On suggestion from my friend Akeem, over at Ink Posts and The Written Gallery, I’ve decided to review 2013‘s Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox. Based on the 2011 crossover event, Flashpoint, the film focuses on The Flash finding himself in an alternate reality where Aquaman and Wonder Woman are at war, and there’s a much darker Batman patrolling Gotham. The main theme that’s explored is the idea of how far you would go to change the past and the consequences of your actions.
The film opens with Barry Allen, voiced by Justin Chambers who does a grand job of capturing the flippant tone of the character. Barry reminicses on not being able to save his mother, which then transitions into a fight between him and The Rogues at the Flash Museum. Professor Zoom is revealed to be the mastermind, arming bombs to destroy Central City. Barry calls in The Justice League and the bombs are disposed of. The viewer is pulled into the action immediately, with the animation being slick and stylish.
With a flash of the opening credits, Barry wakes up in a different reality to find his mother is alive and the world is on the brink of chaos. He seeks out Batman, who turns out to be Thomas Wayne, voiced in impressive fashion by Kevin McKidd. In the alternate reality, Bruce died in Crime Alley and Thomas was left to pick up the pieces of a wife who became The Joker. Thomas is a brutal and bitter Batman who isn’t afraid to kill criminals and McKidd is able to channel gruffness, anger and a dark sense of humour that stands out.
Meanwhile, Cyborg is putting together a team to try and stop the war between Aquaman and Wonder Woman. Both are hell-bent on destroying each other, with Wonder Woman having taken over Britain and Aquaman planning to use Captain Atom as a bomb to wipe the Amazons out. The Flash regains his power after being struck by lightning twice, and he, Batman and Cyborg investigate Superman’s whereabouts.
In the new reality, Superman was kept in a government facility for thirty years and treated as an experiment. This version of Superman is skinny and timid, and you feel for how much he’s suffered. After the trio have freed him, they decide to go to London to stop the war.
The battle scenes in England are violent and bloody, staying faithful to the source material. Amazon warriors slice through heads, Aquaman’s arm is lasered off and death is around every corner. The film has been criticised for excessive gore, but I can appreciate it as a mature interpretation of a dark story. Before Deadpool kicked open the door for R rated superhero films, the DC Animated Universe was already taking risks and showing violence is an unavoidable part of life.
During the battle, Flash and Professor Zoom battle and it’s revealed Barry is responsible for causing history to change when he went back in time to save his mother. Batman helps him stop Zoom and Barry is able to repair the damage. In a final touching scene, Barry visits Bruce and gives him a letter that Thomas wrote for him. As Bruce reads the letter he cries, and we’re shown a glimpse of the little boy who lost his parents and fights for their memory.
Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox is a movie that deals with time travel in a mature and thoughtful way. No matter how much we might want to change the past, we have to fight the urge to live there. As Barry’s mum says “accept the things you cannot change. Have the courage to change the things you can, and have the wisdom to know the difference.”