Justice League: Warworld (2023) poster

Justice League: Warworld (2023)


USA. 2023.


Director – Jeff Wamester, Screenplay – Jeremy Adams, Ernie Altbacker & Josie Campbell, Producers – Jim Krieg & Kimberly S. Moreau, Music – Michael Gatt, Animation – Edge Animation Co. Ltd (Animation Directors – Baek Seingchan & Kim Dongnam) & Red Dog Culture House (Animation Directors – Jin Seong Kim & Seog Woo Kim). Production Company – Warner Bros. Animation.


Darren Criss (Superman/Agent Kent), Stana Katic (Wonder Woman/Diana Prince), Jensen Ackles (Batman/Office Wayne), Ike Amadi (Martian Manhunter/J’onn J’onnz), John DiMaggio (Lobo), Robin Atkin Downes (Mongul), Frank Grillo (Agent Faraday), Teddy Sears (Warlord), David Lodge (Sheriff), Roger R. Cross (Machiste), Rachel Kimsey (Maria Romanova), Troy Baker (Jonah Hex), Brett Dalton (Bat Lash), Damian O’Hare (Deimos), Kari Wahlgren (Harbinger)


Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and others battle various monsters and alien invaders in simulations that resemble a Western setting and a 1950s diner where everything is in black-and-white. They do not know who they are until they break through the simulation and discover they are inside one of the most powerful weapons in the universe – an entire world that places them in combat simulations.

This was another film among the DC Original Animated Movies. It comes alongside Superman: Doomsday (2007), Batman: Gotham Knight (2008), Justice League: The New Frontier (2008), Green Lantern: First Flight (2009), Superman/Batman: Public Enemies (2009), Wonder Woman (2009), Batman: Under the Red Hood (2010), Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths (2010), Superman & Batman: Apocalypse (2010), All-Star Superman (2011), Batman: Year One (2011), Green Lantern: Emerald Knights (2011), Batman: The Dark Knight Returns Part I (2012), Justice League: Doom (2012), Superman vs. The Elite (2012), Batman: The Dark Knight Returns Part II (2013), Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox (2013), Superman Unbound (2013), Batman: Assault on Arkham (2014), Justice League: War (2014), Son of Batman (2014), Batman vs. Robin (2015), Justice League: Gods and Monsters (2015), Justice League: Throne of Atlantis (2015), Batman: Bad Blood (2016), Batman: The Killing Joke (2016), Justice League vs Teen Titans (2016), Batman and Harley Quinn (2017), Justice League Dark (2017), Teen Titans: The Judas Contract (2017), Batman: Gotham By Gaslight (2018), The Death of Superman (2018), Suicide Squad: Hell to Pay (2018), Batman: Hush (2019), Justice League vs The Fatal Five (2019), Reign of the Supermen (2019), Wonder Woman: Bloodlines (2019), Justice League Dark: Apokolips War (2020), Superman: Man of Tomorrow (2020), Superman: Red Son (2020), Batman: Soul of the Dragon (2021), Batman: The Long Halloween Part One (2021), Batman: The Long Halloween Part Two (2021), Injustice (2021), Justice Society: World War II (2021), Batman and Superman: Battle of the Super Sons (2022), Catwoman: Hunted (2022), Batman: The Doom That Came to Gotham (2023), Green Lantern: Beware My Power (2022) and Legion of Super-Heroes (2023).

Warworld was the fourth of the DC animated films for director Jeff Wamester who had previously made Justice Society: World War II, Green Lantern: Beware My Power and Legion of Super-Heroes. The film is adapted from The Warworld Saga, which ran through nineteen issues of Action Comics and several other DC titles through 2021-2.

My attention was caught by the opening in a Western town where we have a character that is clearly an analogue of Wonder Woman turn up at the saloon and engage in a fight with the evil sheriff who seems to be an counterpart of Two-Face. Thereafter we are introduced to a bunch of other characters where it is not clear who is meant to be who, before the initial Western set-up slides over to become a fantasy setting where they are fighting monsters. Few of the characters are given names and all you can do is engage in the futile exercise of trying to guess who is meant to be the equivalent of which comic-book character.

Wonder Woman out West in Justice League: Warworld (2023)
Wonder Woman out West

The film then does a jump into a black-and-white scenario that seems to take place at a diner in the 1950s where there are alien body snatchers that pursue the humans in a car chase. Here there are more identifiable characters named Kent and an officer Wayne and the woman is later identified as Diana Prince. However, the jump from a Western/fantasy setting to the 1950s proves puzzling as we are never given any clear explanation of the switch between settings.

Things are rationalised in the latter third where the characters discover who they are and we find they are in some vast simulation. This is called a weapon but is more akin to something like the combat games of the Mortal Kombat films – or perhaps more so what Marvel did with Planet Hulk (2010) – by way of something like an ultra-immersive variation on a Star Trek holodeck simulation where the participants memories of their own identity has been wiped. A variant on the idea was conducted in the Doctor Who episode The War Games (1969) where soldiers had been plucked from different Earth historical eras to fight in simulations.

The greatest frustration of the film is that you spend your time trying to understand what is going on, things mount to a big battle only for us to then find that that is not the end, merely the end of Part 1 of the story. This would have to count as the most heavily disappointing of all the animated Justice League films – in fact, you could debate whether it even is a Justice League film at all, given that the familiar characters don’t even know they are superheroes, or even it seems their own names, let alone are at the point of operating as an organised group.

Trailer here

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