Having escaped the destruction of Krypton, but arrived on Earth years after her cousin, Kal-El, teenaged Kara Zor-El aka Supergirl (voiced by Meg Donnelly, who plays the future mother of Sam and Dean in the Supernatural prequel, The Winchesters) is finding it difficult to adjust to life on Earth.
After a run-in with Solomon Grundy (which is part of an overarching storyline that bookends this animated film), Batman (Supernatural's Jensen Ackles) has 'words' with Superman (Glee's Darren Criss) about Kara's reckless approach.
So, Superman offers Kara the option of enrolling in the 31st Century Legion of Super-Heroes Academy, which, upon meeting the charming Mon-El (Yuri Lowenthal), she enthusiastically embraces.
Unfortunately, one of the first Legion trainees she meets is Brainiac 5 (Glee's Harry Shum Jr) who she mistakes for the villainous Brianiac she's previously encountered in the 21st Century and attacks, kicking off a rivalry between the characters that interferes with their training.
The Legion is in a bit of situation as most of its members - except for those teaching at the Academy - have disappeared, and sinister forces (who turn out to be linked to the ongoing situation back in the 21st Century) have their eyes on a powerful weapon (The Miracle Machine) that's locked away in the Academy's top security vault.
As I said last month, I've been underwhelmed by so many of the recent DC animated movies that I'd stopped religiously picking up each one as it was released on DVD or Blu-Ray... but this one caught my eye because it was all about the Legion.
Initially, as the story began to unfold, I was concerned that the 83-minute Legion of Super-Heroes film would turn out to be all about Supergirl, and relegate the Legion to background characters.
However, while Supergirl is very much the protagonist of this tale, the featured players from the Legion (primarily the trainees) carry their share of the story, especially Brainiac 5, Mon-El, Triplicate Girl (Daisy Lightfoot), Dawnstar (Cynthia Hamidi), and Bouncing Boy (Ely Henry).
The art style, with obvious black lines around all the characters that gave it an almost 'motion comic' feel, was initially a bit odd to my eyes, but as I grew accustomed to it I began to appreciate its synthesis of the best of anime and Western animation.
The script, by Josie Campbell, goes to some unexpected places, particularly one character's disturbing elevation of an imagined "Kryptonian ideal" into a blinkered fanaticism akin to the Nazi's distorted embracing of the myth of the Aryan übermensch.
I was also pleasantly surprised by some moments of visceral body horror during the film's climactic confrontation between good and evil, that ultimately pits Supergirl against the reality-warping power of The Miracle Machine.
While the film ends with a post-credit scene that sets up further adventures for Superman, Batman, and the Justice League in the modern day, I really want to see more animated adventures for this iteration of the Legion.
There are plenty - possibly an infinity - of other stories that could be told with these characters and a whole universe in which to set them.
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