DC League of Super-Pets is an animated feature film from the studio that brought you both Lego movies that takes a fun, fresh approach to the DC Universe. Through the eyes of the canine companions of the Justice League, the movie strikes a nice balance between poking fun at some of the silliness in the superhero genre while also delivering appropriate emotional weight.
Whether you are a longtime DC Comics fan or want to introduce your young ones to these legacy characters, these Super-Pets will fetch you a good time.
Right off the bat, the movie begins with the fall of Krypton, with Jor-El and Lara-El sending off their only son to the nearest habitable planet. Only in this version of the story, the puppy Krypto jumps into young Kal-Els shuttle to accompany him on his journey to Earth. Who knew dogs were Kryptonians’ best friends, too?
Flash forward to the present day, and the life between super-human and super-dog isn’t much different than regular folks with pets. Being woken up for breakfast, ushered out for walks (or flights) while half-asleep, and begging for constant attention are apparently powers that all pets have. An early montage shows how having a hound to rely on helps Superman, voiced by John Krasinski, save Metropolis in ways he might not have been able to do himself. Dwayne Johnson’s voice as Krypto is almost unrecognizable, and I must give the actor credit for extending his range.
Surprisingly, Superman is not the only member of the Justice League featured in this film. When Lex Luthor attempts to bring an asteroid of Orange Kryptonite into Earth’s orbit, we get an introduction to animated versions of Aquaman, Cyborg, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Green Lantern, and last but not least, Batman. Their designs fit the style of the movie, though, at times, the jokes go a little too far in making fun of the characters. For example, Aquaman gets distracted by fish food, and Cyborg gets disabled by being set in airplane mode, which makes them feel more like a caricature than fleshed-out characters. However, they are not the star of this show; the pets are.
Clark Kent is preparing to propose to Lois Lane, but Krypto worries she might replace him. Those fears are only exasperated when Clark looks to adopt a new friend for Krypto. At the animal shelter, we meet Ace the hound, Chip the squirrel, PB the pig, and Merton the turtle. There’s a nice point-driven home about traditionally “non-cute” animals never getting adopted. But the animation is so well done you’d have to be a monster not to love them.
Despite Lex Luthor’s plan being foiled, one tiny shard of orange kryptonite is captured by one of his guinea pig test subjects, Lulu. The orange kryptonite gives her powers, and the rest of the soon-to-be super-pets receive special abilities to help them escape the adoption center. I have to say, LuLu makes for a charming villain, delivering sassy and humorous one-liners.
LuLu manages to do what Lex Luthor never could: incapacitate Superman, and steal his costume’s logo as a cape for good measure. Krypto also loses his powers from eating a small shard of green kryptonite cleverly hidden in a piece of cheese. Although the protagonist learning to be a hero after losing their powers has become a bit of a tired trope, the added layer of losing one’s master on top of that is enough to make it novel again.
Powerless and beaten, Krypto comes to the newly empowered animal pack for help. Each animal’s insecurities and strengths are well established with the right amount of humor. All around, the voice acting is well-done, and their chemistry is believable and entertaining. Merton, in particular, is downright hilarious with out-of-the-blue lines like “where the [bleep] am I?” Ace, voiced by Kevin Heart, has the most emotional backstory, with a montage sequence that nearly brought me to tears. Like his soon-to-be master, Batman, he also comes from a tragic past that has hardened his current self.
The action throughout and in the big third-act fight lives up to what you’d expect from DC, with some shots of Superman and Krypto’s laser eyes lighting up closely resembling Zack Snyder’s cinematic style. However, you won’t find the seriousness of that director’s approach here. Instead, its tongue-in-cheek humor, similar to The Lego Batman movie, catered to kids of all ages and families. They are fighting an army of super-powered guinea pigs, after all. By the end, each Super-Pet finds a new owner to partner up with and cute matching suits to wear as they save the city.
As an adult and life-long DC Fan, I had a blast with the DC League of Super-Pets and look forward to seeing what stories from this animated slice fo the DC Multiverse we get next. Make sure to stick around until after the credits for an exciting cameo of what and who could come next.