin offs. I’m vaguely aware of what the general premise is of “Injustice,” but that’s as far as it goes for me. Considering I was excited about it being adapted in to an animated movie, when the dust settled, I’m very disappointed by what we’re ultimately offered. What is it about DC and Warner unwilling to make a movie that’s longer than eighty minutes? It can’t possibly be for the child audience, as “Injustice” is as gory an Elseworlds tale that I’ve ever seen.
On an alternate Earth, the Joker decides to target Superman, and with the help of Scarecrow’s gas tricks the man of steel into killing Lois Lane (also pregnant with his child), which sends the hero on a path of destruction. This includes murdering the Joker in cold blood. Superman decides to take control of Earth with the help of a few of his Justice League allies including Wonder Woman and Cyborg, and now it’s up to Batman and his army of resistors including Catwoman, Harley Quinn, and Plastic Man to try to find a way to stop him before he conquers Earth once and for all.
“Injustice” crams in so much storyline in to eighty minutes that the movie never really progresses as it does jump from one story beat to another. It’s by no means the worst of the DC/Warner animated outputs, but it’s beaming with potential that it never fulfills at all. There’s no exploration of right and wrong, and the differing morality codes of Batman and Superman. There’s no analysis of the idea of the ends justifying the means, and the idea of Superman descending in to madness begins suddenly and ends abruptly. One minute he shoves his hand through the Joker’s stomach, and then later on he stops everything because an alternate dimension Lois lays a huge guilt trip on him.
There’s no sense of epic scale, or high stakes, it’s just a lot of looks at Superman turning in to a violent despot, and never really confronting why. He’s clearly a man incapable of processing his role in accidentally murdering Lois, and it’s never actually discussed at all. He never even faces his own undoing, save for a clunky moment involving his father and a kryptonite arrow. Everyone just kind of runs around fighting, and never actually allows us to soak in a lot of what’s unfolding. There’s so much that could be accomplished with the idea of Superman finally deciding he’s going to take control of Earth whether we like it or not.
But it’s all missing in favor of some gore and goofy plot twists. So Shazam merely leaves the whole shebang without at least standing up to Superman once? You’re telling me Superman frightened Hal Jordan enough to just keep him from becoming Green Lantern and rounding up his Emerald army? What happened to the Flash? And how long did Superman and Wonder Woman rule the world? Sometimes it feels like it took a matter of months, and other times it’s implied that it took years. What was even the point of Deadwing? “Injustice” is just an okay distraction if you absolutely have nothing else to watch, but as an adaptation I couldn’t help but feel like DC/Warner could have injected so much more rather than half ass it to the finish line.
Along with the 4K and Blu-Ray disc, the release includes Adventures in Storytelling – Injustice: Crisis and Conflict, a thirty minutes roundtable with producer Jim Krieg, director Matt Peters, producer Rick Morales, and screenwriter Ernie Altbacker, all of whom discuss the main feature’s adaptation and development. There are also plenty of panels from the original comics featured. Finally, there’s the classic From the DC Vault, two vintage animated Justice League episodes “Injustice” Parts One and Two, all of which first aired in 2002. They’re not at all adaptations of “Injustice,” but bear very similar plots involving an Elseworlds tale centering on a corrupt Superman and Justice League. It’s better than the feature, to be honest.