Justice Society: World War II Review: An action-packed and epic blast into the past
The latest entry in the ongoing DC Universe Animated Original Movies saga, Justice Society: World War II, is a blast into the past with some stylistic and action-packed fun.
The film brings us into a WWII where a group of classic DC heroes, led by Wonder Woman (voiced by Stana Katic), come together to form the Justice Society of America to destroy the Nazi regime. The animation style here excellently evokes that look and feels of that era. The color palette is a little flatter with dark undertones, the film is a little grainer than most modern DC animated flicks, and the audio has a good muffle as well as classic sound effects. It’s also great to see Wonder Woman in a classic looking costume and to see Jay Garrick’s (voiced by Armen Taylor) Flash look as amazing as ever. Frankly, it’s just great to see the original versions of characters like Black Canary (voiced by Elysia Rotaru), Hawkman (voiced by Omid Abtahi), and Hourman (voiced by Matthew Mercer) running around, beating up Nazis.
The way the film also brings us back into WWII is especially fun as we see a modern-day, Earth-1 Flash (voiced by Matt Bomer) be brought back to WWII through the Speed Force and now must help the JSA stop a secretive force working with the Nazis. It’s always fun to see The Flash getting sucked through time and space, but here it’s a little more fun with him heading back to an entirely different era of America – especially because this isn’t exactly a seasoned Barry Allen. Admittedly, it was a little odd to think that he doesn’t really know what the Speed Force is and has no reaction seeing Wonder Woman or Black Canary because he doesn’t know them in his time. When we initially meet Barry, it seemed like he was a little deeper into his career than he actually is and has developed a solid relationship with Superman (voiced by Darren Criss). So, it’s a weird moment when we see he’s reacting to all these key aspects and figures of his character for the first time.
There are definitely some aspects about this Earth-1 that could’ve been better contextualized at the start, but this Flash’s in-experience offers a lot of room for him to learn and some great connections to be made between past and present. It’s cool to see Barry learn things about his powers and the Speed Force from Jay and he even teaches Jay about some awesome speed abilities that he uses in battle. His experience in seeing Wonder Woman and Steve Trevor’s (voiced by Chris Diamantopoulos) romance greatly helps him develop a better focus on his relationship with Iris (voiced by Ashleigh LaThrop). Even seeing this team of special beings form for the fight for truth and justice makes him wants to see something like that in the present and things like this are what makes Flash such a unique character. He can really learn and be impacted by the past because he can actually be there and its great that that’s shown here.
The entire story and way that this WWII DC world is constructed is actually very impressive with the emotional depth of its characters and story. The relationship built for Wonder Woman and Steve is really strong and heartfelt. It was interesting to see Canary and Hawkman talk about legacy and what’s important in life as they discuss how the team has to remain a secret. All these characters are really given the time and care to flesh out their own personal struggles and it makes the moments where they fail or face fatal odds really sting. There are actually a couple deaths here that could easily get the tears flowing and it’s a refreshing surprise to see this film actually have real stakes and emotional weight. It doesn’t just feel like just “another” DC animated film and the strong writing from Meghan Fitzmartin and Jeremy Adams shouldn’t go unnoticed.
The action is also really strong with it showcasing some impressive feats for certain characters that are amazing to see play out. The use of slow-down for Flash and Jay is greatly used here and it’s great how humorous it can be. From Jay just casually tossing guys away like a conveyor belt to Flash fast punching a guard’s head for information like a machine gun, there’s a lot of fun the film has in showcasing both Flash’s action. There’s even a moment where Flash punches a guard with just the force of his fist without even touching him and another where Canary lets out such a strong scream that she tears a monster apart that were so unbelievably epic they make you want to get up and cheer. There are also some fun other DC character appearances and surprises that will please plenty of DC fans and opens up the idea of possibly exploring this world again – which would be awesome.
Justice Society: WWII is one of the best DC animated films in recent history with its action-packed animation and great world-building that blends the past and present perfectly. It’s honestly one of the more recent DC projects that leaves a real emotional impact and Warner Bros. should honestly takes some notes to bring the great elements of this film into its live-action adaptations.