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DC Bounces Back After ‘The Killing Joke’ with ‘Justice League Dark’!

The supernatural world invades DC Comics and it feels right at home. ‘Justice League Dark‘ is newest entry in the acclaimed series of DC Universe Animated Original Movies. It also follows the story and the characters established in ‘Justice League War‘.

After weak R-rated ‘Batman: The Killing Joke‘, this movie is like the darkest DC Animated Movie yet. Not only does ‘Justice League Dark‘ use the R-rating to its advantage but there’s no feeling that the creators are TRYING to be edgy. Everything comes off natural and never feels forced into being something its not. The addition of magic into this universe doesn’t throw off the storytelling, which is refreshing.

The Story:

Things get out of control for the Justice League once paranormal entities begin to run wild. None of them seem prepared for the newest threat so the team decides to call in some help. This help comes in the form of group of supernatural-based heroes with experience! Batman from the Justice League joins forces with Zatanna, Constantine, Swamp-Thing, and Deadman in hopes to stop the villain known as Destiny.

Like the rest of these DC Animated Movie Universe films, it’s based on a lot of New 52 continuity and stories but remains mostly original. This allows for less baggage as no one is waiting to breakdown the comic book adaptation. This allows artist create new material. I think this is missing from the DCEU films and Hollywood superhero films as a whole.

Bringing Horror To DC:

As a horror fan, it took me a while to find my place in the comic world. It wasn’t until I found characters like Swamp Thing and Constantine that I fell in love. Now seeing them brought to life in such a dark way, it’s a joy to horror and comic fans alike.

There’s supernatural elements filled with occult imagery and tinged with religions overtones. This coupled with jump scares and a few ghost and it almost feels like a new James Wan film. That’s not the only horror influence. The violence is appealing to gore-hounds. For any DC animated movie to be this bloody needs applauds. It pushes boundaries more than ever before but it works for these characters!

Seeing John Constantine is always good. After the sad cancellation of his NBC show, it was a joy to see him pop up on The CW’s ‘Arrow‘. But this is the type of Constantine that fans are craving! ‘Justice League Dark‘ brings the best out of him with the signature snark and his magic getting to shine in animated form. Same goes with seeing Swamp Thing. There’s only been one live-action version of the big green bad-ass so anytime this beloved DC iconic appears, you should be happy.

Using Batman as the bridge between the Justice League and Justice League Dark was smart. He’s the only non-horror DC character with the darkest story and world. This is played up in this film when he meets a group of grim reapers and he scares them off. Yes, Batman scares a group of grim reapers! That’s how scary this man this…

Justice League Dark

Stale Animation, Even Staler Dialogue

With all the compliments, there’s still some complaints.

This style of DC Animation has been stunning since they introduced in ‘Justice League War‘. But something about the way it comes across in ‘Justice League Dark‘ disappoints. In action, the characters look laughable. Each gets some amazing frames to show off the design but it seems like the animators had too much going on. They allowed new things like the magic to shine but the creatures in this film have seemingly recycled designs.

Speaking of recycled, this dialogue feels generic. Between the heavy exposition or the cheesy one-liners, some scenes were hard to get through. Especially the ones who involving a giant monster made out of shit. Yeah, whoever came up with that needs a stern talk. It was probably the same person writing the juvenile dialogue of Deadman. I’m not familiar with his character but I hope he doesn’t always come off this cringe-worthy.

Final Thoughts:

As a fan of horror and DC Animated movies, I really enjoyed this. The great in this film is enough to overlook the few glaring problems. Seeing Swamp Thing, Batman, and Constantine all work together is worth the viewing alone!

I recommend ‘Justice League Dark‘ for fans of DC Animation or lovers of horror needing to find a way into the comic book world.

Justice League Dark
Who is EJ Moreno? Is he a trained physician? No. Is he a former Miss Universe contestant? Possibly. With a bachelors degree in film and a love of pop culture, he brings an alternative view to the world of pop culture journalism. Follow him on Twitter @EJKhryst and check out his film work at
justice-league-dark-reviewThe introduction of horror into the DC Animated Universe is a welcomed change. 'Justice League Dark' gets an R-rating but unlike 'Batman: The Killing Joke', this film truly uses it. The animation isn't as clean as I've seen it in the past but that is a small complainant for an otherwise stellar piece.