It picks up directly where the teaser from War left us off, but Throne of Atlantis sidelines Aquaman in his own story for about half of the running time. This is a damn shame because it is at its most fun and engaging when it places the Justice League in the backseat to the craziness of Aquaman’s story. His name is Arthur, and the comics have never shied away from treating his mythology as Arthurian in scope and emotional textures. Justice League: Throne of Atlantis flirts with these moments and tones then pulls away from them to give us more of the Justice League.
How odd that they decided to make Aquaman a mere supporting player in a film that places him in the center of the cover and title’s implications would say otherwise. In fact, the presence of the Justice League often feels unnecessary. Much of the film combines parts of “The Trench,” the first solo storyline from Aquaman in the New 52 continuity. There’s just so much story to tell involving Aquaman, his origins, and his mythology that spending the first 30 minutes with the league is just…odd.
Oh well, at least this thing is wonderfully animated and with a solid voice cast. Michelle Monaghan’s shout-heavy Wonder Woman has been replaced by the regal, tough vocal work of Rosario Dawson. Can you say upgrade? Justin Kirk’s irksome Hal Jordan has been replaced by the more playful, rascally voice of Nathan Fillion, and the character falls into place. Shemar Moore remains as Cyborg, but someone told him to turn down the gruffness and chest-heavy speaking and he sounds more comfortable in the role. The replacement of Alan Tudyk with Jerry O’Connell as Superman was unexpected, but man is O’Connell fun in the role.
Then there’s the newest cast members, like Sumalee Montano as a warrior version of Mera, Sam Witwer as Ocean Master, Harry Lennix as Black Manta, and Matt Lanter as Aquaman. I love all of them in their respective roles, with each of them perfectly capturing the vibe and emotional textures of their characters. In fact, I want more of Lanter as Aquaman in these films. Give me an entire solo outing from him, with Montano and Witwer returning, and I would be one happy comic book guy.
Justice League: Throne of Atlantis is bloodless in comparison to the Justice League episodes “The Enemy Below,” but it’s entertaining enough in its own action-heavy way. While “The Enemy Below” managed to place the emphasis on Aquaman’s tragedy and history, Throne of Atlantis seems unconcerned with exploring any of its characters. It just wants to set up two sides on the board and watch them attack each other. It’s a fun 70 minutes, but it could have been so much more.
And, yes, there’s another post-credits stinger. This one hinting at the Legion of Doom. Make of that what you will.