Justice League: The New Frontier

Movie review by
Charles Cassady Jr., Common Sense Media
Justice League: The New Frontier Movie Poster Image
Superheroes face Cold War paranoia in violent animated tale.
  • PG-13
  • 2008
  • 77 minutes

Parents say

age 11+
Based on 3 reviews

Kids say

age 10+
Based on 5 reviews

We think this movie stands out for:

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

The superheroes are all brave and noble, even as they disagree about how to go about the superhero business. Strong sense of teamwork and mutual respect among the heroes, and these good guys even come through when the public, military, and government persecute them. There's a somewhat negative portrait of the United States in the 1950s as paranoid, homicidally racist, and conformity-ridden. The movie ends with President Kennedy's "New Frontier" speech, which connects the pioneering spirit of America not just with space exploration, but also with confronting and defeating racism and prejudice. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

While this is a more "noir" presentation of superheroes, they are also shown to set their egos aside and work together to save the world. Instead of being regarded as heroes, The Justice League is viewed by the government and the citizens to be violent vigilantes who hurt more than they help; they are regarded as "freaks" and even "communists" for having and using their unique skills and talents. 

Violence

Blood flows from superhero and mortal injuries, and dead bodies are seen. Opening scene depicts a suicide-by-gun from the victim's POV. In a flashback to the Korean War, a North Korean soldier is shot and killed at point-blank range; not shown, but blood. A dinosaur's head explodes, and monsters get dismembered. A little boy is threatened as a human sacrifice. Wonder Woman makes a reference to rape endured by the women of a village she has just rescued; the women, when freed, take up arms, and the remains of the soldiers are shown in a bonfire. Knife fight. 

Sex
Language

Occasional profanity: "Son of a bitch," "tear-assing," "damn," "hell." 

Consumerism

Tie-in to vast quantities of DC Comics-related merchandise: action figures, schools supplies, T-shirts, etc. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Social drinking, smoking in a glamorous Vegas setting. Drinking in a neighborhood bar. A character announces, "Have a drink, and smoke 'em if you got 'em." Cigar smoking. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Justice League: The New Frontier is a 2008 animated feature in which beloved superheroes face Cold War paranoia and a spreading international threat. This is a violent cartoon, with blood and dead bodies shown. A little boy is threatened with cult sacrifice by a knife-wielding cult leader. There are two close-up fatal shootings, not directly shown, but there is blood.  After Wonder Woman liberates the women of a Korean village from soldiers who (it's strongly implied) raped them, the women take up the soldiers' dropped arms, kill them, and leave the bodies burning in bonfires. These moments, as well as scenes of suicide by gun (heard, but not shown), the demonic imagery shown as a vast herd of dinosaurs go on the attack, and the overall creepiness of the cult conveyed in the movie, surely played a role in the PG-13 rating, and while some might find the rating a bit harsh, the violence and content are a lot for kids and younger tweens to process. There are also themes of some of the more unsavory aspects of the 1950s, such as racism, the Korean War, McCarthyism, and U.S. government paranoia and treachery.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 13 year old Written byohya August 6, 2010
milder than most PG-13 movies
Adult Written byJon M. May 15, 2018

Over all it is a great movie .

There is some blood and mild language but overall a great movie for 11 and up.
Kid, 12 years old August 26, 2010
violent but PG-13 is a bit high,isn't it.
Kid, 9 years old August 8, 2009

What's the story?

It's the mid-1950s, and America's Cold War pathologies, conformity, and anti-Communist paranoia have even turned against the nation's superheroes, forcing many of them to go underground -- all except Superman, who took a loyalty oath to the U.S. government. But the Flash is berated for keeping his identity secret (and wearing a politically suspect red costume), Batman is a fugitive, and Wonder Woman (as she helps some oppressed peasants in a far-off place called Vietnam) complains that her adoptive country is not as dedicated to truth, justice, and the American Way as it used to be. But the Justice League pulls together again to fight the rise of "the Center," a powerful ancient life-form pre-dating the dinosaurs, who has also decided that humanity is a planetary nuisance and decides to eradicate humankind altogether.

Is it any good?

This is a super-sized story, super-stuffed with super-events that superhero super-fans will consider super-canonical. It's a feature spin-off of the Justice League of America TV cartoon series. In addition to the battle against the Center (an entity so powerful it can put Wonder Woman and Superman both out of action), the audience gets to behold the interconnected origin stories of two other DC superheroes, Martian Manhunter and Green Lantern, as well as the Flash revealing his identity to the woman he loves and Batman's early motivations in partnering up with Robin the Boy Wonder (to present a "friendlier" image to Gotham citizens during the fearful '50s).

It's rather amazing that the overstuffed narrative holds together as well as it does, and some good scriptwriting and clever tie-ins to real-world events and attitudes help to keep all the various super-balls in the air. But viewers who are total strangers to the Justice League gallery of heroes and villains and their involved backstories -- Green Arrow, Hawkman, Gorilla Grodd, Aquaman, the Joker, and more make cameos -- may find it all rather confusing. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the appeal of comics icons. Ask kids who their favorites are: Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, the Flash, Green Lantern, or their competitors over at Marvel like the X-Men? Comics-savvy parents can talk about the "Silver Age" of comics, an era this film deals with, and how this movie weaves into the costumed-superhero mythology the historical offscreen menaces of McCarthyism, Jim-Crow lynch mobs, Communism, and xenophobia -- a DVD "extra" documentary helps with some of the background. 

  • The movie ends with an excerpt of President John F. Kennedy delivering his "New Frontier" speech, in which he connects the pioneer spirit of America not only to space exploration but also to "unconquered pockets of ignorance and prejudice, unanswered questions of poverty and surplus." How does the use of this speech connect the movie's story to its theme? How is this speech, given in 1960, relevant today? 

  • Do you think this movie warrants a PG-13 rating? Why or why not? What themes and content do you think influenced the decision made by the MPAA and its raters? 

Movie details

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