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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Freedom Fighters: The Ray is a compilation movie consisting of the first 12 webisodes of the series airing on CW Seed in six-minute segments in 2017 and 2018. This entry includes both Season 1 and Season 2. The DC/Warner Bros. story is based on the Freedom Fighters comic books that first appeared in the early 1940s, the years in which World War II was fought. In modern day, The Ray, a gay superhero whose powers are light-based, operates on two different Earths in the "multiverse." In this film, he and his team of distinctive superheroes fight crime on Earth I. They fight Nazis on Earth X. Expect lots of cartoon violence throughout, giant battles with all manner of weapons: machine guns, rays, tanks, explosions, and brutal hand-to-hand combat. Females fight alongside their male counterparts. The most powerful villain on Earth X is "Overgirl," a young woman. Part of the story focuses on Ray Terrill, The Ray's alter ego, as he comes to terms with his sexual orientation and looks for the courage to tell his parents. A few mild curse words are heard ("hell," "crap," "ass'), as well as one homophobic insult ("pansy'). Two same-sex kisses are shown. Because of some mature themes and violent cartoon action, the movie is best for teens.
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What's the story?
There are at least two planets called Earth in the multiverse world of FREEDOM FIGHTERS: THE RAY. As this origin story unfolds, Ray Terrill (Russell Tovey), a "mild-mannered" fair housing worker on Earth I (Earth as we know it), becomes a powerful superhero called The Ray. He and his team operate out of Tulsa, Oklahoma, doing the normal superhero tasks. On Earth X, a doppelgänger planet upon which Nazis were the victors of World War II, the Freedom Fighters, with The Ray at the helm, lead the Resistance, still battling the Nazis, their leader, and his supervillains known as The New Reichsmen. In this tale, The Ray has been tasked with destroying the cortex of a superhero android's brain before the Nazis can retrieve it. In enemy hands, the cortex could be used to identify the Resistance's headquarters, membership, and plans. As The Ray learns to master his newly given super powers, his alter ego, Ray Terrill, must also come to terms with his sexual orientation and find the courage to reveal that orientation to his loving family.
Is it any good?
Crisp animation, lots of crash-bang action, and the reveal of a gay superhero (whose alter ego is a tireless worker for the poor) bring this 1940s comic book stalwart into the 21st century. Director Ethan Spaulding and his team have managed a seamless merging of the 12 six-minute webisodes. Sorting out the Freedom Fighters and their alter egos on two different Earths is challenging at times, but the filmmakers have done their best to tell us who's who. As the series continues, which is expected, fans should adapt to the "quick-change artist" feel of Freedom Fighters: The Ray. And having the Nazis to fight again gives superhero buffs a powerful old enemy as well as another popular "What if?" concept.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the violence in Freedom Fighters: The Ray. Do you think that animated violence is less impactful than live-action violence? Why or why not? Why is it important to be aware of the impact of violence on kids?
Ray Terrill (The Ray) is the first gay superhero in the DC family. He wasn't gay when the comic books first appeared. He's also a hard-working social services professional. Do you think the changes reflect changing cultural attitudes toward the LGBTQ community and toward community service? Is it important for such a vast media empire to give a positive voice to such changing attitudes? Why or why not?
Find out the meaning of the film and literary term "origin story." In what ways is Freedom Fighters: The Ray an origin story?
- On DVD or streaming: August 28, 2018
- Cast: Russell Tovey, Jason Mitchell, Dilshad Vadsaria
- Director: Ethan Spaulding
- Studio: Warner Bros. Animation
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Superheroes, Adventures, Friendship, Misfits and Underdogs
- Character Strengths: Perseverance, Teamwork
- Run time: 72 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
- Last updated: March 04, 2020
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