DC’s ongoing line of animated original movies continue with Legion of Superheroes, a new adaptation of the beloved 31st Century superheroes. Originally created by writer Otto Binder and artist Al Plastino for 1958’s Adventure Comics (Issue 247), this eclectic mix of super-powered teenagers from the high-tech future remain rather obscure outside of the hardcore DC fandom, despite headlining countless comic-book series, guesting in various video games and tie-ins, and even starring in their own animated series during the late noughties. This new movie from director Jeff Wamester (Justice Society: World War II) sets to redress the balance somewhat by throwing Supergirl into the mix and exploring the Legion in there own epic animated movie.
Unfortunately, the end result is rather lacking in every conceivable way. The immediate problem is just how incredibly dull the film is. Legion of Superheroes has an inherent concept at its core that shows plenty of promise, but the film does very little with the characters that hasn’t been done better elsewhere (various animated series have portrayed and explored the Legion in far more interesting ways). Here, the Legionnaires are largely sidelined by the presence of Supergirl (Meg Donnelly), whose various turmoils take up the majority of the run-time, thus leaving little space for actual Legion characters to get any kind of development. Of the countless characters introduced, only Brainiac 5 (Harry Shum Jr.) and Mon-El (Yuri Lowenthal) make any kind of impact dramatically, whilst the others are relegated to mostly background window dressing.
The plot is pretty tedious for the most part, and the ‘surprise reveal’ of the villain is achingly obvious from the moment they are first introduced. There’s also some very odd pacing decisions early on which scuppers proceedings, particularly after the opening prologue which suddenly skips years ahead with just a bit of awkward forced dialogue to serve as half-baked exposition for what happened in-between. The okay-ish animation does kick up a notch in the more vibrant and fast-paced action scenes, but everything else here feels stilted and samey – from the voice performances and the story to the background designs and the music, the whole endeavour feels very paint-by-numbers and uninspired.
There’s a hint at an ongoing plot for future sequels during the post-credits scene but whatever comes next in DC’s line of Original Animated Movies seriously needs to up its game. As it stands, Legion of Superheroes feels like a wasted opportunity for the most part, and ultimately fails to do anything interesting with its cast of colourful characters.
The Blu-ray release comes packaged with four featurettes, but none of these offer much in the way of behind-the-scenes insights. The Legion Behind the Legion (4 mins) features cast and crew chatting about the creation of the movie’s story, but beyond a few snippets of the animation process, there’s nothing much of interest here despite the usual PR fluff. The remaining features – Down to Earth: The Story of Supergirl (8 mins), Meet the Legionnaires (9 mins) and Brainiac Attack: The Intellect Behind the Super-Villain (8 mins) simply repeat information about the characters that can be found in the film (the lack of reference to the wider history of the characters and their comic counterparts is a disappointing omission).
The disc also has a few random previews of previously released DC Animated Movies, plus two exemplary episodes of Superman: The Animated Series which feature Supergirl’s first animated appearance – by far the most worthwhile and enjoyable content on the disc!