‘Justice League’ (2001-2004) TV Series Review & Drinking Game
30 min. per episode
When Cartoon Network’s television series finally came to Netflix, this geek had only one thought on his mind, “Oh my God! I’m going to watch so much Justice League!” This is the series that marked the last phase of Paul Dini and Bruce Timm’s animated universe based around DC comic book characters. Now, I’m aware there was a follow-up series that was the real end to what is commonly referred to as “The Timm-verse” called Justice League Unlimited, and there were the other shows about Batman and Superman that came before and carried over into this show’s canon. Well, the last two shows aren’t on Netflix, and Unlimited had way too big of a cast to get into small details, so I’m just going to review this one.
Where do I begin? Well, how about the fact that this show got just about everything right. From the animation to the writing to the voice acting, Justice League serves as the best adaptation of some of the most beloved comic book characters of all-time. Transferring these iconic characters into a different medium is never easy and had previously failed the folks over at DC for one main reason: they felt the need to make it kid friendly. Cartoon Network’s Justice League is anything but.
Though nobody is actually seen being murdered on-screen, they don’t play make-believe to trick the kids into thinking that someone went to a farm up state where cartoon characters go to play with other cartoon characters. They straight up talk about murder, or at the very least say it in a not so subtle way. Above all, the plots are well thought out, and they cover their holes very well. Very seldom, if at all, do you find yourself going, “Wait, how on God’s green Earth did they pull THAT one out of their asses?”
Like previous incarnations of characters in the Timm-verse, each character is done justice (ha-ha) in terms of how similarly they are portrayed in both the comics and the show. Well, at least as closely as they can be in a children’s show. The villains inparticular stand out. Lex Luthor (voiced by Clancy Brown) is still a cocky, arrogant, over-intelligent businessman who will stop at nothing to bring down Superman and the Justice League, including squander his fortune.
All the other bad guys are also done very well. I could go on and on about each and every one of them, but that would take too long. The only other one I will mention is the one that might be my all-time favorite despite not showing up often enough on the show: The Joker. To be honest, as much as I enjoyed the late Heath Ledger’s performance, I can only think of the high-pitched, chilling cackle that Mark Hamill uses to bring the character to life by when I think of The Joker. If you really want to see a great, albeit much more mature version of his work as the character, check out his scenes from the video game Arkham City. They’re absolutely terrifying.
I’m sure you all want me to go on about how awesome Batman is, but I won’t for exactly three reasons. 1) Heroes aren’t awesome unless they have great enemies to fight. 2) I’ve been mentioning how incredible the adaptations are, so I don’t feel the need to mention every single one of them. And 3) He’s the goddamn Batman! When is he not awesome? Even the Adam West version had his moments of greatness, though, on a similar note as Hamill’s Joker, Kevin Conroy’s is the voice I think of when I think of Batman. Even more so than Christian Bale’s voice.
Ok fine, I’ll mention one hero. Great shows know when to lighten up and have a good chuckle and the writing in the show does this perfectly, especially in regards to The Flash (voiced by Michael Rosenbaum). Thank God they decided to go with Wally West over Barry Allen as the Flash (no disrespect). For the most part, all the other characters are played straight, so they always manage to give The Flash a chance to deliver a snappy one liner to break the tension, which often results in his own personal embarrassment. You’d think this would get annoying, but time and time again he proves himself to be a real hero, sometimes by coming through in the clutch as the League’s last resort, giving him a reason to remain in The Justice League.
Finally, the animation is just fantastic. The lighting always sets the perfect mood, and it moves so smoothly that it almost feels like you’re watching an actual fight between Superman and Brainiac. All the characters look amazing as well. They even look as if they were based on real life models, especially Wonder Woman. Best. Swimsuit. Ever. Now, I’m aware some of you readers, especially the women folk, are rolling your eyes and calling me a pervert. Well, I have only one thing to say to you all: shut up. I made it this far without being a weird creep in regards to her image, so just let me have this one attempt at a joke. Besides, you’d be crazy to deny that she has a great pair. Those bracelets work miracles for her.
Justice League is one of the greatest shows ever based on a comic book. It really helped that some of these iconic figures had been developed, both in terms of animation and voice acting, for over a decade. After the success of the Batman and Superman shows, it was only logical for there to be a Justice League program as well. If you haven’t seen it yet, I would recommend watching the first two series, but if you know enough about the superheroes then you should just go for it. Either way, it’s not a necessity. Just put on your Superman costume with the underwear on the outside, sit in front of your Bat-television, and, if you’re lucky enough, snuggle with your Hawkgirl as you enjoy one of the greatest superhero teams ever.
And now, a Justice League Drinking Game
Take a Drink: Every time The Flash says something goofy/sarcastic/witty.
Take Two Drinks: Every time something The Flash says comes back to bite him in the ass.
Take a Drink: Every time Wonder Woman mentions a Greek God.
Take a Drink: Every time Batman does something that’s just so Batman. You know what I mean.
Take a Drink: Every time Hawkgirl decides to just smash things instead of planning things out.
All episodes of Justice League are currently available to stream over on Netflix.