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Review: “DC Universe 10th Anniversary Collection” Is Gold That Needs Polishing

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DC Universe 10th Anniversary Collection

DC Universe 10th Anniversary CollectionThe DC Universe 10th Anniversary Collection is an attempt by Warner Bros. to bring out the big guns in conjunction with the Justice League theatrical premiere, collecting thirty movies and five shorts in one massive (and massively heavy) box set. Starting with 2007’s Superman: Doomsday and running up to the recent release of 2017’s Batman and Harley Quinn, you have multiple heroes, timelines, adaptations, and even voice actors for Batman throughout this set. Do you want the darker world of Frank Miller? It’s available in the The Dark Knight Returns two-parter and the Batman: Year One movies. Like a little brightness? It can be found in Darwyn Cooke’s The New Frontier or even literally in Green Lantern: Emerald Knights. Even those that wish to harken back to the Batman as seen on TV in the 1990s can get new twists on the world and its designs with Justice League: Gods and Monsters and Batman and Harley Quinn. This set retails for $200, but is it a must-buy if you already have some of the movies (and skipped the others for various reasons)?

While it’s not hard to see what movies are included in the set, it’s important to note that there are a few that are left out. Older films, particularly ones set in the fabled “DC Animated Universe,” such as Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, Sub-Zero, and Mystery of the Batwoman are missing from this set, but even recent films like the pair of Batman ‘66 stories are absent. Obviously missing due to it’s grandeur and completely-separate production team is The LEGO Batman Movie, but more kid-friendly fare like the Batman Unlimited films are also missing. Effectively, while the movies in this set are the strongest and produced in the same queue, it would be nice to have the rest tossed into the set in some fashion, even if only as digital redemptions (sadly, this box set is missing digital copies of the movies).

Reviewing all the movies in this set would be a futile exercise in completeness for its own sake, and would either shortchange the movies or turn into an encyclopedia of a review. This review aims to cover all the extras that come exclusively from owning this set. Don’t consider this an exhaustive synopsis of the highs and lows of the past ten years; we’ve covered that at Toonzone in many many many different reviews.

Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox Flash and BatmanThe movies show a few different trends: some stories directly adapt special miniseries or events (The Flashpoint Paradox, The New Frontier, and The Killing Joke, for example); some exist as effective promotional material for movies (Emerald Knights for Green Lantern, Gotham Knight for The Dark Knight); and some exist in an ongoing continuity (most of the films featuring the Justice League in the latter half). For the greatest comparison, it’s like staring at the equivalent James Bond box set; there may be a few recurring roles and a loose continuity between some of them, but they’re not all winners. Throughout the Bond series, there are some amazing moments; most recently, the Day of the Dead rooftop chase in Spectre stands out. There are also some significant flubs, such as Bond driving a car underwater for way too long. Similarly, for every “Superman unleashes his full power against Manchester Black while defending who he is” moment in this giant boxed set, you have a scene where Harley Quinn passes gas in the Batmobile. In complete collection sets like this, you’re going to get the highs and the lows (and invariably both may happen to involve holding your breath in a tricked-out super car).

Justice League: The New FrontierOne appreciated aspect of this release is that it includes the commemorative editions of Wonder Woman (to hype the theatrical movie) and Justice League: The New Frontier (honoring Cooke’s passing). An exclusive disc to the set features some new special features and some lost old ones, including:

  • THE HERO IN ALL OF US, a documentary about real-life heroes who were inspired by or relate in other ways to comic book superheroes
  • MARK HAMILL: FINDING THE LAUGH, a short featurette about how Mark Hamill got involved with his second-most-iconic role, The Joker
  • DC UNIVERSE 10TH ANNIVERSARY PANEL, SAN-DIEGO COMIC-CON 2017, a panel that was ostensibly to hype this set, which covers why some of the aforementioned movies are not included
  • A TRIBUTE PANEL TO DARWYN COOKE, where friends and family of the legendary artist and storyboarder involved in so many DC productions talk at a convention about the legend and his loss
  • 2008 SAN DIEGO COMIC-CON: DC UNIVERSE ANIMATION PANEL FEATURING WONDER WOMAN, a promotional panel to hype up the then-premiering Wonder Woman animated movie
  • A COMIC BOOK HISTORY OF JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK, a segment from DC’s online shows that talks about the history of the members of the Justice League Dark
  • JUSTICE LEAGUE: GODS AND MONSTERS CHRONICLES, a trio of shorts that explore in greater detail the characters of the alt-reality Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman as seen in Gods and Monsters.
  • LOOKBOOK, which is no more than an assorted selection of backgrounds, character designs, and errata involved in the movies

This disc, which is maybe a good afternoon of watching, is nothing spectacular. The documentary seems like it could belong on any DC-related release this year, most of the other bits seem to be, at best, YouTube background noise or promotional material. Nothing here, beyond the actual panel hyping the set, seems to be designed with this set in mind; there’s no overarching review of the series, trailer collection, or interviews with key figures behind production with regards to have the series has evolved over a decade.

Justice League DoomPhysically, the movies come in an imposing set… but it may be too much. An adult coloring book featuring the box art for some of the movies is novel but undesired, and collectible coins are a curiosity at best. The movies come in large sleeves as wide as the box with some great art, though it may take a few seconds of searching to find which sleeve holds the movie you want to watch. One glaring question is the cover art; clearly that’s the modern interpretation of the Justice League, but why is Batman’s “Rebirth” look on the cover (yellow outlined bat-insignia)? It’s not seen in any of the movies, and has only existed in the comics for less than two years, not seen elsewhere. It’s as if Superman was modeled after George Reeves; it’s a valid look for the character, but it seems a bit out of place in this box.

If you have a significant number of the movies and want to complete the collection, you may be better off filling in the holes slowly but surely. If you haven’t been picking these movies up as they came out, though, the box set is a decent value if you count each movie for roughly $7. Just know that going in, you won’t be getting many exclusives or valuable in-box additions, but it will be a nice collection that takes up less space than thirty Blu-ray cases. Just know that, much like Batman’s chest symbol, the whole of the series seems cobbled together from different sources without much thought to how all the pieces fit together.

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