Based on the Injustice: Gods Among Us video game and the Injustice: Gods Among Us: Year One comic book series, Injustice is a DC Elseworlds story where the Justice League fractures and the superheroes fight against each other. I can’t comment about the film as an adaptation from those other iterations, but the story deals with interesting themes as our heroes behave in new yet believable ways under the dire circumstances they find themselves.
Superman is pushed past the brink by the Joker, a homicidal maniac who never rehabilitates when captured. Setting aside the implausibility of Joker conducting a delicate surgical procedure as part of his grand plan, Superman makes the decision that enough is enough with the villain after millions are killed. Superman then decides he is going to force peace upon humanity whether they like it or not. Wonder Woman agrees with Superman’s path while Batman is against his authoritarian ideas. Some heroes take sides; others walk away.
During a battle between the heroes at Arkham Asylum, Robin unintentionally kills Nightwing, but the viewer has little time to mourn him as the story takes a mystical turn. Nightwing’s spirit (for some reason, Dick Grayson stays in his costume in the afterlife) encounters the god Rama Kushna, who turns him into Deadwing, a variation on Deadman. Screenwriter Ernie Altbacker uses Deadwing’s ability to possess someone as a deus ex machina, but it calls into question why Deadwing doesn’t do it at other opportune moments, such as taking over Superman.
The plot gets darker as it progresses, and the deaths of familiar characters pile up. It’s a bit surprising the lengths this version of Superman goes to, which are so different from the usual portrayal of the hero. Getting revenge against the Joker is understandable, and after millions have died, Batman has no good argument against Superman being judge, jury, and executioner. Superman’s plans for the rest of the world don’t make sense. They are initially understandable because he’s in a state of grief; however, not only does he not come to his senses on his own later, he grows more fascistic. The resolution makes sense, although considering how long Superman has been in this state of mind, it’s rather surprising it worked at all.
Not sure if it matches the video game or the comics, but I am not a fan of the artwork. The characters are drawn with too many hard and odd angles. For example, Superman is too muscular and strangely shaped. For some reason, black lines on people’s hands signify their knuckles while looking nothing like knuckles, so it was a tad distracting.
The video has been given a 1080p/MPEG-4 AVC encoded transfer displayed at an aspect ratio of 1.78:1. Colors appear in bold hues across the spectrum that pop off the screen. The blacks, like Batman’s costume, are rich and inky without crushing. The image appears free of digital artifacts.
The audio is available in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. The track delivers a balanced mix of clear dialogue, satisfying effects, and composer Robert J. Kral’s dynamic score. The sound presentation is mainly positioned in the front speakers. It makes good use of the surrounds during the action scenes with bass support from the subwoofer.
The HD extras are:
- Adventures in Storytelling – Injustice: Crisis and Conflict (31 min): Producers Jim Krieg and Rick Morales, director Matt Peters, and screenwriter Ernie Altbacker have a roundtable discussion about creating the film.
- Previews of previously released DC Animated Movies (presented out of order) Reign of the Supermen (3 min) and The Death of Superman (7 min).
- From the DC Vault: Justice League – Injustice for All, Parts I (22 min) and II (22 min). Tired of losing to the JL, Lex Luthor assembles the Injustice Gang, which features super villains such as Cheetah, Star Sapphire, Shade, Copperhead, Ultra-Humanite, Solomon Grundy, and the Joker.
For those who don’t mind their superheroes being human and fallible, Injustice offers an intriguing story in an alternate DC universe. Some of the questionable plot choices and the artwork keep me from considering it top-tier DC Animated Movie line, but there’s still plenty to enjoy for fans of the Justice League.