I’ve been saying for years that while the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been dominating the live-action superhero movie landscape, DC has been doing the same with their animated features, and now both have reached a closing chapter of sorts. The DC Animated Universe’s fifteenth and supposedly final film, Justice League Dark: Apokolips War is an awesome superhero flick that features a wide range of beloved comic book characters and serves a similar purpose to its canon as Avengers: Endgame did in the MCU. Both are conclusions to long-running story arcs and offer bittersweet farewells for many beloved superhero icons.
Speaking of superhero icons, the sheer number of characters in Apokolips War is astonishing, especially when considering the movie is just shy of an hour and a half in length. Multiple members of the Justice League, Teen Titans, and Suicide Squad are allowed to shine, and aside from a couple of small nitpicks, nothing feels rushed or unearned. Almost all of the emotional beats and moments of character growth work, which is kind of incredible.
I attribute that success to the stellar voice acting, a good chunk of which comes from longtime DCAU cast members. Apokolips War’s main players, Raven (Taissa Farmiga), John Constatine (Matt Ryan), Superman (Jerry O’Connell, who delivers my favorite Supes of any movie) and Damian Wayne/Robin (Stuart Allen) are all particularly amazing. The latter of that group was quite surprising because I never cared much for the DCAU’s boy wonder in his previous outings. I’m so glad that the character was finally able to balance the arrogance and attitude with his softer, more endearing traits, growing from an annoying brat into a worthy Titan. Rainn Wilson’s Lex Luthor made a similar jump in enjoyability too, but doesn’t get the same amount of screentime as Damian. I also would’ve liked a little more of Jason O’Mara’s Batman and Rosario Dawson’s Wonder Woman, but they still get some kick-ass lines and action scenes.
Oh, and the action is also fantastic, surpassing everything in the DCAU since it’s first entry, Flashpoint Paradox. It’s easy to see how Apokolips War earned its R-rating, because it is brutal. Limbs get ripped from their bodies, heads get squished, eyes get gouged, and some of the horrors that a few leaguers are are subjected to are nothing less than haunting. The animation behind it all is generally outstanding as well, with only a few shots of mass computer generated baddies being anything less than great.
The one part I can imagine might rub some people the wrong way is the ending. I honestly love it, as it feels very comic-booky and has me intrigued to see what will follow in the DCAU’s footsteps. It may not be as concrete or clear as some would like though, and I’d have a hard time arguing against it.
With all said and done, Justice League Dark: Apokolips War is a strong ending to the current run of DC’s animated stories, and one of the best animated superhero films in this past decade. If this is truly the last we’ll be seeing of the DCAU, I’m glad it went out on such a high note.