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Justice League and the Fatal Five duke it out at WonderCon premiere

By Don Kaye
Justice League vs the Fatal Five

The Justice League took on the villainous future villains the Fatal Five as the latest addition to the DC universe of animated movies, Justice League vs. the Fatal Five, premiered Friday night (Mar. 29) at WonderCon.

The 34th entry in the DC stable of original animated films opens in the 31st century, as the mentally unstable Starboy (voiced by Elyes Gabel) and the Legion of Superheroes face three members of the deadly Fatal Five, including Mano (Philip Anthony-Rodriguez), Tharok (Peter Jessup) and the Persuader (Matthew Yang King) intent on freeing fellow members Emerald Empress (Sumalee Montano) and Validus.

Their plan? Travel back in time to harness the power of freshly minted Green Lantern Jessica Cruz (Diane Guerrero), using it to both free the Empress and destroy Earth to prevent the existence of superheroes in the present and future. But Starboy follows hot on their heels, and after a few complications, brings the modern Justice League -- Batman, Wonder Woman, Superman, Miss Martian and Mr. Terrific -- on his mission.

Like just about all of the previous DC animated films, Justice League vs. the Fatal Five is heavy on action and comic book imagery, and seems at times to be ripped right from the pages of DC books. At this point in the continuity, a casual viewer might be a little lost, but the movie barrels along briskly enough and captures the flavor of a quick comic book read in a way that feature films often can't.

Following the screening, many of the cast members, along with executive producer Bruce Timm, writers Eric Carrasco and Jim Krieg, and director Sam Liu sat for a panel discussion of the film.

The movie marks a reunion, with longtime DC voice actors Kevin Conroy (Batman), Susan Eisenberg (Wonder Woman) and George Newbern (Superman) reprising their roles as the Trinity together for the first time since TV's Justice League Unlimited ended in 2006 (all three have shown up separately since then in various entries).

For Eisenberg, it was "magical" being back in the recording booth with Timm, Conroy and Newbern, with Conroy -- who has the longest tenure playing Batman of any actor -- saying that getting back into the roles at this stage was like putting on "a comfortable suit."

During the fan question portion, Timm was asked how Batman is different when he's with the Justice League as opposed to when he's alone. "Batman works differently when he's with the League," the DC animated mastermind replied. "When he's on his own, the stories tend to be darker. When he's wih the League, he tends to be a smartass. He's more snarky and Kevin can nail that."

Timm also promised that if Justice League vs. the Fatal Five does well, more movies featuring the Trinity from Justice League Unlimited will be on the way.

Justice League vs. the Fatal Five is available on digital starting today and arrives on Blu-ray/DVD on April 16.