It’s become a bit of a chore trying to keep up with every modern superhero movie and TV show and how they all connect to their respective shared universes. There are so many installments to several superhero franchises each year that it can feel like a little too much to take in at times. That’s why it’s good for those still looking for their superhero movie fix to have something relaxing to watch or easier to absorb. That’s where DC League of Super-Pets comes in. This animated superhero adventure may be a relaxing watch, but is it actually good or does it fail to take off? Let’s sniff out all the clues to find out.
This review contains spoilers for DC League of Super-Pets.
League of Super-Pets offers a delightful heartfelt story about pets and friendship. It’s a feel-good film that could put a smile on anyone’s face. Despite the movie being fantasy/science fiction, each of the animals have very real-feeling backstories that are extremely touching. This movie genuinely makes one want to adopt a pet who’s in need of a good home, which is powerful and important for a movie to do.
The story may not be void of overused tropes seen in other animated films, but there are also quite a few unexpected twists and turns throughout. Sure, it’s obvious that the Super-Pets will be friends in the end and that the heroes will come out on top. There are moments, however, like Lex not joining forces with Lulu after she rescues him and Krypto losing his powers, that do come as a surprise. Things like this are what keep the audience guessing and hold their attention. It’s nice to see some plot points that aren’t completely expected in a movie that’s meant for family viewing.
The movie also offers some very welcome positive themes regarding how relationships and friendships should be had. There’s a focus on seeing what a toxic friendship looks like compared to a positive one. Krypto wants Superman’s life to revolve around him, but manages to learn that if he truly cared for Superman that he should give him the chance to do whatever makes him happiest. Similarly, Ace spends much of the beginning of the film lying to his friends to get what he wants out of their relationship, but then quite literally becomes their protector and they rely on each other rather than him using them to boost himself up. It’s a fantastic message for people in any stage of life, not just kids, could learn from. It’s also worth noting that seeing these relationships between the characters play out adds a lot of the heart to the movie.
Krypto and Ace aren’t the only ones who receive great development arcs. Chip becomes more confident in himself, Merton becomes more focused, and PB gets to live out her big dreams. It’s quite satisfying to see these characters’ arcs come full circle. It’s also pretty entertaining that their powers match their development almost too literally.
The characters themselves are also wildly entertaining outside of their development. They’re personalities are all distinct, they’re all relatable in some way, and they all have their own sense of humor. Each of the Super-Pets is an absolute blast to watch on screen and all feel like real, fleshed out characters. Even a couple of the guinea pig side characters stand out and add a lot of humor and entertainment to the movie.
Speaking of humor, most of the humor used throughout the film is laugh-out-loud funny. The jokes are witty and the slapstick is wildly entertaining. The filmmakers know to fully embrace the story’s ridiculousness. There are countless times when the movie parodies superhero movie tropes and pokes fun at them in amusing and creative ways. Some moments even make League of Super-Pets feel more like The LEGO Batman Movie with the way it jokes about DC Comics lore and the superhero movie genre as a whole.
The superhero action is extraordinarily exciting, which is rarely seen in animation outside the likes of Into the Spider-Verse. This riveting action comes from both the Super-Pets and the Justice League. Superpowers are used creatively, like Wonder Woman using her lasso to whip PB like a wrecking ball. Each of the Pets’ powers are unique enough that they stand out easily from each other to make the fast-paced battles easy to follow. There are even humorous moments throughout the action, like mutant guinea pigs taking down Batman, that make things that much more entertaining.
Usually with big-name celebrities being cast in animated movies, they just sort of read the lines in their own voices. That’s the case for Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart in this movie, but the others, like Diego Luna, Kate McKinnon, John Krasinski, Vanessa Bayer, and others, absolutely kill it. They add a lot of emotion to their roles and completely bring them to life. Some, like in Luna’s case with his role as Chip, change their voice entirely to fit the part. There’s definitely a lot of talent being showcased in the film.
The movie is chock full of easter eggs and references to DC Comics lore for fans to catch. They range from background elements like a restaurant sign that reads “Hex’s Steakhouse” with a cowboy hat hinting at Jonah Hex, to mentions in the dialogue like Aquaman saying he didn’t get along with an eel hinting at one of his villains named the Eel. Obviously references don’t make or break a movie, but they can be a lot of fun to look for and there are a lot of them here.
While most of the humor is worthy of laughing until your lungs hurt, there’s no shortage of lame pee and potty jokes throughout. Where there is otherwise clever humor used in the movie, it feels especially unnecessary to use jokes about going to the bathroom. Bathroom humor can be great, but it’s not here unfortunately, aside from an instance or so. It also causes it to be a little bit too much like other typical children’s entertainment rather than having its own comedic identity.
Despite there being those twists, turns, and surprises used throughout the plot that were mentioned earlier, there are also plenty of predictable moments and tired tropes used. At times, it follows a similar formula to other animated movies and other superhero origin films. For a movie with otherwise creative elements, it’s a bit of a let down. It could have had so much more of its own identity. Plus, but parts being as predictable as they are, those parts are less exciting as a result. They thankfully don’t take away from what does make the film unique or creative; they just prevent it from standing out as much as it could.
DC League of Super-Pets is based on the Legion of Super-Pets comic book series, and while it captures its wackiness, there are some odd changes that didn’t need to happen. For one, there are a plethora of Super-Pets to choose from to feature on the team in the movie, yet they went with creating their own character for PB. They drastically changed the Terrific Whatzit (Merton) by stripping them of their strength and flight and altering their personality and superhero alias (using a different gender isn’t a problem, especially since Natasha Lyonne perfectly portrayed her in the movie). They used an Earth squirrel for Chip rather than the alien Ch’p from the Green Lantern Corps They gave Ace the Bat-Hound superpowers despite just being a non-superpowered character in the comics. None of these changes actually affect the movie one way or the other, but it’s odd to make so many changes when the source material has already mapped things out for them.Plus, this version of these characters is a lot of fun as they are.
DC League of Super-Pets is a fun and feel-good film for audiences of any age. It’s a blast to watch whether you’re a die-hard comic fan or just someone who wants to see a cute animal movie. It’s perfect for the whole family. The movie somehow manages to be unique and creative while also being generic and predictable at the same time, which is admittedly impressive, but it does hold it back from being something truly great. If you’re looking for a good superhero flick without having to remember what happened in dozens of other movies and want to relax while you watch it, DC League of Super-Pets is perfect for you.