The JLA Goes Anime in Crossover Event JUSTICE LEAGUE X RWBY

Justice League X Ruby Part One is now available on Home Video from Warner Bros Entertainment.

Crossovers can be a lot of fun when they work, and a big letdown when they don’t. An ideal crossover would appeal to fans of both characters or properties in a way that helps them to complement each other, either taking advantage of a shared audience or expanding the audience in the process (Batman vs TMNT). A bad one can end up being a disservice to both (Teen Titans Go! See Space Jam!).

In DC’s latest animated film, members of the Justice League – Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Vixen, Cyborg, and Green lantern – disorientedly find themselves waking up in the world of the anime series RWBY. They are not only transported but fully integrated into this new universe: transformed into teenagers with stylized anime physiology and retooled powers that tap into “semblances”, per RWBY ground rules. Batman, as a more pronounced example, discovers that in this world he’s sprouted bat wings and can fly, as well as tap into a second sight similar to the “detective vision” of the Arkham series of video games.

Meanwhile the RWBY squad befriends the newcomers and tries to help them get their bearings, but the whole mystery is deeply concerning to everyone – and Team RWBY increasingly fears that something feels a little off.

Justice League X RWBY, which takes after a 2021-2022 crossover comic limited series, continues DC Animation’s expansive and fearless approach to covering all kinds of stories and styles. I watch and review a lot of these DC animated films, and am a big fan of what their teams of creators have done there, not content to merely focus on popular storylines and characters, but covering (and uncovering) a lot of the weird, vintage, and forgotten corners of DC’s breadth and history.

That could give a false impression that I like everything they do, especially with their run of great titles the last couple years, but this film was decidedly not for me.

Speaking personally I have no experience with RWBY, so for me this was an introduction. In that respect I came into it with an open mind, ready to welcome the premise and crossover format. I do appreciate some aspects. The RWBY character design is stellar, and seeing how the DC characters get retooled into anime form and function is a highlight. You can see that some thought and care was put into considering how these characters could not only be interpreted, but also how they might interact and react with this new environment. Superman and Ruby share a dynamic as the leaders of their respective teams. Batman finds that he loves having actual superpowers, and takes a real shine to the new world and what it might offer. Green Lantern struggles because her powers are normally external, channeled through her ring – but in this world, powers come from internal semblances.

But honestly I found it kind of an interminable watch. The 3-D rendered visual style looks overtly video gamey and that, perhaps more than anything else, took a lot of the wind out of the sails pretty quickly – though in action sequence it does look really kinetic and dynamic – a fair trade.

The storytelling often feels silly and slight. As an example, in one scene Green Lantern is concerned because she has lost her ring. The RWBY girls spotted it earlier and ask her if it had a weird symbol on it. It’s not even bad writing, really – this scene would read fine “on the page” – but it plays out absurdly on the screen: they’re looking right at her and asking this while she literally has three of the exact same insignia prominently displayed on her costume.

While this was pretty bad in my eyes, it’s also abundantly clear that I am not the target audience.

And that’s OK!

If I could highlight one big saving grace, my 8-year-old daughter absolutely loved it. She’s at an age where she enjoys DC’s youth-oriented shows like Teen Titans Go! and DC Super Hero Girls, and that’s probably the best lens with which to judge this PG-Rated crossover, a cute female-forward adventure which has an aesthetic that will appeal to the younger set, especially girls who will identify with its plucky heroines and in-your-face stylings.

The Package

Justice League x RWBY: Superheroes and Huntsmen Part One is now available on 4K UHD, Blu-ray, and Digital versions, with the 4K Edition combo pack including both the standard Blu-ray and a digital Movies Anywhere code.

My copy of the 4K UHD Edition included a metallic slipcover. A “WB 100” sticker celebrating the studio’s centennial is affixed to the cover (but not integrated into the cover design as it is on some new and upcoming titles). This edition has its own spine design and is not part of the “DC Universe” mural motif that is used on many current “Tomorrowverse” titles.

Special Features and Extras

The disc includes two featurettes as well as a couple of Justice League TV episodes which echo the movie’s youthful themes. The extras are included on both the 4K and standard Blu-ray discs (a nice change from common practice).

Justice Comes to Remnant (7:35)
Creators and cast discusses the characters and world. This featurette is a little more focused on the RWBY side.

You Look Different: the Design of Justice League x RWBY (9:01)
The creative team describes translating the Justice League heroes, into the RWBY aesthetic and universe.

TV Episode – Justice League Unlimited: “Kid Stuff” (23:09)
An episode in which the Justice League members are turned into kids.

TV Episode – Justice League Action: “Plastic Man Saves the World” (11:14)
Batman and Superman scoff at wacky and immature Plastic Man when he shows up to fight Brainiac, but he proves his mettle in single-handedly taking down the villain.

A/V Out.

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Except where noted, all 16:9 screen images in this review are direct captures from the disc(s) in question with no editing applied, but may have compression or resizing inherent to file and web formats.

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