This movie is a perfect example of what I love about the DC Animated Universe. That may come as a surprise, considering the films I’ve reviewed lately. I tend to be more critical of the darker, more serious ones (e.g., Injustice or Deathstroke) and instead rave about the broader, more fantastical ones (e.g., Batman: Soul of the Dragon or the recent DC Showcase). But believe it or not, the darker films were the ones that drew me to the DC Animated Universe in the first place. When done well, they’re an opportunity to explore deeper, more complex themes in a more mature way. Beware My Power does it very well.
We open with John Stewart: former Marine, Medal of Honor winner, and current PTSD sufferer who mostly just wants to be left alone. Unfortunately, the Green Lantern Corps has other plans, when a ship crash lands outside his house, and a dying alien hands him a ring. A familiar story… only John absolutely, positively does not want it.
The Justice League is none too happy about John’s new appointment either, as it turns out that the ring he’s wearing formerly belonged to their friend and colleague, Hal Jordan. What happened to Hal? John, together with the Green Arrow, set out on a journey across the galaxy to find out. Well, Green Arrow wants to find out what happened. John just wants to find someone who can get this blasted ring off his finger.
Along the way, they find a truly staggering amount of death and destruction, much of which has been brought about by an interplanetary war. Both sides are convinced that the other side struck first and struck unprovoked. Something sinister is clearly going on behind the scenes—and now, like it or not, Green Lantern and Green Arrow find themselves caught in the middle of it.
The film explores a lot of dark themes including war, PTSD, and the morality (or lack thereof) of killing. What makes it work is a fantastic script. Written by John Semper (best known as showrunner for Spider-Man: The Animated Series in the ’90s) and Ernie Altbacker (who also wrote for Spider-Man: TAS, as well as the aforementioned DC Showcase), the film doesn’t just give us a bunch of killing and violence. It gives us well fleshed out, three-dimensional characters, capable of exploring these darker themes in a deeper, more mature way.
And of course, it’s all held together by John Stewart. His arc, from refusal to acceptance of his role as Green Lantern, is well drawn and really got me emotionally invested in a way I don’t think a Green Lantern story has been able to do before.
Great acting helps, as well, in that regard. John Stewart is played by Aldis Hodge (Leverage, One Night in Miami) who is very versatile and excellent in pretty much anything he does. Green Lantern is Jimmi Simpson (Westworld) who seems to give off Nathan Fillion vibes here and adds just the right amount of levity to the film.
The Blu-Ray has a great assortment of the usual special features on it. There’s a featurette about the making of the film, a glimpse inside another DC Animated film (Batman: Bad Blood which, oddly, is not an upcoming release, like usual, but instead came out several years ago), and a two-part Justice League (2001) episode – “In Blackest Knight” – which, of course, centers around Green Lantern John Stewart.
In general, Beware My Power is a great movie and well worth watching. If you want a darker superhero film that will make you think and make you feel, you definitely need to check this one out.
Creative Team: Jeff Wamester (director), John Semper (co-writer), and Ernie Altbacker (co-writer)
Released By: Warner Bros. Animation, DC Entertainment
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