Nearly every seat was filled inside the Paley Center for Thursday night's screening of Justice League: Doom. The latest in DC's string of direct-to-DVD releases, Doom will hit the streets on Feb. 28. Fans can also catch it on-demand beginning Feb. 21.
Loosely based on Mark Waid's JLA story Tower of Babel, Doom is significant in that it is the final script from Dwayne McDuffie, the comic book and television writer who died last year at age 49. McDuffie previously scripted All-Star Superman and Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths. He also wrote for the animated series Justice League, among many other projects.
During the panel following the film, voice director Andrea Romano commented on McDuffie's work, stressing that he made comic books "actable," that he had a gift for turning "thoughts into dialogue." It's a special ability to turn comic books into scripts, she added.
This much rings true for those of us who have stopped counting how many times we've walked out of a theater disappointed in the latest comic book-turned-film. Indeed, DC's animated, direct-to-DVD offerings are often a much better bet than much of what hits the big screen. That was acknowledged last night when one audience member asked director Lauren Montgomery, who has worked on a number of DC titles, "How does it feel to direct a better Green Lantern movie..." with boisterous, fanboy/-girl laughter erupting over the end of his question.
Take Doom as an example. Its connection to the source material is mostly in terms of general plot and themes. Some of the characters and other elements have been changed, so it's best to watch this as a stand-alone piece or as part of the animated DC canon. Bruce Timm, co-creator of Batman: The Animated Series (and the frequently cosplayed character Harley Quinn), is the executive producer for Doom, and has been for a number of other DVD releases. With that in mind, you can expect the same quality, and a similar aesthetic, to the acclaimed 1990s series. Montgomery and Romano do a wonderful of job of cultivating genuinely emotional moments throughout the feature.