“DC League of Super-Pets” stars Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Kate McKinnon, John Krasinski, Vanessa Bayer, Natasha Lyonne, Diego Luna, Thomas Middleditch, Ben Schwartz, and Keanu Reeves. Released on July 29, 2022, the film has Superman’s dog forming a team of super animals to rescue the Justice League.
The film is directed by Jared Stern, who also directed “Happy Anniversary” and wrote “Mr. Popper’s Penguins”, “The Watch”, “The Internship”, “The Lego Batman Movie”, and “The Lego Ninjago Movie”. It is based on the Legion of Super-Pets from DC Comics. There’s nothing more endearing than having a pet by our side, whether it’s a dog, a cat, or a guinea pig. For the Justice League, having a pet is just as super as their powers. We have several movies and shows that put the spotlight on some of DC’s greatest superheroes like Superman and Batman. Unfortunately, we rarely have something that puts their furry companions front and center. That all changes this weekend as Warner Brothers explores another part of DC’s animated universe. One that’ll have younger audiences howling with delight. My knowledge of the Super-Pets is minuscule compared to the Justice League. The only Super-Pets I remember the most were Krypto and Ace, Superman and Batman’s dogs, from specific episodes of the cartoons. I also remember them from the “Krypto the Superdog” show I watched back in 2005. It shows how much I’m getting into the DC lore compared to others. Nonetheless, the concept, brand, and all-star cast were enough for me to check out this latest take on DC’s heroic animal friends. So was it another fun addition to the brand’s animation lineup, or were we better off spending more time with the Justice League? Let’s find out.
The story follows Krypto (Johnson), a super Labrador from Krypton. Also known as “Bark Kent”, Krypto spends his glorious days hanging out and saving Metropolis with his owner Superman (Krasinski). Unfortunately, his heroic persona left him with a lack of socialization with other dogs. One day, Krypto faces his greatest challenge when Superman and the Justice League are captured by a hairless guinea pig named Lulu (McKinnon), the pet of Superman’s nemesis Lex Luthor (Marc Maron). However, his failed rescue attempt left him depowered. This resulted in Krypto forming a team of shelter pets who gained powers from a mysterious orange kryptonite. The group includes Ace (Hart), a Boxer who’s super strong and indestructible; PB (Bayer), a potbellied pig who can grow and shrink in size; Merton (Lyonne), a turtle with super speed; and Chip (Luna), a squirrel with electric powers. Despite the pets being inexperienced with their newfound abilities, Krypto will have to learn to rely on his new allies to save his owner and the world from destruction.
DC has recently had an impressive run in the animation department compared to its live-action cinematic universe. Not just for the direct-to-video movies but also the theatrical ones. “The Lego Batman Movie” was a cleverly superb take on the Caped Crusader and his legacy, and “Teen Titans Go! To the Movies” was one of the best things the divisive Cartoon Network show had to offer, believe it or not. So now it’s looking for another family-friendly hit with the adorable Super-Pets with the assistance of Warner Animation Group. As usual, Warner Animation Group may not be consistent with the quality outside of the Lego movies, but it is good at providing harmless fun for its target audience, like Illumination. So I was expecting “League of Super-Pets” to be like the studio’s previous projects: good simple fun for kids and adults.
If you’ve seen DC’s previous family-oriented animated movies, you’ll know exactly what you would expect from “League of Super-Pets”. It has the elements of any other kids cartoon with talking animals combined with some fun superhero action you’d recognize from the brand’s live-action outings. This undoubtedly sounds like a winning combination on paper. I mean, who doesn’t love dogs who can talk and have superpowers? But does it also work on the screen? Well, unless you’re looking for something deep in its storytelling, I would say yes.
The film’s story offers a kid-friendly version of the DC world from the perspective of the animals. It also serves as a backdrop for Krypto’s personal journey regarding his relationship with Superman. Krypto has sworn to protect and care for Superman after the destruction of their home planet, Krypton. However, when Superman’s girlfriend Lois Lane (Olivia Wilde) comes into play, he faces the uncertainty of not being Superman’s friend anymore. Amid his mission to rescue Superman with his new companions, Krypto gradually learns what it truly means to love someone unconditionally. The plot is best described as “Secret Life of Pets” with a mixture of “Bolt” and “Justice League” sprinkled into it for extra flavor. The result may be something that’s been done a thousand times before, which might be more than the number of times Superman circled the Earth in the 1978 film. However, it does deliver plenty of entertaining and cute moments in its well-paced narrative to satisfy my thirst for superhero glory. Sure, the storytelling isn’t perfect, but I don’t think it needed to be. It just needed to be a harmless and fun distraction for its target audience, and that’s what I got.
The cast is jam-packed with its own “Justice League” members, ranging from Dwayne Johnson to Mr. John Wick himself, Keanu Reeves. Unsurprisingly, they managed to soar as high as the Superfriends onscreen. Johnson and Kevin Hart have been one of the most irresistible duos in Hollywood, both onscreen and behind the scenes, as their chemistry shined in their previous movies like “Central Intelligence” and the “Jumanji” movies. “League of Super-Pets” marks their latest collaboration, and I can easily admit that they’re just as enjoyable as dogs as they were as humans. Johnson retains the charismatic presence he’s known for regarding his role as Krypto, and Hart surprisingly fits into the role as Ace. Kate McKinnon serves as another highlight of the cast, who constantly steals the show as the diabolical guinea pig, Lulu, due to her humorous dialogue. It further shows that McKinnon can deliver comedic gold with the right director and screenplay by her side. Bayer, Lyonne, and Luna also delivered some enjoyable performances as PB, Merton, and Chip, respectively. I also want to point out that John Krasinski makes for a good Superman in this film, so if Warner Brothers need a replacement for a live-action Superman, he should be up for the task.
The animation has a sense of vibrance and style that reflects something out of an old-fashioned comic book. Its art style was inspired by Art Deco architecture and illustrator J.C. Leyendecker, the guy behind The Arrow Collar Man. Additionally, the character designs were based on the Superfriends animated series and the Silver Age of Comic Books, mainly the Superman comics. It’s a pretty solid approach to the style that showcases its lively environment and action sequences. I also thought the humor was hilariously clever. The movie’s screenplay by Jared Stern and John Whittington has plenty of instances of DC lore satire and kid-friendly jokes you’d typically see in other animated family films. While some of its satirical humor doesn’t soar as high as one of the writers’ previous works, “Lego Batman”, the film delivers enough laughs in its superhero cartoon antics to satisfy DC fans and maybe some dog-lovers as well.
Overall, “DC League of Super-Pets” is a basic yet satisfactory cartoon that’s as heroic and cuddly as Superman’s faithful (and furry) companion. It may not pack a powerful punch in its storytelling, but it offers enough action, humor, and heart in its plot to provide another piece of family-friendly escapism during the summer season. With its delightful voice cast, decent visual style, and suitable messages, the film marks another example of DC’s success in the animation department. It’s still surprising that DC doesn’t have as many issues with its animated movies as the ones in its live-action projects. However, regarding the current problems it has with the Extended Universe, any success is good enough for the people behind the brand. So if you’re looking for some more animated DC content, this film offers enough moments to satisfy your superhero and dog-related needs.