A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Justice League: Gods and Monsters is a 2015 movie that is a more "noir" story featuring the well-known superheroes Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman. These aren't the pure-hearted superheroes many parents grew up with in the cartoons and on the TV shows of their youth; rather, in this version, the superheroes are conflicted and wrestling with inner demons as well as larger external issues such as unchecked power and whether or not the ends justify the means in fighting crime. There is constant violence -- battle scenes, shootings, explosions, neck bites by demonic monsters, and, in one instance, a death via a sword through the chest. These superheroes curse ("s--t," "bastard," "bitch") and display a cynical attitude toward the world around them. Some innuendo. A woman is described as being "orgasmic" over receiving some news. Wonder Woman wears a revealing top that barely covers her breasts. A female android is fully nude, and her breasts are visible. For those who enjoy the darker side of these superheroes, this movie is very enjoyable; it even puts new twists on the origin stories. For families looking for more lighthearted fare, this is not the best choice.
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What's the story?
In Metropolis, Superman (Benjamin Bratt), Batman (Michael C. Hall), and Wonder Woman (Tamara Taylor) have formed the Justice League, in which vigilante justice is served above and beyond the law, with the government more or less looking the other way, so long as the ends justify the means. However, many citizens are wary of their unchecked power and begin to protest. As the protests increase, a group of esteemed scientists is murdered one by one, and the Justice League is clearly being framed for the killings. When the President orders their arrests, the three heroes/antiheroes must find a way to prove their innocence, fight the very people they've been trying to protect, and justify their existence in Metropolis.
Is it any good?
Fans of the more "noir" characterizations of the familiar superheroes Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman will find much to enjoy here. These versions are cynical, conflicted, and not all that nice. Themes of unchecked power, justice, and whether or not the ends justify the means are fully explored here, as are the origin stories of these three heroes/antiheroes. The result is fully developed characters, complex stories, and engaging action.
As in the other dark versions of these superheroes we've seen in recent years, this movie is not for families wanting more lighthearted fare or for parents expecting the more kitschy versions of these heroes they grew up with. But for those who welcome more "adult" versions of these immortal characters, this is one of the best stories out there.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about violence in movies. Did the violence seem necessary to the overall story, or did it seem gratuitous?
How are these versions of the well-known superheroes Superman, Wonder Woman, and Batman similar to and different from other versions you've seen in movies and on TV?
What were some of the issues this movie addressed? What are your thoughts on these issues?
- On DVD or streaming: July 28, 2015
- Cast: Benjamin Bratt, Michael C. Hall, C. Thomas Howell
- Director: Sam Liu
- Studio: Warner Home Video
- Genre: Fantasy
- Topics: Superheroes, Adventures, Book Characters
- Run time: 72 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: Violence throughout and suggestive content including nudity.
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