Interested in Justice League: Warworld? Pre-order it here!

“Three heroes. Three worlds. One salvation.”

The next installment of DC and Warner Bros.’ Tomorrowverse, the successor and soft reboot of the DC Animated Movie Universe, Justice League: Warworld follows the Justice League — specifically Superman, Wonder Woman, and Batman — as they band together and fight their way through the various worlds within the massive gladiatorial coliseum of War World. However, the ultimate goal is not victory over their opponents, but freedom from War World and its supervillain ruler, Mongul.

With DC Animation alumni for director — Jeff Wamester (Green Lantern: Beware My Power, Legion of Super-Heroes) — writers — Jeremy Adams (Teen Titans Go! versus Teen Titans), Ernie Altbacker (Justice League Dark: Apokolips War), and Josie Campbell (Legion of Super-Heroes) — and voice actors — Jensen Ackles as Batman, Stana Katic as Wonder Woman, and Darren Criss as Superman — Justice League: Warworld is an R-rated film and the first appearance of the assembled Justice League in the new continuity of the Tomorrowverse.

Freedom From War World

Superman vs. Mongul on War World in Justice League (2001) animated cartoon

“Until now, the Justice League has been a loose association of superpowered individuals. But when they are swept away to War World, a place of unending brutal gladiatorial combat, Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman and the others must somehow unite to form an unbeatable resistance able to lead an entire planet to freedom.”

Publisher’s Synopsis

War World has been a metaphor for oppression in previous DC media, too. In the Justice League animated cartoon of the early 2000s, War World is a planet whose society features several real-world facets of poverty, like crumbling infrastructure and awful housing conditions; Mongul uses the fights in War World’s coliseum just like the Ancient Roman rulers did: spectacle to suppress discontent and collective action.

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As you can see, Superman took issue with this. Different but similar years later, the climax of the episode “Duel of the Double Crossers!” in Batman: The Brave and the Bold comes when Batman and Jonah Hex liberate several aliens and even supervillains on War World who rather dislike them — but nonetheless fight beside them because they dislike the oppressive siblings Mongul and Mongal even more.

Unity: Leftist and Centrist

Picture of Spanish Civil War children with Leftist raised fist salute next to MCU Civil War poster

Recent media has been very interested in how and why (super)heroes unite — and in proposing that ethically, they should, and practically, they must. Every depiction of the Avengers in the MCU — not to mention other groups, like Marvel Netflix’s Defenders — has spent significant screen time and thematic weight on this subject. The ‘Avenger-ization’ of Star Wars in the burgeoning ‘Filoni-verse’ — Rebels, Mandalorian, Bad Batch, Ahsoka, plus the upcoming film directed by Dave Filoni — has done the same.

It’s likely not a coincidence that, concurrently, real-world liberal and moderate politics was beating the “Vote Blue No Matter Who” drum more and more throughout the 2010s; nor that, as happened in the run-up to World War I and throughout the Cold War, calls for national unity and class collaboration are increasingly useful propaganda for corporate leaders scared of growing Left-wing agitation, and for state leaders preparing for — and manipulating and exploiting — conflict with a major economic and geopolitical rival (today: China).

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On the other hand, though, solidarity has been a staple of Left-wing fights for freedom and equality going back over two centuries. Of course, superhero media has rarely delved into, much less promoted, emancipatory politics. (No less an expert than Alan Moore has argued the genre is fundamentally opposed to such a thing in multiple ways.) But DC’s Tomorrowverse has been making a serious attempt to focus its stories on social issues like immigration and racism. And the Justice League has impressed me before.

Justice League: Warworld releases on digital, 4K UHD and Blu-ray on July 25, 2023.

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