Warner Bros. Animation and DC present Justice League: Crisis on Infinite Earths, Part One on digital platforms from January 9, 2024. The film comes to 4K UHD + Blu-ray SteelBook on January 29, 2024.
Death is coming. Worse than death: oblivion. Not just for our Earth, but for everyone, everywhere, in every universe! Against this ultimate destruction, the mysterious Monitor has gathered the greatest team of Super Heroes ever assembled. But what can the combined might of Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman, The Flash, Green Lantern and hundreds of Super Heroes from multiple Earths even do to save all of reality from an unstoppable antimatter Armageddon?!
The end is nigh Super Friends. Whether the impending arrival of DC Studios triggered this moment or otherwise, the so-called Tomorrowverse is in serious danger as Warner Bros. Animation sets out to produce an ambitious three-part adaption of the classic Crisis On Infinite Earths comic book from 1985.
Written by Marv Wolfman and illustrated by George Perez, to whom the film is dedicated, the legendary series tells of the end of the DC multiverse in its first form. Here, long-time DC animation producer Jim Krieg attempts to make his mark by bringing the story in to the current continuity of DC animated movies. For this first part that means sharpening the focus, telling a story which puts Barry Allen (Matt Bomer) squarely in centre stage.
In a similar vein to how the Arrowverse adapted the series back in 2019, Krieg’s version makes use of this continuities already established cast. Fleshing those characters out with a number of high profile new casting from across multiple Earths. But don’t be mistaken. This is high concept stuff. In the space of 92 minutes the audience is tasked with getting to grips with multiple character doubles, Earths and a multiverse ending threat. Thankfully Krieg is a natural. First teaming on WB’s The Batman animated series back in 2009, if there’s one thing he knows it’s DC.
In the wrong hands Crisis On Infinite Earths could be a confusing mess. But here Krieg is able to open up the storytelling in such a way that even the most casual of fans could keep up. Whilst Barry Allen has always been key to the Crisis storyline, the expanded focus is able to help bring the audience along for the ride. His relationship with Iris (Ashleigh LaThrop) is central to the success of the film. Providing both a romantic subplot but also serving to ratchet up the tension when things are getting rough.
We touch on different points in their relationship as a way of illustrating Barry’s abilities to traverse time and space. It gives Bomer and LaThrop the chance to play both characters at different stages in their lives. Having previously only spent little time with them, Krieg’s adaption allows us to feel like we’ve seen their entire lifetime together. So when push comes to shove it’s impossible not to feel heartbreak when both characters meet their inevitable fates.
As expected, the supporting cast of Crisis On Infinite Earths, Part One is huge. Most of them returning voices from the last four years of storytelling dating back to Superman: Man of Tomorrow. Whilst this is undoubtedly Bomer’s moment to shine. It’s incredible to have Stana Katic (Wonder Woman), Jensen Ackles (Batman) and Darren Criss (Superman) sharing the screen. Criss has been a wonderful Superman. Bringing a great strength and versatility to the Man of Steel. Here he gets to play the role twice, picking up on plot threads from last year’s Justice League: Warworld.
This is Krieg’s cast and he does his best to put them front and centre. There’s also plenty of room for Meg Donnelly who returns as Supergirl from Legion of Super-Heroes alongside cast mate Harry Shum Jr. as Brainiac 5. Other supporting players such as Alexandra Daddario’s Lois Lane, Alastair Duncan’s Alfred and Matt Lanter’s Blue Beetle also appear. Lanter being a big surprise as his Blue Beetle arrives from a short film originally released in 2021. Aldis Hodge also returns as John Stewart aka Green Lantern alongside Jimmi Simpson from 2022’s Green Lantern: Beware My Power.
The list is endless. But what’s most important is that Krieg is able to balance out his script. Giving key moments to the core cast whilst intricately weaving in other faces, new and old alike. There are moments, like the introduction of Zack Callison as Dick Grayson/Robin which feel like an acceleration of the Tomorrowverse storyline. But that is the symptom of studio developments and production timelines and not the fault of the writers. Even when characters pop up out of the blue it still really just adds to the excitement.
With any storyline like this. Particularly one as well documented and well read as Crisis. The ultimate test is whether the film, even in just this first part, can elicit an emotional response. As the heroes of the Tomorrowverse gather with their loved ones and await their fate I felt an huge wave of anxiety. Whilst their world crumbles around them I genuinely felt a great sense of loss for these heroes. In that respect the film more than did its job. My only criticism comes in not leaving more of a cliffhanger to lead in to part two. Whilst there is still plenty more story to tell, it feels like part one rounds out this chapter too well and could have done more to keep the audience hooked.
Visually Crisis On Infinite Earths, Part One follows on the from the design work which began in Man of Tomorrow. We’ve seen small tweaks to the Otto Schmidt inspired designs over the course of the seven films leading up to this. There were a big creative leap in Justice Society: World War II and again in Batman: The Long Halloween. But this is easily the best version of this world we have seen so far. The animators have to work overtime to craft the subtle differences between Earths. But also between different versions of the same character. This small but necessary creative decisions are all instrumental in making the film succeed. But succeed it does.
A film on the scale of Crisis also offers up plenty of opportunity for the kind of large scale setpieces this animation team thrives on. From designing the look of the antimatter wave, to the giant tuning fork style towers which fans of the comics will no doubt recognise. Everything looks and feels organic to both the source material and the Tomorrowverse. At the end of the day, I suspect even this continuities biggest detractors will feel a pang of guilt at seeing it all fall apart at the hands of the Anti-Monitor.
There will be plenty of time to discuss the changes that the film makes from the comic book. For now I want to sit back and wait for parts two and three before assessing their impact on the final product. For now just sit back and enjoy what is easily one of the top tier DC animated movies.
An exhilarating adaption of one of the greatest comic book storylines of all time. Crisis On Infinite Earths is able to honour its source material whilst simultaneously becoming the ultimate culmination of the Tomorrowverse continuity.