Legion of Super-Heroes (2023) poster

Legion of Super-Heroes (2023)


USA. 2023.


Director – Jeff Wamester, Screenplay – Josie Campbell, Producers – Jim Krieg & Kimberly S. Moreau, Music – Kevin Riepl, Animation – The Answer Studio (Animation Director – Yuji Watanabe), Digital Emation (Animation Director – Gyungcho Choi). Edge Animation Co., Ltd (Animation Director – Hyunjin Seok), Maven Image Platform (Animation Director – Youngsoo Kim) & Studio Grida (Animation Director –Jaeiji Gwak). Production Company – Warner Bros. Animation


Meg Donnelly (Supergirl/Kara), Harry Shum Jr. (Brainiac 5), Darren Criss (Superman), Jensen Ackles (Batman), Darin De Paul (Brainiac/Solomon Grundy), Jennifer Hale (Alura), Yuri Lowenthal (Mon El), Daisy Lightfoot (Triplicate Girl), Ely Henry (Bouncing Boy), Eric Lopez (Cosmic Boy/Chemical King), Robbie Daymond (Timberwolf/Brainiac 4), Cynthia Hamidi (Dawnstar), Gideon Adlon (Phantom Girl), Ben Diskin (Arms Fall Off Boy/Brainiac 2), Victoria Grace (Shadow Lass), Zeno Robinson (Invisible Kid/Brainiac 3), Matt Bomer (The Flash)


Kara, the teenage cousin of Kal-el, is placed in a capsule by her mother Alura and launched just before the planet Krypton explodes. After being knocked off course, she ends up on Earth several years later where Kal-el is now older than her and acts as Superman. However, Kara’s attempts to become Supergirl are a disaster, where her untrained powers end up causing much destruction of property in Metropolis. Batman urges Superman to do something. Superman uses a device that opens a portal to the 31st Century. There he introduces Kara to the Legion of Super-Heroes, a team made up of heroes from different planets. Kara is accepted into the Legion’s training program. She meets fellow recruit is Brainiac 5, a clone copy of the super-villain Brainiac, and immediately attacks him, mistaking him for his predecessor. They form a cautious friendship as Brainiac tries to warn the Legion of the menace presented by the secret society The Dark Circle.

This was another film among the DC Original Animated Movies. It comes following 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), Green Lantern: Beware My Power (2022), Batman: The Doom That Came to Gotham (2023), Justice League: Warworld (2023) and Justice League: Crisis on Infinite Earths Part One (2024).

The Legion of Super-Heroes was one of my favourite superhero comic-books growing up. The Legion was created in 1958 as part of a Superboy adventure where they were super-powered team of mostly alien teens who came back from the 30th Century to appeal to him to join their ranks. Superboy would regularly travel back and forward in time for various adventures with them. The Legion continued to appear in various stories in Adventure Comics before receiving their own title in 1973. The Legion has undergone various reboots and reshuffles since then and remain a core DC superhero team.

The Legion of Super-Heroes have appeared on screen before in sporadic episodes of the animated Superman (1996-2000) and Justice League Unlimited (2004-6), before gaining their own animated series Legion of Super-Heroes (2006-8). They appeared in live-action in episodes of Smallville (2001-10) and the third season of Supergirl (2015-21). Their first appearance in the DC Original Animated Movies was in Justice League vs the Fatal Five, although that really only focused on one Legionnaire and their regular team of foes The Fatal Five.

Element Lad, Bouncing Boy, Supergirl, Dawnstar, Brainiac 5, Timber Wolf and Phantom Girl in Legion of Super-Heroes (2023)
Legion of Super-Heroes line-up – (l to r) Element Lad, Bouncing Boy, Supergirl, Dawnstar, Brainiac 5, Timber Wolf and Phantom Girl

Just as much as it is a Legion of Super-Heroes film, this is also a Supergirl film. Introduced in 1959, Supergirl was intended as a variation on Superman that could be sold to teenage girls. She enjoyed her own comic-book from 1972 and appeared in the live-action film Supergirl (1984) played by Helen slater but was then written out of DC continuity in the Crisis on Infinite Earths (1986) continuity reshuffle. She subsequently floated around making odd appearances before being officially reintroduced in 2004. She also appeared in live-action in episodes of Smallville by Laura Vandernoort and most recently the highly successful the tv series Supergirl (2015-21) played by the wonderfully sunny Melissa Benoist.

The film does make some change to the comic-book Supergirl. Dropped is the explanation about Argo City surviving the destruction of Krypton and now she has an origin almost identical to Superman in which her mother places her into a survival capsule and sends it to Earth just before the planet’s annihilation. In the original Legion stories, Superboy would regularly travel into the future to join them. The film follows the 2004 Legion reboot which replaced Superboy with Supergirl and had her travel into the future to have adventures alongside the Legion, which enjoyed sufficient popularity that the comic-book was retitled Supergirl and the Legion of Super Heroes in 2005.

Versions of Supergirl have appeared in the DC Original Animated Movies Superman & Batman: Apocalypse and Superman Unbound, which rewrite her as a much more troubled character than appears in most DC Comics continuity or the 2014 tv series. This returns to that and has her an Outsider on Earth trying to adjust and with superpowers that are uncontrolled. You kind of feel that this character exploration would almost have been due a film on its own whereas here we skip from her journey to Earth that takes place over the opening credits to her then in her secret identity on Earth, while the aspect of uncontrolled powers is largely forgotten by the times she gets to the 31st Century.

Supergirl and Brainiac 5 in Legion of Super-Heroes (2023)
Supergirl and Brainiac 5

Supergirl’s first appearance on Earth makes you sink in your seat. She has been reimagined wearing giant-sized owl glasses, overalls and a baseball cap turned sideways. With the way that director Jeff Wamester trashed Green Lantern in his previous film Green Lantern: Beware My Power, your hopes for his version of Supergirl go sinking right through the seat. On the other hand, Meg Donnelly voices the part with a sprightly cheer that aces the part.

The introduction of the Legion come out okay, although like some of the most well-known members of the group have been sidelined as being ‘away on a mission’. This gives the majority of the film over to the underachievers of the group. It is nice seeing two of the most uselessly powered superheroes in the whole of DC canon – Bouncing Boy and Arms Fall Off Boy – getting some screen time. The most radical interpretation is the character of Mon-el, who was created as a Superboy stand-in, who has all prior continuity thrown out the window to be rewritten as an agent of the dark side.

The best realised of these is the character of Brainiac 5, which the film develops out in very different ways to the comic-book original. In what seems like somebody’s fanservice fantasy, the film also develops out a romance between Brainiac 5 and Supergirl (although this is present in some versions of comic-book continuity). There is an appealing relationship between the buttoned-down Spock-like Brainiac and the perky vibrance of Supergirl as the two cooperate and come together.

Trailer here

Actors: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Themes: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,