[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Directed By: Sam Liu & Lauren Montgomery
Written By: Dwayne McDuffie
Starring: William Baldwin, Mark Harmon, Chris Noth, Gina Torres, James Woods, Brian Bloom, Josh Keaton, Vanessa Marshall, Nolan North
Original Release Date: February 23, 2010
In a parallel universe, the lone survivor of Earth’s Justice League – Lex Luthor – travels through other-world dimensions to join forces with Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, The Flash, and J’onn J’onzz to save his world and its people. But the villainous Crime Syndicate controlled by Ultraman, Owlman, and Superwoman will stop at nothing to maintain their domination. It will take wits, might, and a sacrifice to defeat these unforgiving enemies in this spectacular DC Universe Animated Original Movie.
Crisis On Two Earths is the most recent reimagining of a story that first appeared as a Silver Age Justice League/Justice Society crossover: Crisis On Earth Three. Later, it was reimagined in JLA: Earth Two. While this version of the story is in some respect based on these earlier stories, it includes enough original elements to be more than just an updated retreading of these earlier stories.
I especially enjoyed how this story was populated by many varied evil versions of the DC characters we are familiar with. Most were unnamed, but there were dozens that were visible throughout the movie. Although most were unnamed background characters, a DC fan could easily pause the movie and figure out which DC character each is the evil doppelganger of.
There are even some hilarious evil counterparts of DC heroes. An evil version of the Marvel Family appear as underlings of Superwoman. Predictably, two of them are evil versions of Captain Marvel and Captain Marvel Jr. However, instead of an evil Mary Marvel, we see an evil Uncle Dudley. Even better is that in the subsequent fight scene, he proves to be quite the badass.
I also liked that the story actually came up with a fitting reason for the villains’ group name: the Crime Syndicate of America. That sounds more like a name for a mafia group than a supervillain team. In this version, they are both. Not only are they costumed supervillains, but each member controls a cut of the world’s organized crime, with Ultraman as the chief mobster. And they all talk a bit like stereotypical movie mobsters.
Many of the villains on this alternate Earth are nearly identical to their heroic counterparts, but some are opposite in other ways. But none are completely as opposite as Batman and Owlman. Not only is Owlman evil, but he is dispassionate where Batman is driven by anger. But mostly, where Batman’s main purpose is to preserve human life, Owlman’s is to eradicate it altogether.
And Owlman has a plan that will destroy not only the Earth, but all Earths in the Multiverse – wiping humanity entirely from existence. This is his solution to the problem of the evil perpetrated by humanity. In the face of Owlman’s transcendent evil, the Crime Syndicate has to join the League in saving their world.
I can’t really complain about much. I wish the Justice Society could have been included in the story in some capacity, but there’s already a ton of characters in the movie.
Also, it seems odd to me that they would have a romantic pairing of Martian Manhunter and Rose Wilson. While it’s about time we saw a romantic subplot for J’onn, Rose Wilson seems a very odd choice. Now, understandably, the Rose of that universe wouldn’t necessarily be like Ravager in the DCU, but Rose is a teenager, while J’onn is an adult. He had a wife and kid on Mars before coming to Earth. Maybe the alternate universe Rose is a bit older, but if so, that should have been made clearer.
I’m a sucker for high-concept science fiction, so mixing parallel universes and the world’s greatest superheroes is an easy sell for me. It’s well written and well executed – definitely one of the better DC Animated Universe offerings.