How do you begin to describe a Justice League story where the main conflict is caused by Owlman’s existential despair?
Because, despite a dimension traveling good guy Lex Luthor, something about nuclear bombs, a love story for Martian Manhunter and some killer Wonder Woman VS Superwoman action, the plot of Justice League: Crisis On Two Earths is mostly about Owlman building a weapon to destroy Earth Prime and thus the whole multiverse. So, the Justice League and The Crime Syndicate must join forces to stop him. It’s um, not a great plot, but the action more than makes up for it, and of course the bonkers philosophical implications of the multiverse as laid out by Grant Morrison are always a whole lot of fun.
Look, the idea of multiverses is one of those things that when you’re going into a comic book based world you have to accept and move on. It was never a tough leap for me, because I came out of a tradition where it was perfectly normal for a conversation to change from normal dialog to a full on song, so the idea that there were infinite worlds created by a different choice made each second isn’t that hard a jump.
The Crime Syndicate is an unsettling bunch. Though not quite as hard to swallow as Justice League’s Justice Lords, Ultraman, Owlman, Superwoman, Power Ring and Johnny Quick are hard to watch, the perverted and evil version of heroes that I love. That’s not to say they aren’t compelling, Superman’s sense of right and wrong twisted in Ultraman makes him little more than a mafiosa thug with powers. I can’t even get into the shudder that Superwoman gives me, especially as she and Wonder Woman fight one another. Owlman is what would happen if Bruce lost all sense of justice. Alternate Batmen are always interesting to explore and here, with two very distinct performances from Billy Baldwin and James Woods you really see that difference.
In fact James Woods is a true revelation here, but the whole cast performs well. Mark Harmon’s Superman is fantastic, and Chris Noth’s Luthor blows others out of the water. (There’s another missed live action opportunity too, wow, he could have killed that part.) Gina Torres bites into Superwoman, which isn’t shocking since Gina Torres is the freaking wo-man!
Overall the action in Crisis On Two Earths is so good that it makes up for the sloppiness of plotting. The movie was originally conceived as a bridge between Justice League and JLU and while most of that is gone here, enough of it remains to make the ending especially kind of confusing.
Up next is Batman: Under The Red Hood, and OMG YOU GUYS, I’m so excited to watch this one again.