Our obsession with superheroes has now extended to their pets – talk about superhero fatigue. But in an era of anti-heroes, expanding universes, multiverses and beyond getting the limelight, DC League of Super-Pets offers a simple, solid premise that has its foundation in the funny books, now brought to the big screen.
In the comics, Superman has not one, but several pets with powers – Krypto the dog, Streaky the cat, Beppo the monkey and Comet the horse, while Batman has one – Ace the Bat-Hound. So what happens when Krypto and Ace have to be the ones to save their masters? Banking on the star power of Dwayne Johnson as Krypto, and Kevin Hart as Ace, this animated movie is a mini Justice League of Pets, where Krypto and Ace assemble a group of animals, freshly imbued with superpowers, to save the day. There’s Chip (Diego Luna) the squirrel, PB (Vanessa Byer) the pig, and Merton (Natasha Lyonne) the turtle, as they save mankind from Lulu (Kate McKinnon), a deranged guinea pig who idolises Lex Luthor (Marc Maron).
As a kid’s movie, the premise is also rather simple, in that the animals have abilities similar to their Justice League counterparts. Krypto, as the pet of Superman (John Krasinski), has a host of abilities, while Ace is immune to pain and has emotions locked down and guarded, like Batman (Keanu Reeves). Chip is able to conjure green energy, something similar to the Green Lantern (Dascha Polanco) and is a reference to fellow Green Lantern, Ch’p, who in the comics, is a talking chipmunk or squirrel. PB can shrink and grow in size, and has a clear obsession with Wonder Woman (Jameela Jamil) and Merton, who has super speed is the perfect companion for – you guessed it – The Flash (John Early). Other Justice League members like Aquaman (Jermaine Clement) and Cyborg (Daveed Diggs) also make an appearance and gain some friends of their own towards the end of the movie.
The simplicity of the story is welcomed, especially for adult viewers who want to switch their brains off for a few minutes, which also makes the film easy to digest for children. Written by Jared Stern and John Whittington, who have writing credits on The Lego Ninjago Movie and The Lego Batman Movie, DC League of Super-Pets also shares the same deadpan sense of humour, winks for adults and cartoon harmlessness for children. Most of the jokes land well, especially when it pokes fun at certain DC Comics characters, and even Marvel Comics.
There’s slapstick humour and elastic physics – lots of explosions and destruction but no harm – for the children and subtle swipes at Musk-like billionaires and our heroes’ trauma that will get adults in stitches (a news headline after Luthor’s arrest reads ‘Wealthy Person Actually Goes To Jail’, while Batman happens to be the victim of plenty of ‘kid with no parent’ jokes).
Such jokes not only remind viewers to take the movie easy and enjoy the non-seriousness of it, but it also provides a tangential connection to the DCEU.
DC League of Super-Pets seems to try and insert childlike wonder and earnestness into the superhero genre, especially in DC’s movies where they often lean towards the darker side of things. There’s something charming about its innocence and the sweet refresh on the DC lore is something that will please old fans who grew up with the comics, as well as new fans who might only be familiar with the Justice League.
Humour and heart aside, there’s no denying that DC League of Super-Pets has a star-studded cast. Johnson and Hart carry most of the movie with their constant bickering, along with their enemy-turned-close friends World’s Finest pets relationship. Though, we must add that Johnson isn’t exactly the best voice actor out there. Johnson is the kind of actor that plays himself, so much so that Krypto even starts looking like him at some point. This may not be a con to some people, and may even be a pro for some, but we see this as Johnson lacking versatility and being unable to sell any other character that isn’t in some sort, an extension of himself.
Reeves probably has the least amount of lines, but he hits it on the nail each time. He is absolutely hilarious as Batman and we looked forward to each time Batman has an opinion to share or a comment to make. Lyonne’s Merton is an unexpected star as an aged turtle with poor eyesight and an affinity for flowers. Merton is flirty and the complete opposite of how elderlies are often portrayed in the media and her special power being speed as a turtle is also an irony we enjoy. McKinnon receives a special mention as evil guinea pig Lulu who is just as sassy as she is evil.
True to the nature of animated films, DC League of Super-Pets pulls off what other superhero entries have struggled with in recent years: lighthearted fun and self-aware humour woven in with real, important themes – change, friendship, teamwork and love through the seasons. DC League of Super-Pets is no mould-breaking, life-changing film that will have you putting on your critics hat, heavy in direction – but it promises good fun and funny puns that will bring some light as viewers recover from superhero fatigue.
GEEK REVIEW SCORE
DC League of Super-Pets is an easy watch for kids and adults alike. Filled with puns, jokes, catty remarks and doggy banter, this DC animated film is a sweet and refreshing break from all things dark and complicated.
Story - 6/10
Direction - 6/10
Characterisation - 6/10
Geek Satisfaction - 7/10