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 graphics, 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.
Editorial review of Justice League – The New Frontier, courtesy of Amazon.com
Product Description of Justice League – The New Frontier, courtesy of Amazon.com
Inspired by the best-selling graphic novel by Darwyn Cooke and produced by the multiple Emmy ® award winning animation legend, Bruce Timm, The New Frontier is the epic tale of the founding of the Justice League. Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman are all here of course, and so are Green Lantern, Martian Manhunter and Flash – whose incredible origins will be told for the very first time. Strangers at first, these very different heroes must overcome fear and suspicion to forge an alliance against a monster so formidable, even the mighty Superman can not stop it. If they fail, our entire planet will be ‘cleansed’ of humanity.
movie quotes from Justice League – The New Frontier
The Centre (Keith David): [narrating] Like all things on this hurtling sphere, I emerged from the molten center of creation. But mine has been a unique path. Isolated, I developed attributes beyond those of lesser beings. Then the sphere was struck by a vast celestial stone. Black chunks of death filled the skies and the world became a chaotic world of doom. Soon the sphere began to nurture new kinds of life. And there was one that stood above the rest. Its fragile shell belied its vicious nature. And in what seemed like a heartbeat, these things proliferated in both number and destructive needs. Now they have harnessed the most destructive force. And I, The Centre, have concluded that the sphere must be cleansed of them.
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.
Superman (Kyle MacLachlan): This is what the government’s afraid of, Diana, us acting like vigilantes.
Wonder Woman (Lucy Lawless): I have to do what I think is right.
Superman (Kyle MacLachlan): That’s what the others said at first, remember? And now Batman’s a fugitive, the Justice Society’s retired, and Hourman’s dead. No matter how much good we do, deep down, people are always going to be scared of us. Isn’t that why you and I signed those loyalty oaths?
Wonder Woman (Lucy Lawless): Take a look around, Kal. Oaths don’t mean much around here. All I see is suffering and madness.
Superman (Kyle MacLachlan): But …
Wonder Woman (Lucy Lawless): There’s the door, spaceman.
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.
The Flash (Neil Patrick Harris): Sorry to interrupt. There’s something I have to get off my chest. I’ve always used my power to help people. But now the government’s on my tail, hunting me. You just saw what happened to John Wilson. America needs people like him. But where are they going to come from if the government keeps acting this way? As for me, I’m quitting, giving it up. Breaks my heart, but there are people I love. I don’t want anything to happen to them. So good night, everybody. And good luck!
Hal Jordan (David Boreanaz): A hole in the ground. Isn’t that the wrong direction?
Carol Ferris (Brooke Shields): Sometimes you have to go through hell to get to heaven.
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.
Rick Flag: Jordan, listen to me, we have weapons on board!
Hal Jordan (David Boreanaz): What?
Rick Flag: In case the Martians turned out to be hostile. Nerve gas, germ bombs, even nuclear.
Hal Jordan (David Boreanaz): Doesn’t matter, I can still land this thing.
[Flagg flips open a cover to reveal a button]
Hal Jordan (David Boreanaz): What’s that?
Rick Flag: It’s a self destruct switch. I’m sorry,Jordan, but you knew the risks.
Hal Jordan (David Boreanaz): We’ve had an engine failure. I’m gonna glide her back.
King Faraday (Phil Morris): Negative! It’s too DANGEROUS! Where’s Flagg?
Hal Jordan (David Boreanaz): Don’t worry about him … or your WEAPONS! They’ll both be okay.
Carol Ferris (Brooke Shields): Weapons?
[Carol slaps Faraday]
Carol Ferris (Brooke Shields): You son of a bitch!
Robin: Wow, you really do know him.
Superman (Kyle MacLachlan): You must be Robin. I hear you’re quite a detective.
Robin: Well, I try not to brag, but …
Batman (Jeremy Sisto): Have you finished your homework yet?
Robin: Uh … Right.
Superman (Kyle MacLachlan): Hmm. New look, a sidekick. Do you mind if I ask?
