Legion of Super-Heroes, 2023
Directed by Jeff Wamester
Starring the voices of Meg Donnelly, Harry Shum Jr., Yuri Lowenthal, Robbie Daymond, Jennifer Hale, Darren Criss, Jensen Ackles, Matt Bomer, Cynthia Hamidi, Darin De Paul, Ben Diskin, Victoria Grace, Ely Henry, Daisy Lightfoot, Eric Lopex, Zeno Robinson and Gideon Aldon.
Devastated by tragedy, Supergirl struggles to adjust to her new life on Earth. Taking her cousin Superman’s advice, Supergirl leaves their space-time to attend the Academy. There, she quickly makes new friends, as well as a new enemy with old ties: Brainiac 5. But a nefarious plot lurks in the shadows – the mysterious group known as the Dark Circle seeks a powerful weapon held in the Academy’s vault. Find out if the budding heroes can rise to the challenge in this all-new DC Universe Movie!
It is time for a new set of heroes as DC’s next animated film Legion of Super-Heroes focuses on Supergirl and the 31st Century group the Legion of Super-Heroes, introducing the beloved future heroes to a wider audience in their first animated film. The result is Legion being a very fun and energetic film with a fresh appeal from DC’s previous animated films as it focuses on their lesser known characters while giving Supergirl time to shine in what amounts to a coming-of-age tale for her and several other young superheroes.
After escaping Krypton moments before its destruction, Kara Zor-El arrives on Earth decades after she was supposed to and discovers the baby cousin she was meant to protect is now a grown and experienced superhero. Unsure of her place in the world as Supergirl is still unuse to her new powers, Supergirl travels to the far future of the 31st Century where she will train with the Legion of Super-Heroes and their young recruits at the Academy to hone their powers and possibly join the team, but dark forces threaten the Legion and all of time itself unless Supergirl and her new friends can stop them.
It’s great to see a Supergirl centric animated film, especially after building off the popularity she’s recently had with the live-action TV series as well as the success of the Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow graphic novel (which recently became a sold out bestseller after new DC Studios boss James Gunn announced it would be the basis of a new Supergirl film). Screenwriter Josie Campbell and director Jeff Wamester capture Supergirl’s character very well, especially at this point in her life when she is new to Earth.
Supergirl has a bright and fun attitude that is balanced with her fish-out-water perspective, her overzealous aggression and the trauma of losing Krypton, a fact The Winchesters‘ Meg Donnelly conveys very well throughout her nuanced performance as Kara. Donnelly has some great moments as Supergirl, particularly the quieter and dramatic scenes where she is reminiscing about Krypton or bonding with Brainiac 5 and other Legion members.
The story moves at a nice pace and is welcoming for those who don’t know the Legion very well. The film eases viewers into the world, setting and characters without throwing it at them all at once. It also helps the plot doesn’t entirely hinge on a typical action-adventure, but instead plays a bit as a coming-of-age tale for Supergirl, Brainiac 5 and the other young Legion recruits as they attend the Legion Academy. The film takes advantage of the school setting to have some fun with the characters, creating nice banter between the teammates and tension between Supergirl and Brainiac 5 as they compete for the top spot and try settling their family’s blood feud.
When it does come to the action though, the film does not shy away and delivers moments that put the Legion’s various and strange powers to great use. From Arms Fall Off Boy’s self-titled ability to Invisible Kid learning how to actually become invisible, their powers are utilized in creative ways, especially when they have to sneak around or fight as a team in the big battles. The animation is impressive as it makes each hero distinct and displays their abilities, whether its Supergirl’s standard powerset or the team’s other odd powers, quite well with a vibrant colour palette. Even during the quieter moments the animation emphasizes the emotional states of the characters through their facial expressions or body language, making every element nicely detailed.
Of the rest of the cast, Harry Shum Jr. is a standout alongside Donnelly as Brainiac 5. He captures Brainiac’s ego, intelligence and compassion as he slowly opens up more to Supergirl regarding his desire to be known for something more than the villainous Brainiac name. Donnelly and Shum share great chemistry that makes it easy to see why Supergirl and Brainiac 5 are the other’s foil. Yuri Lowenthal is great as Mon-El, a Superman and Krypton fanboy who is eager to prove himself worthy of their mantle, and Daisy Lightfoot is also memorable as Triplicate Girl, a hero who can make two copies of herself. It is a very good cast that is clearly having fun while taking their characters seriously.
Included in the 4K and Blu-ray release are the following features:
Behind The Legion (4:40 min) – Producer Jim Krieg and screenwriter Josie Campbell discuss the film’s development from the storytelling and animation process. Also featured is Supergirl and Mon-El voice actors Meg Donnelly and Yuri Lowenthal on how they approached their roles.
Down to Earth: The Story of Supergirl (8:21 min) – Campbell, Krieg and Donnelly discuss how Kara’s history makes her distinct from her cousin, particularly when she is brand new to Earth. They share their interesting insights into Supergirl’s character and her arc throughout the film.
Meet The Legionnaires (9:24 min) – A further dive into the Legion characters seen in the film and what their appeal is for Legion fans, even some of the out there heroes like Bouncing Boy and Arms Fall Off Boy.
Brainiac Attack: The Intellect Behind the Super-Villain (8:14 min) – Brainiac is one of Superman’s most well known and evil villains and this feature sees Krieg and Campbell explore his motivations and Brainiac 5’s desire to shape a future that is removed from his evil predecessors. They also discuss the relationship between Brainiac 5 and Supergirl from the similarities they share to their growing romance.
Two episodes from Superman: The Animated Series, the two-part ‘Little Girl Lost’ which introduced Supergirl to the DCAU.
Overall, Legion of Super-Heroes is another win for DC animation’s streak of great films. It is fun, captivating and heartfelt with its focus on the characters coming-of-age coupled with great performances led by Donnelly and Shum. Wamester, Campbell and the rest of the creative team achieve a nice introduction to the Legion that pays off on an intriguing setting and heroes with well done and tense battles. Whether you’re a Legion, Supergirl or just plain DC fan in general, Legion of Super-Heroes is likely to give you plenty of enjoyment.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★
Ricky Church – Follow me on Twitter for more movie news and nerd talk.