Blu-ray Review: Injustice (2021)
Written by: Ernie Altbacker
Starring: Justin Hartley, Anson Mount, Janet Varney, Kevin Pollack, Gillian Jacobs
Reviewed by: Eric Joseph
Thanks goes to WB for the free review copy.
Inspired by Injustice: Gods Among Us, NetherRealm Studios’ popular video game, and the best-selling DC graphic novel based on the video game, Injustice: Gods Among Us – Year One by Tom Taylor, the animated film Injustice finds an alternate world gone mad – where The Joker has duped Superman into killing Lois Lane, sending the Man of Steel on a deadly rampage. Unhinged, Superman decides to take control of the Earth for humanity’s own good. Determined to stop him, Batman creates a team of like-minded, freedom-fighting heroes. But when Super Heroes go to war, can the world survive?
Let me get something out in the open: Though I’ve played through both Injustice video games, I’m not the biggest fan of the brand. To be honest, I thought the storyline was cool, but the gameplay just didn’t do it for me. I did read the tie-in comics here and there, but I didn’t really keep up with them. Having said that, I was still looking forward to this animated adaptation.
Even with my moderate knowledge of the Injustice universe, it quickly became apparent to me that the filmmakers more so adapted the comic books for screen. So if you were looking for a literal translation of video game cutscenes, know that you won’t get it here. Still, it was cool to be able to predict the next line from certain characters, particularly the warming dynamic shared between Green Arrow and Harley Quinn.
If this movie succeeded in one aspect over anything else, it was allowing the viewer to understand how this particular version of Superman could go to the extremes he did. Not only does he lose those he loves most – and an entire city, for that matter, by way of the Joker’s infernal machinations – but you also see how he goes down the slippery slope of using his power to intervene in international conflicts. Well, there’s that and eventually spilling some blood that he very well shouldn’t have. You may disagree with his actions, but the narrative sure does track.
The timeless Batman-Superman rivalry that certain writers dare to touch upon also takes center stage, though not in the way I’d wished (more on that in the “negatives” section of this review). You can’t help sympathizing for the Dark Knight as he sees his best buddy going off the deep end and having to subsequently deal with him.
Bonus features are included, though not numerous. A nice roundtable discussion involving the filmmakers called “Adventures in Storytelling – Injustice: Crisis and Conflict” is a fine way to spend a half hour, with two episodes of Justice League – “Injustice for All, Parts I and II” – bringing up the rear.
Okay, I’m going to address the elephant in the room: The video game voice cast totally got snubbed. Seriously, how can anyone make an Injustice movie and not give Kevin Conroy, George Newbern and Susan Eisenberg phone calls? These beloved voice actors were hired for the video games for a reason, and now that the brand travels to their realm they don’t even get invited to the party?
Instead, Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman are voiced by Justin Hartley, Anson Mount and Janet Varney, respectively. I adjusted to Hartley and Varney better than expected, but filling Conroy’s shoes is an insurmountable feat. Mount would likely do well in an animated Batman movie of his own, but many readers will probably agree with me in saying that nobody can top Conroy in this sense. I mean no disrespect to Mount at all, though this just felt like it should’ve been Conroy’s gig.
Now that we have all that jazz out of the way, I want to mention how one of the most appealing aspects of Injustice was pretty much nixed. I really thought it was interesting to see how the heroes chose to align with either Batman or Superman in their great moral battle, thus setting the stage for the blockbuster fighting game. Instead, we see Team Batman going up against Superman and maybe a few people who will maybe still agree with him for another fifteen minutes of screentime. Streamlining sometimes works wonders in adaptations, yet it didn’t here.
If you’re unfamiliar with Injustice, you probably won’t share the gripes of those who’ve played the games and read the comics. In other words, this is alright as a standalone film but somewhat misses the mark at being an adaptation. The creative minds behind it really should’ve just adapted the story from the first game. Perhaps you should rent before buying.