Batman (Jeremy Sisto): As a matter of fact, I do. Let’s just say I set out to scare criminals, not children.
Superman (Kyle MacLachlan): Fair enough.
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.
Barry Allen: [to Isis] You know who’s going to be there? Superman, Wonder Woman, people like that. I’m just a guy who runs after jewelry thieves and talking gorillas.
J’onn J’onnz (Miguel Ferrer): The last time I appeared without warning in this form someone died of fright. Perhaps I should take a friendlier appearance.
King Faraday (Phil Morris): Suit yourself.
[changes into superhero form]
J’onn J’onnz (Miguel Ferrer): Well?
King Faraday (Phil Morris): It’s okay. But real men wear pants.
King Faraday (Phil Morris): All of you remember today, there are no Democrats, no Replicans, no hawks, no doves. Just the naked simplicity of an absolute: Mankind’s survival. Good luck to us all.
Superman (Kyle MacLachlan): I see I have your attention. We face a threat big enough to wipe us off the Earth. And still we bicker about a mask or a uniform. My best friend is lying upstairs right now. She would have given her life for this country and I could hardly look her in the eye. America was founded on the notion that a person should be free to follow his or her own destiny. But we can’t do that if we’re living in fear of our own government. We need to reclaim this country for free men and women everywhere.
The Flash (Neil Patrick Harris): What about your government friends?
King Faraday (Phil Morris): That’s a fair question. Superman’s right! The persecution and paranoia have to stop. From here on, we work together a free Americans.
[Superman and Faraday shake hands]
Superman (Kyle MacLachlan): I’m gonna fly now and recon this thing. When I get back, we’ll work out a strategy. ARE YOU WITH ME?
[the crowd cheers]
Lois Lane (Kyra Sedgwick): America’s champion, Superman, went down in defeat several hours ago. An exhaustive search has found no sign of him. Here at the Cape, the greatest minds in the free world, are now working on a plan to stop this monster before it reaches the coast. We cannot panic. We cannot let our sense of loss …
[stops the broadcast and starts crying]
Wonder Woman (Lucy Lawless): All of you, fight on! To the last breath FIGHT ON!
The Flash (Neil Patrick Harris): [refers to Green Lantern] That guy with the ring, he wasn’t a part of the plan. Or wasn’t I listening?
Hal Jordan (David Boreanaz): Listen to me! War … over! Finished!
The Flash (Neil Patrick Harris): Hey, Ace, what happened to that buddy of yours?
Ace Morgan (John Heard): Hal Jordan? If I knew him, he’s up there somewhere tear-assing around.
The Centre (Keith David): You won’t be able to do it. It is the CENTRE that holds, not you!
Green Lantern: I can. I can!
The Centre (Keith David): You do not have the will!
Green Lantern: No? Watch!
Aquaman: [returns Superman to the surface] I am Arthur of Atlantis. This one has been asking for a woman named Lois.
John F. Kennedy: 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.
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.
- Hal Jordan’s fellow co-pilot, Ace Morgan, is the leader of a group of adventurers called The Challengers of the Unknown, who starred in several incarnations in the comics. The other team members (or “Challs” , as they are called) can be seen during the final battle with the Centre. They are wearing the same lavender shirts and white gloves that Ace is wearing.
- The term “New Frontier ‘ was used by John F. Kennedy in his acceptance speech in the 1960 United States presidential election to the Democratic National Convention at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum as the Democratic nominee. Originally just a slogan to inspire America to support him, the phrase developed into a label for his administration’s domestic and foreign programs: “We stand at the edge of a New Frontier – the frontier of unfulfilled hopes and dreams. Beyond that frontier are uncharted areas of science and space, unsolved problems of peace and war, unconquered problems of ignorance and prejudice, unanswered questions of poverty and surplus.”
- Cast member Miguel Ferrer is cousin to George Clooney, who played Batman in Batman & Robin (1997).
- Joe Mantegna references his role as Dean Martin in The Rat Pack (1998) in his portrayal of 1950’s crooner Buddy Blake.