Based on one of the most popular comic book story arcs Flashpoint written by Geoff Johns which alters the course of history of the DC characters, Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox is the first direct to video animated film that kicks off a shared universe. In Flashpoint Barry Allen/ The Flash (Justin Chambers) wakes up to a vastly different world than the previous day. He doesn’t have any of his powers, his mother is alive, his wife Iris is married to a different person, the Justice League does not exist, and Bruce Wayne was the one that was killed in crime alley while his father Thomas Wayne (Kevin McKidd) becomes Batman while Martha is the Joker.
Safe to say this altered reality is a strange and confusing one to wake up to. Thanks to Professor Eobard Thawne/Zoom (C. Thomas Hall) Barry Allen attempts to course correct putting the universe back to normal on top of stopping Aquaman (Cary Elwes) and Wonder Woman (Vanessa Marshall) from destroying Europe. With the help of Cyborg (Michael B. Jordan), Barry saves Superman (Sam Daly) who is a prisoner of the United State government on top of finding his way back to his own reality.
Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox is ambitious in its adaptation of the 2011 comic book story arc it takes its inspiration from. Having never read the actual books, the film does its job in explaining all the tiny minute details while setting up the few major conflicts Barry Allen must face and correct. Credit is due to the script written by Jim Krieg who is able to balance all these storylines in the short runtime. Because of the shorter runtime, the foundation must be established immediately that has to remain airtight throughout the events of the story. No one scene lingers too long nor cuts corners leaving much on the table to want more.
“You’re one hell of a messenger. Thank you.”
The Flashpoint Paradox’s strength is in its characters. We all know the Justice League, so no origins are necessary, and Jim Krieg treats the audience intelligently as if we’re all familiar with a different Batman. Even though this is mainly Flash’s story, everyone around him is affected. Thomas Wayne and Bruce’s stories are the most poignant besides Barry’s because of the circumstances that turns Bruce into the crime fighter. Both Thomas and Bruce’s intersecting storyline pays off yet both characters don’t once interact with each other. In the final moments we can sympathize with Bruce as he finally is able to interact with a version of his father.
Like majority of superhero’s Barry Allen’s story is a tragedy. As a young boy his mother was murdered leaving his father Henry West as the main suspect. Henry Allen is innocent as we see with this film. It was really Zoom who ran so fast that he time travelled and killed Nora Allen (Grey DeLisle-Griffin). With all that is going on, Barry’s story is the backbone for The Flashpoint Paradox. His motivations for wanting to remain in the alternative reality and go back to his own is developed well enough to root for him to end up in either. He just wants to spend time with his mom, to make up for lost times that he was robbed of.
Led by an all-star studded voice cast including Kevin Conroy & Ron Pearlman as Bruce Wayne and Slade Wilson respectively, Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox accomplishes what the live action films have struggled with – making its core group of heroes relatable especially Superman. In this reality, Superman/Kal-El is treated like an alien, he is captured and studied like an animal. When Batman, Cyborg and Flash save him, we can feel his pain and suffering and thus relate to him in ways the live action versions haven’t been able to capture those characteristics.
For an animated film, Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox doesn’t pull its punches. Filled with a healthy mix of story and violence, a lot more blood and carnage is infused than what we’re used to with a DC property. That’s the beauty of animation, director Jay Oliva is able to get away with the brutality and still have a favorable rating to not exclude key demographics.
“Her hero; how noble. Oh, wait! You didn’t stop JFK from getting assassinated or make sure Hitler stayed in art school. You saved your mommy. You missed her. And in a supreme act of selfishness shattered history like a rank amateur, turned the world into a living hell moments away from destruction and *I’m* the villain?”
The Flashpoint Paradox can come off as a confusing narrative with many moving parts and storylines to set up, develop and conclude in a manner that feels satisfactory to the comic book. Almost like a Guy Ritchie film with the storyline jumping from one character to the next without hesitation. With the sheer number of characters on screen in conflict with one another, the film doesn’t lose any control. Everything is as grounded to the reality we are in as it seems even if Aquaman and the Atlanteans are at war with Wonder Woman and the amazons.
Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox is a solid entry in the DC Universe Animated Original Movies that serves as the foundation of the shared universe that mirrors the comic books. A story that sounds confusing on paper is executed well thanks to the script and direction as well as the strong voice talents behind some of the greatest characters ever created. If I were to rate Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox, I’d rate it a 4 out of 5.
So, tell me, have you seen Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox and if so, what do you think about it? Do you agree or disagree with me? Comment below or send me an email and let me know what you think.
Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox is directed by Jay Oliva is Rated PG-13 and has a 100% on Rotten Tomatoes. Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox was released on July 30, 2013 and has a runtime of 1 hour and 21 minutes. Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox can be streamed on HBO Max.