Justice League – The New Frontier is a ‘re-imagining’ of the forming of the Justice League of America, set in the early 1950’s amidst the fear of nuclear war, McCarthyism, distrust and racial division. But does it work?
Justice League – The New Frontier is based on the Justice League – The New Frontier – a graphic novel of the same name. It retells the formation of the Justice League of America, the foremost heroes of DC Comics – Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman, the Flash, Green Lantern, the Martian Manhunter, the Green Arrow, as well as a small army of lesser-known comic book heroes. The setting is the paranoid era of the 1950’s, with fears of communism being stoked by Senator McCarthy, the aftermath of the Korean War, fear of nuclear war and racial division.
The result is a mixed bag. The voice talent is first rate, and I have no complaints about the acting. Likewise, the artwork in the animation is excellent; it doesn’t look like the Saturday morning sausage factory, but instead is clearly a work of love. The story centers on the formation of the world’s foremost group of heroes, the Justice League of America, in the aftermath of the cold war. The JLA is composed initially of Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman, the Flash, the Green Lantern, the Martian Manhunter and the Green Arrow. The movie centers on two of the ‘new’ heroes, the Green Lantern and the Martian Manhunter, allowing plenty of time for character development.
The underlying conflict is between ‘the centre’, an ancient life form hidden within the bowels of the planet who feels that the Earth must be purged of the ‘hate-filled’ humanity in order for life to survive, and between humanity itself, represented by the Justice League and various government factions.
So, do I recommend Justice League – The New Frontier unreservedly? No — it is very much an ‘adult’ film, by which I don’t mean people removing their clothes. Some of the fight scenes are extremely graphic, with body parts lying around. Another example is a scene, earlier in the movie, between Superman and Wonder Woman, where she has found a village (presumably Korean) where the men and children have been murdered by the rebels and the women caged up for the rebels’ ‘use’. Wonder Woman defeated the rebels, disarmed them and released the female prisoners, who promptly take the weapons and murder the rebels. Superman is aghast that she’s allowed this, and Wonder Woman considers this to be an example of Justice.
Another point in favor of Justice League – The New Frontier is the sheer number of ‘lesser’ heroes who appear in the film. Unless you’re a fan of the Silver Age of Comics, as I am, you would likely miss many of these. While watching with my son I was able to point out Ace from the Challengers of the Unknown, the Blackhawks, Larry Traynor of the Doom Patrol, etc.
movie quotes from Justice League – The New Frontier
Ace Morgan (John Heard): Some way to end a war, huh, kid? Nobody wins, nobody loses.
Hal Jordan (David Boreanaz): Long as its over, Ace. I got plans.
Ace Morgan (John Heard): Right. I forgot. You’re gonna be a space ranger.
Hal Jordan (David Boreanaz): The proper term is ‘test pilot’, funny man. I’m gonna see the stars close up.
Abin Sur (Corey Burton): I ordered my ring to find you. I had to find a deserving one. A man entirely without fear.
Hal Jordan (David Boreanaz): A lot of people think I’m a coward because of what happened in the war. Did your ring tell you about that?
Abin Sur (Corey Burton): You are no coward, Hal Jordan. To you, all life is precious. And this ring is far too powerful to fall into the hands of someone who doesn’t understand that.
Batman (Jeremy Sisto): [to John Jones] And one other thing, I’m not sure what you are or where you come from. But my instincts tell me you’re to be trusted. Make no mistake, I have a $70,000 sliver of a radioactive meteor to stop the one from Metropolis. All I need for you is a penny for a book of matches.
J’onn J’onnz (Miguel Ferrer): I though I could make a life for myself here among you humans. I didn’t think I had a choice. But there is one now. There’s too much hatred here, too much ignorance, too much mindless conformity. I’m leaving.
Batman (Jeremy Sisto): Have a nice trip. Some of us don’t have that luxury.
King Faraday (Phil Morris): Come on, level with me.
J’onn J’onnz (Miguel Ferrer): Very well. I have looked into your mind, and by extension, your heart. You honestly believe that there will be a better day when all this won’t be necessary. To find that in you, Mr. Faraday, has filled my heart with hope … And I have no place else to go.
Wonder Woman (Lucy Lawless): All of you, fight on! To the last breath FIGHT ON!
The pioneers gave up their safety, their comfort, and sometimes their lives to build our new west. They were determined to make the new world strong and free – an example to the world. Some would say that those struggles are all over. That all the horizons have been explored. That all the battles have been won. That there is no longer an American frontier. And we stand today on the edge of a new frontier. The frontier of unknown opportunities and perils.
Beyond that frontier are uncharted areas of science. Unsolved problems of peace and war. Unconquered pockets of ignorance and prejudice. I’m asking each of you to be pioneers towards that New Frontier. My call is to the young in heart, regardless of age. Can we carry through in an age where we will witness not only new breakthroughs in weapons of destruction, but also a race for mastery of the sky and the rain, the ocean and the tides, the far side of space, and the inside of men’s minds? All mankind waits upon out decision. A whole world waits to see what we shall do. And we cannot fail that trust, and we cannot fail to try.John F. Kennedy
Trivia for Justice League – The New Frontier
- This direct-to-DVD animated feature is an adaptation of Darwyn Cooke’s 2004 DC Comics miniseries, ‘DC: The New Frontier’. Darwyn Cooke also did work on the 1999 animated series, “Batman Beyond” (1999) and writes regularly for DC Comics.
- This movie, along with Teen Titans: The Judas Contract (2010) (V) and Superman/Doomsday (2007), has nothing to do with previously established DC animated series. Each film exists in its own continuity.