Reviews

Legion of Super-Heroes

4K ULTRA HD BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Warner;
Animated;
$29.98 Blu-ray, $39.99 UHD BD;
Rated ‘PG-13’ for some violence and language.
Voices of Meg Donnelly, Harry Shum Jr., Darren Criss, Matt Bomer, Jensen Ackles, Cynthia Hamidi, Gideon Adlon, Ely Henry, Robbie Daymond, Yuri Lowenthal, Eric Lopez, Darin De Paul, Ben Diskin, Victoria Grace, Jennifer Hale, Daisy Lightfoot, Zeno Robinson.

Though it takes a few narrative shortcuts to set up its premise, Legion of Super-Heroes ultimately turns out to be a fun but offbeat animated adventure.

The film is a continuation of the movie series that began in 2020 with Superman: Man of Tomorrow and includes Justice Society: World War II, Batman: The Long Halloween and Green Lantern: Beware My Power, and thus builds off some elements established in those movies while adding to the canon.

Comic book fans know the Legion of Super-Heroes as an intergalactic team of superheroes serving the United Planets in the 31st century. That said, Legion of Super-Heroes is kind of a misleading title for this movie, as its primary focus is on Supergirl (voiced by Meg Donnelly), Superman’s cousin who lives in the 21st century.

The film begins with a flashback to the destruction of Krypton, and how the teenaged Kara Zor-El was sent watch over her young cousin, Kal-El, who goes on to become Superman. Only her rocket gets knocked off course and, with Kara in a state of suspended animation, takes decades to arrive at Earth, by which time her cousin is now much older than her. (These are the same basic details fleshed out in other portrayals of the Kryptonian characters, from “Smallville” to the CW “Supergirl” series.)

Having grown up in the futuristic Kryptonian culture, Kara has trouble acclimating to life on Earth, so Superman (Darren Criss) decides to send her into the far future to train at the Legion Academy. (The Legion apparently contacted Superman in between movies, explaining why he just happens to have a time machine in his pocket.)

From there, the movie plays out more like a sci-fi version of X-Men: First Class or a “Harry Potter” adventure, as the Academy is threatened by the Dark Circle, a malevolent conspiracy seen in the present-day scenes being investigated by Batman (Jensen Ackles) and other members of the Justice League.

So, Kara must join forces with her fellow cadets to save the Academy and stop the Dark Circle from carrying out its plans for universal domination.

Though some traditional Legion members are among the students, such as Mon-El and Brainiac 5, most of the classic Legionnaires are missing throughout the film as part of the mystery story. So a more accurate title for the film would be something like Supergirl and the Legion Academy. But marketers gotta market.

The futuristic setting and characters lend themselves to animation that is bright and vivid in high-definition and 4K, while costume designs don’t take too many liberties from their look in the comics. Comic book traditionalists should especially appreciate the look of Supergirl, who is thankfully given a version of her classic red skirt outfit, and not one of the politically correct redesigns that have popped up over the years.

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The Blu-ray of Legion of Super-Heroes includes four solid featurettes about the film and its source material. In the 4K combo pack, the Ultra HD disc contains just the film, with the extras found on the included regular Blu-ray.

The five minute “The Legion Behind the Legion” offers interviews with the filmmakers about the making of the movie, while the eight-minute “Down to Earth: The Story of Supergirl” lets the filmmakers expound upon the backstory of Supergirl and why they choose her to anchor the movie. The nine-minute “Meet the Legionnaires” profiles the other characters in the film, and the eight-minute “Brainiac Attack: The Intellect Behind the Super-Villain” looks at the history of the Brainiacs, from the original Superman villain to his ancestor, the heroic Brainiac 5 who became a Legion member.

The Blu-ray also contains the two-part episode “Little Girl Lost” that introduced Supergirl to “Superman: The Animated Series” back in 1998.

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