www.cbr.com

DC's Injustice Universe Is Everything the DCEU's Films Should Be

Five years ago, two very important things happened to change the landscape of DC's non-comics reality. The first was Injustice: Gods Among Us, a dark and gritty fighting game from Mortal Kombat developer Nettherrealm that saw the Man of Steel as a fascist dictator that forced most of the Justice League to help him in his rule of the world. Second was Man of Steel, a dark and gritty reboot of the character that ended with him making out with Lois Lane on the ruins of Metropolis shortly before snapping General Zod's neck.

Both of these things were met with divided responses from fans of the character and comic book community as a whole, and over the years, the only one of to have risen above its initially grim premise is Injustice. It's not a stretch to say that the games themselves are more popular and well liked than the movies at this point, which obviously isn't what Warner Bros. was hoping for.

RELATED: Injustice 2: Legendary Edition Arrives with Action-Packed Trailer

Thanks to both the games and DC's comics meant to fill in the history between each game, Netherrealm has created one of the most fun universes in the DC library. That isn't to say that Injustice is lacking in problems, of course; if fascist Superman isn't what turned people off from the universe, it may be the part where he heads down his dark road after being tricked into beating his pregnant wife Lois Lane to death.

Why this has become generally accepted by fans is because the creative forces on hand never try to go out of their way to let that be an acceptable justification for Superman's actions. The heroes (and villains) in and out of his inner circle repeatedly acknowledge that he's gone off the deep end and needs to figure out a way to deal with his loss in a manner that doesn't involve complete world domination. Compared to the way the DCEU fumbled with how to handle Man of Steel's titanic death count (perhaps the most common criticism made against the film), it's an serviceable admission of Superman's gross behavior, if nothing else.

What really separates Injustice from the films aside from the obvious interactive element is that it has something the DCEU very noticeably lacks: a sense of self awareness. With very few exceptions, there's the pervasive attempt in the films to try and make these characters feel like grand, mythic figures without really earning the right to present them as such.

RELATED: Injustice 2’s Big Batman Reveal is Totally Obvious — And Perfect

It's why the fight between the Dark Knight and the Man of Steel doesn't really work. For all the talk of Batman v Superman presenting "the greatest gladiator match in the history of the world," that title can't work because these two characters are just meeting for the first time. More, this is Batman's first appearance in this universe.

Conversely, Injustice is positively brimming with self awareness. One of the first things Superman does in his effort to rule the world is tweet that Bruce Wayne is Batman. It's an incredibly silly moment, but it lays out the careful balance that Netherrealm is aiming for with its universe.

1 2
She-Hulk's Disney+ Series Should Embrace a Self-Aware Shulkie

More in CBR Exclusives