DC League of Super-Pets has been a surprise to me from the start. When the first trailer came out, I liked the zany animation and characterizations, but mostly, I was surprised to see something so family-oriented from DC. I tend to think of them as sending their kiddie and family fare to TV or HBO Max, not the theater. That’s not a complaint; movies intended for the family audience often end up being some of my favorites. DC’s animated properties have a decent track record, having put out the great DCAU and memorable adventures like The Flashpoint Paradox and Under the Red Hood. They’ve had their duds like anyone else (looking at you, Batman and Harley Quinn), but I eagerly look forward to their projects. Anyway, let’s take a look at DC League of Super-Pets.
The film follows Krypto (Dwayne Johnson), Superman’s (John Krasinski) super dog, as he learns to share his best friend. Superman prepares to pop the question to Lois, and Krypto isn’t thrilled. Their quibbles are halted when Lulu (Kate McKinnon), an evil guinea pig from the local animal shelter, kidnaps Superman. Lulu and her roommates have developed superpowers following an accident with orange Kryptonite. The other animals team up with Krypto to stop Lulu and save the Justice League.
I absolutely love how cartoony they were willing to go with DC League of Super-Pets. As a lifelong animation enthusiast, I appreciate it when a cartoon is unafraid to lean into what it is. The character designs in this movie are unique, and I like the style for the most part. They could have been a little more ambitious with the action sequences; this is an area where other animated superhero movies have shone. But the textures look good, and the animators did well at differentiating the look of Super-Pets from other animation studios’ work. The score is decent, and I enjoyed the cues from John Williams’ Superman score, and Danny Elfman’s for Batman.
This movie largely hinges on the bond between Superman and his dog, Krypto, so it was essential to get this relationship just right. After all, Krypto considers getting rid of Lois to have Supes all to himself; you have to justify character choices like that. For me, this is the strongest aspect of DC League of Super-Pets: the bond between people and animals. The movie literally begins with Krypto sneaking aboard Kal-El’s ship to escape Krypton with him, not out of self-preservation but out of love for his boy. Krypto has been Superman’s best friend for his entire life, and he doesn’t know how to handle life changes like Clark’s impending engagement to Lois. It may sound silly, but I actually worried about how my cat would take it when I got married. The stuff with Clark and Krypto is the most relatable, and the shelter pets also tug on the heartstrings. The movie has some pretty obvious subtext about adopting pets and the joy an animal companion brings. In the end credits, there’s even a panel that says “Be a hero, adopt a rescue pet,” or something to that effect. I have several pets and regularly have to talk myself out of getting more, so it goes without saying that I wholeheartedly agree with this message.
This movie has a surprisingly stacked cast, even beyond what was teased in the trailers. Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart star as Krypto and Ace, with John Krasinski and Keanu Reeves as Superman and Batman, respectively. I’m surprised how well Reeves works as Batman. This is a funny Batman, though, somewhat akin to Will Arnett’s Dark Knight from The Lego Movie. So if you go in expecting the usual badass Batman, you may be disappointed. Johnson and Hart have their usual chemistry, bringing a lot of heart to the movie, especially Hart as Ace. His backstory is truly sad and reminded me of Jessie in Toy Story 2. Kate McKinnon plays Lulu, the villainous guinea pig who kidnaps Superman in an attempt to impress Lex Luthor. I didn’t care for this character or performance, but I’ll return to it. Vanessa Bayer plays PB the pig, one of the rescue pets. Natasha Lyonne and Diego Luna round out the Super-Pets as Merton the sassy turtle and Chip the nutty squirrel. These characters are just okay, although Merton got several chuckles out of me. Marc Maron is deliciously detestable as Lex Luthor, while Olivia Wilde and Jameela Jamil play Lois Lane and Wonder Woman (respectively) with grace and poise. Jemaine Clement plays Aquaman, Dascha Polanco portrays a female Green Lantern, and Daveed Diggs voices Cyborg. This is still not everyone, and I don’t want to list names all day, but I will say Keith David is in this movie, and that’s always a good thing. Cast this man in more stuff, especially animation.
While the action scenes could have used a little extra oomph, the only aspect of Super-Pets I consider kind of bad is Lulu. Kate McKinnon doesn’t seem to be my cup of tea based on my limited knowledge of her. Beyond that, though, this character doesn’t work. She’s not scary at all, which you would expect to work out since they went for funny. The problem is, she’s not funny, and it’s always very obvious what’s going on with her. Her obsession with Lex is transparent, and it’s immediately clear what will happen when she busts him out of jail. They play this character too broadly with the silly voice and the juxtaposition of being an evil guinea pig. I can see why they thought this was funny, but in execution, it’s just not. I am glad they didn’t redeem her, though. When Krypto reached out to her pet to pet, I was afraid she would go with him and the others. It would be ridiculous to forgive her when she tried to kill their owners, the Justice League.
Overall, DC League of Super-Pets is a ton of fun. This movie is funny, heartwarming, and animated with talent and creativity. This movie has an insane cast and a great soundtrack. I would recommend this film to anyone with kids, fans of animation, and animal lovers.