Dare I say what I am about to say? I can only imagine the cauldron of steeping hot water it may put me in with comic fans and movie fans. Thing is, it needs to be said, and I think I am the man who needs to say it. DC Animated films are the best comic book movies out there, period. Yes, I am saying they are better than Nolan’s trilogy. Yes, I am saying they are better than the first X-Men film. Why do I think this? They stay incredibly true to the plot. The movies often use an animation style based on the artist who worked on that particular story arc they are adapting, and Hollywood does not have its hands in it (as they are made BY DC).
These films do not get watered down and changed for mass consumption. They are just perfect, animated representations of the DCU. If DC made big screen movies the way they made their animated films, Marvel would be shitting its pants. The thing is, they don’t. For that reason alone, I decided to come up with a list of my eight favorite DC animated movies. Keep in mind, choosing eight was painfully difficult, as most of them kick-ass.
Batman: The Dark Knight Returns (Parts 1 and 2)
If pictures are worth a thousand words, this one is worth a million.
I am sorry, but these two films are the best Batman movies ever made. Yes, I just said that. Frank Miller’s take on the iconic characters from the Batman universe is about as gritty and badass as it gets. Yes, Nolan may have used the Dark Knight name, but that was not the Dark Knight. The Dark Knight is old, burnt-out, tired, and done being gentle. He is the Batman that Batman would become if Batman were real. We all know The Dark Knight saga is one of the best in Batman period, and the DC Animated version of this story is pretty much perfect.
What steps it up even more in my eyes is that they changed nothing (even the super dark ending) and they managed to somehow capture Frank Miller’s art style, which I cannot imagine must have been very easy. The end result is, and I will say this again, the best Batman story ever committed to film, animated or otherwise.
Nice to get a chance to see Superman lose his shit now and then.
Remember how, in the recent Superman movie, Superman did something that he would never do (so soon, at least)? He killed a dude by snapping his neck. It was jarring (and dumb) and took us away from the character we knew and loved. I don’t mind a gritty Superman, just build to it and give him a reason for going dark.
Superman Unbound does just that. It shows what happens when Superman is pushed too far and realizes that sometimes, you just gotta f*ck shit up to make a point. It is nice to see Supes just straight destroying shit (and people), and it also gave a great deal more depth to the character. This was a modern way of Superman saying: When in Rome. It is also taken from a Geoff Johns story I really liked. A cooler spin on a very vanilla character.
I will admit, the ending is a bit cheesy and goes a little old school. But it is worth it, just to see the damage he does to get there. Superman nuking dudes with heat vision? Yes please.
Justice League: New Frontier
Not sure what is more distracting. Kennedy or Flash’s giant bulge.
I know this may surprise you, as I am more a “gritty” version guy, but there was just something spectacular about the perfect Golden Age feel of this DC Animated film. This was not Superman, smashing up Metropolis. This was not a tired old Batman, killing people. This is the Justice League like our parents first saw them when they were comics on the comic stand, decades ago. This is pure, somewhat safe, but undeniably awesome super hero action.
Okay, okay, the big reason I am selling this one here is because of the art style of Darwyn Cooke. To me, being weened on Batman the Animated Series gave me a real natural affinity towards that visual style. It is THAT exact visual style that is captured and represented here. Also, Keith David narrates it. I mean, come on. Darwyn Cooke and Keith David, and you need MORE reasons why this film deserves a spot on the list?
Son of Batman
“You are a brat, and I wanna smack the shit out of you….”
What amounts to the most recent entry on the list, Son of Batman (though extra lame in name) is brilliant. A perfect telling of the recent introduction of Damian Wayne into the comic lore. I will not say much about Son of Batman, as it just came out. But I can tell you it fits in the DC Animated family perfectly.
For those who don’t know, Son of Batman follows the Grant Morrison story arc that revolved around Bruce Wayne finding out he has a son, and that son is kind of a punk (but is also super badass, like his pops). There is a really interesting dynamic between Bruce, Damien, and Nightwing. It is a sort of twisted family story that evolves before our eyes. I am aware some people HATE Damien Wayne, and I can understand why (he is a lot like young Anakin in the sense that he is a f*cking brat), but his evolution into Bruce’s and Batman’s world is sort of fun to watch.
Green Lantern: Emerald Knights
This was the expression on my face when I watched the Ryan Reynolds movie.
Listen, we all KNOW Nathan Fillion should have been Green Lantern. We also know that the live action film was trash. Emerald Knights sort of fixes those things, by casting Nathan Fillion as Hal Jordan, and by having a few of its segments based around some of Alan Moore’s work. The end result is the Green Lantern movie fans should have gotten, instead of the trash we got.
What sets Emerald Knights apart is that the story is broken up and told in different segments. But that is what makes it so awesome. The fact that it knows The Lantern Corps have a massive story (and world to cover) and somehow, manages to show that is nothing short of awesome. Sorry I am over-using “awesome” in this article, but it fits so well.
Emerald Knights is so good it ALMOST makes us forget the awful film from a few years ago.
(Very) Honorable Mentions
Batman Year One: I went with Dark Knight saga on main list because it is my favorite Batman storyline. But if you are looking for the dopest origin story, Year One is the place to go.
All Star Superman: Based on a recent Grant Morrison run, All Star Superman shows us many sides to Clark and Supes. It is also heavier then you think it will be, which adds even more to the experience.
Cinema will never respect Wonder Women the way it should, but this movie did.
Wonder Women: Just know, we will NEVER get a Wonder Women movie as good as this is. Never. From the violence to the caliber of voice actors, just never. I cannot express how sad that makes me. But take comfort that they at least put the effort into making this.
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