Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox may have DC Comics’ premiere superhero team in the title, but make no mistake: This is a Flash movie – and it’s all the better for it.
The Flash, during the Blackest Night saga in the comics, was briefly deputized as a Blue Lantern, an avatar of Hope. This story shows why, no matter if he’s powerless Barry Allen, wearing Blue, or wearing his classic Red, The Flash embodies hope, perhaps more than any of his teammates ever have.
The Flash is presented here as some amalgam of Spider-Man, and Captain America, and even a bit of Batman (who he teams up with – in multiple incarnations). He has tragedy in his life, of course, but he also has a never-give-up, always-stand attitude. He isn’t quite the tactical genius, but his smarts are important to who he is as a character, and how he evaluates any given situation should be, and are here, approached with a scientist’s mind.
While this story of an altered world being created accidentally is a brutal and grim one, that’s not the feeling you walk away from the film with. Instead, you walk away feeling that Barry Allen has overcome not just a great injustice, but in fact has overcome himself, something that everyone watching can relate to. On any given day, every average person has to find a way to drive past a base desire, and that’s the lesson of this film.
All this from a superhero action movie? And an animated one at that? Yes, exactly, and that’s why Warner Bros Animation’s DC team has shown that they truly understand the allegory and importance of these heroes. From the original story by Johns and Kubert that rang the death knell of a universe and set up the launch of a new one, Jim Krieg and Jay Oliva, along with a talented and wide-ranging cast and crew found a way to present triumph out of tragedy, hope out of despair, and all while showing off some absolutely incredible superpowered battles.
The altered world The Flash finds himself in, for those unfamiliar with the comic book’s storyline, features a surprising new Batman, a powerless Barry Allen, and a world without Superman that is locked in the throes of a war between two demigods: Wonder Woman and Aquaman, along with their armies of Amazons and Atlanteans. The cameos come fast and furious, with some gone in a flash, showing off familiar heroes and villains, often in different roles than those we normally recognize, which makes for a fun bit for DC fans, playing “spot the allegiance shift!” The action is intense, and it is brutal. This is not one to watch with the kids unless they’re in their teens, with copious deaths and some truly dark moments. Yet somehow, even with the world on the brink of disaster and a horrible choice having to be made, that feeling of hope prevails.
The comic book Flashpoint may get overlooked or pigeon-holed as an event comic merely there to serve as the entry point for the New 52 reboot of the DC Universe, but Flashpoint Paradox shows how and why it can stand on its own. This is one of the best DC Animated movies yet, with grand, sweeping action, tight animation, and expert voice acting all plastered over a deeper sense of emotion and meaning than people might expect from American action animation.
The extras on the Blu-ray for the film take an extended look at The Flash and his villains (giving you fastest man alive fans more ammunition for why he might be the coolest hero at DC Comics), and a sneak peek at the next DC Animated movie: Justice League: War, based off the first arc of the Geoff Johns/Jim Lee New 52 reboot of the series (which directly followed Flashpoint in the comics, too). Indeed, a subtle nod at the end of Flashpoint Paradox even gives us a lead-in to this new version of the DCU, and if this film is any indication, we have a lot to look forward to from the DC Animated future.