Must-See: Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox
Sometimes it’s easy to see why certain heroes don’t set the world on fire. Most people dismiss The Flash as the dude who runs fast, and are really only scratching the surface. When great writers expand on canon and abilities, sometimes something magical happens.
Geoff Johns has been instrumental in rebooting the majority of the DC Universe. He’s handled writing duties of pretty much all of the Justice League’s main members with stints on Superman, Aquaman, Green Lantern, Batman and The Flash. He also spearheaded Flashpoint – 60 odd issues which reshaped the DC Universe.
The Flashpoint event was the catalyst to relaunch DC heroes and usher in the New 52 plotline which took the heroes you’ve grown up with an tweaked their history. It didn’t fly in the face of the origin stories, rather changed the nature of each hero’s relationship with other powerful entities. It was a bold move which gave DC the opportunity to shine its characters in a whole new light.
Central to The Flash’s and all speedsters’ abilities is the Speed Force. This allows so much more than just running fast. It allows The Flash to vibrate at high frequencies to pass through matter, dimensions and even time. His tragic back story sees him orphaned as a boy, coming home too late on his birthday to find his mother murdered.
A young Barry Allen never forgave himself for not getting home fast enough and this grief and regret consumes him. When Barry awakens from a nap at his desk to find his mother alive and well, he realises he’s not in Kansas any more and begins searching for answers, and who’s behind this alternate version of reality. Little does he realise that the changes to the timeline have drastic repercussions for the entire planet.
Wonder Woman and Aquaman, and their respective Amazons and Atlantians, are at war. With Europe decimated by a tidal wave and the UK invaded and now renamed New Themyscira, the two powerhouses’ enmity is threatening to tear the world apart.
Bands of heroes and villains valiantly join together in vain attempts to save humanity. The significant changes to the time stream and the follow on ripple effects are staggering. Leaving Earth’s mortal inhabitants at the mercy of two god-like beings as they seek only each other’s blood, and let the planet’s fate be damned.
Desperate to make sense of events, Barry seeks out the world’s greatest detective for answers, Batman. He discovers a very different incarnation of The Dark Knight, one who’s not afraid to use forearms and kills quite flippantly.
Cyborg is the most powerful being on the planet, working for the US Government, Hal Jordan never became Green Lantern, Superman is no-where to be found and worst of all, no-one has even heard of The Flash. Barry finds himself powerless in a world he can’t understand, or do anything to change.
The Flash works frantically with Batman to recreate the events of his superpower imbuing accident and to form some sort of team to stop Wonder Woman and Aquaman from tearing the world apart. If that wasn’t enough, he’s also got to uncover the mastermind behind the alternate timeline and try to put this universe back on track. No pressure.
I have no intention of spoiling the plot as Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox numbers as one of my favourite DC Animated features and takes you on a journey you really don’t expect. Director Jay Oliva has not only managed to artfully retell the events of the five issue main Flashpoint arc, but dutifully pepper in key events from the surrounding 60 issues as a nod to fans who have read the story in its entirety. The film has a distinct almost anime style to it which really sets it apart from other DC properties.
Voice director Andrea Romano does another outstanding job pulling together a cast of unlikely candidates, who all really knock it out of the park. Nathan Fillion (Castle) returns as Green Lantern/Hal Jordan as does Sam Daly as Superman, both performing wonderfully. Fillion as Hal Jordan in particular is an absolute hoot, but it’s the newly cast heroes who will raise your eyebrows.
Justin Chambers is fantastic as The Flash/Barry Allen, bringing equal levels of sensitivity and strength to both the hero and the man behind the mask who just wanted to save his mother. A barely recognisable Kevin McKidd (Rome) is amazing as the darker universe’s Batman, with a deep timber to his version of the Caped Crusader and always carrying a hint of pain in his voice, and Michael B. Jordan (Chronicle) exhibits a naivety which belies his powerful form as Cyborg, perfectly capturing the essence of the character.
The biggest surprises were Cary Elwes (The Princess Bride) as Aquaman and C. Thomas Howell (Southland) as Reverse Flash. Elwes brought such effortless majesty to the ruler of the oceans and immediately instilled the sense that he wasn’t someone to be trifled with. C. Thomas Howell played Eobard Thawne/Reverse Flash with a mocking undercurrent to his inflection, smarmy and always baiting, he was a delightfully unexpected foil.
Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox is everything I wasn’t expecting from an animated feature. It threw vocal talent I didn’t expect centred around a protagonist I only recently became familiar with and blew my mind. This is a brutal and uncompromising reimagining of superheroes that will shock and amaze you and at its core, is about two heroes desperately attempting to deal with loss of a loved one. The closing moments are absolutely magnificent and sure to have you shedding a tear or two. I know I did.