Today’s post is more a Public Service Announcement than an opinion piece.
You’re a parent. You turn on NetFlix looking for something to occupy the young ones for a while. You come across “Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox.”
“The Super Friends!” you think. “That will be perfect for the kids to watch. Such good role models — the Flash and Wonder Woman and Aquaman…”
Don’t do it. DO. NOT. DO. IT. Unless you want to scar your children for life.
If you’ve ever wondered what would happen if Quentin Tarantino made a superhero movie — “The Flashpoint Paradox” is probably as close as you’re going to get.
But before we get down to the grim and gritty of this DC original animated movie, we should consider the state of the superhero here in the early days of the 21st century.
The recent success of “Deadpool” has raised a lot of chatter about the appropriateness of R-rated superhero movies. Warner Bros. have already announced they plan to release an R-rated version of “Batman v. Superman” for home video. Disney has responded that they will never make an R-rated Marvel movie. (Fox has the rights to Deadpool, even though he’s a Marvel character).
Personally, I think it depends on the character. Deadpool, the Punisher, Wolverine — these guys really don’t belong in a PG world (Don’t you ever wonder why Logan never gets blood on his claws?). And then there’s Superman, Captain America, Spider-Man. These guys should never venture much beyond PG-13.
And then there’s Batman. One of the things that makes Batman great is that you can plug him into anything and he works. Batman appeals to all ages and he works just as well in goofy situations and grim noir works. Take away Batman’s right to go really dark and you lose some of the greatest Batman stories ever told.
Now, two things that really don’t belong on the dark side of the road are The Flash, Fastest Man Alive, and the Justice League, DC’s all-star superteam (The Avengers shouldn’t go dark either. Good on Disney.)
“The Flashpoint Paradox” is a 90-minute animated feature based on a comic book story that I’m told wasn’t nearly as gory as the movie. The story itself is actually pretty good. It’s another one of those alternate universe tales — The Flash messes with the timeline and finds himself in a world where young Bruce Wayne was shot by the mugger and his father becomes Batman; a world on the brink of extinction due to a war between Atlantis and the Amazons; a world where Superman never existed.
Alternate universe stories are pretty overdone in comics but they can often be entertaining. This one fits the bill. This is actually one of the best animated features DC has made. But the violence. Oh my god.
Would you like to know how the war between Atlantis and Amazon Island (I can’t be bothered to look up the spelling of Thymescaria) started? Well, Aquaman and Wonder Woman have sex in front of Aquaman’s wife Mera (granted, they didn’t know she was there). Mera shows up later to kill Wonder Woman but instead Diana stabs her in the heart, then CUTS HER HEAD OFF. And holds it up for the audience to see.
Oh, Diana also strangles Steve Trevor to death, and kills young Billy Batson after forcing him to speak the magic word “Shazam!” The movie is chock full of shootings and stabbings and arrows through the head. There’s some language that would make Captain America blush. But the masterpiece of schlock that is “The Flashpoint Paradox” comes when Batman shoots a man in the back of the head. We know Batman did it because we see him standing behind the villain through the HOLE IN THE MAN’S HEAD.
What’s even more amazing about this movie is that it’s rated PG-13. (And who pays attention to ratings on animated features? I didn’t realize what it was rated until after I watched it and had to find out.)
If “The Flashpoint Paradox” is considered PG-13 fare, I cannot imagine what Batman and Wonder Woman would have to do to get an R.
Well, probably have sex.