DC Universe 10th Anniversary Collection
The DC Universe 10th Anniversary Collection is a special Warner Bros Entertainment release that celebrates animated movies of the past 10 years. It collects Blu-ray Discs of all 30 releases in the DC Universe direct-to-movie line, the 5 DC Showcase animated shorts, exclusive new bonus content, a 40-page coloring book and 3 Collector Coins. This was clearly made for the ultimate DC Comics fan looking for another jewel in his or her vault of memorabilia or the new entry looking for a quick deal to get everything needed and binge. The following review is geared towards just the physical design of the collection, the collectibles, and the bonus content.
The movies are housed in an 8x12 box made of that the higher end heavy stock cardboard and can stand on its own no problem. The flap is kept closed by a magnetic pad from the bottom of the box and folds outward to reveal the inside of a case. The flap also has a golden sticker showing you which one you have out of 20,000 total copies made. Within it is the book that houses all the Blu-ray discs and production artwork from the various movie titles. Underneath this book is the Adult Coloring book, which has become a popular format these past couple years, and the Collector Coins. The Collector Coins are silver and bear three dimensional portrayals of Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman. They're made by 3D Systems/Gentle Giant LTD, the same folks who make those figurines for the Blu-Ray/DVD combo releases for this movie line. The coloring book isn't a complete 1:1 translation of the movie's front cover art but... keep it in the lines.
Moving on from the box to the book holding the Blu-rays, you can get lost just flipping through the pages. Some of this art you might have seen before on the original releases, some are brand new to me at least. Very ingenious to make the holding case an art book then the spines you'd see inside a regular DVD or Blu-ray case. Like the box, the paper used for the book is a high end variety - thick, tough, and can take a licking. If you're not used to this kind of collector release, there might be some hesitance with taking the discs out of their snug slots. This a nitpick but I was surprised that the discs weren't in release order nor used the original Blu-ray releases. The Wonder Woman and Justice League: The New Frontier discs were the recent Commemorative Edition versions released this year and are thus near the end of the book. The art on a given page aren't always specific to the disc kept inside. Oddly, some of the discs were repressed with the most current "DC" logo while others are the original pressing with the now defunct logo. It's also important to note this collection only has Blu-ray discs. No DVDs like the combo releases or single releases. There's also no Digital/Digital HD copies or codes included as the Digital release was a few months prior on August 15.
The bonus disc is about 4 hours give or take. That in itself is impressive if you have been buying the general releases of these movies. Some are panel recordings you could find on YouTube, the Justice League Dark featurette is more a puff piece primer, The Hero in All of Us is a feel good story, the addition of the Justice League: Gods and Monsters Chronicles digital shorts on a physical release for the first time is plain awesome (and something they should have done for the Gods and Monsters release), and the Look Book is stunning. For a collection that has 10 years worth of releases, one disc of exclusives doesn't seem enough. This is 30 movies, 5 shorts, and 3 digital shorts. It's a pity there wasn't a big look back special done that touched on the making of each movie with the selected members of the cast and crew. Nor are there new commentary reels on the movies that didn't originally have one. The case itself and Blu-ray book inside are made from amazing stock but it's a bit jarring to remove the discs for the first time and there's a mix of old and new disc pressings. And as a result, you don't get all of the bonus content ported over to this collection if you bought all the movies when they first got released. The $300 MSRP might be scary to most people who have to pay bills and taxes but if you only factor in 30 movies, that's $10 a movie. That's half price on each movie. A steal! All in all, the pros and cons balance each out.
The collection's special features are all in one exclusive bonus disc. The recent trailer for the live action Justice League movie and the recently released Batman and Harley Quinn direct-to-video movie play before the main menu. The menu is standard part and parcel. It uses the DC "Rebirth" designs from the box art and the music that plays is the opening title music from Batman and Harley Quinn. Subtitles are in English, German, and Portuguese.
The first special feature is "The Hero in All of Us," which is a look at the definition of heroes and how DC icons like Superman and Wonder Woman influenced people in the real world. It runs 49 minutes and 17 minutes. From wish fulfillment, celebrating heroes, or equality among all, the commentators vary from animation producers, writers, former military, founders of charitable organizations, and every day citizens. They talk about the core of these heroes then share their own personal anecdotes such as rescuing neighbors during an apartment fire, quitting a high paying, fast paced career at Goldman Sachs to start up an organization dedicated to women's equality. The feature starts with Superman then Wonder Woman then ventures into a more general discussion about topics like doing the right thing and self-sacrifice. Chris Banner, of Banner Fire Prevention, talks about how he built his own replica Batmobile and suits up for charity events like visiting a children's hospital. The feature concludes with the human element and reality of the stories vs. the real world and finding a need for heroes to exist and trying to come together to overcome the issues around us then talking about how super heroes are becoming more and more human in current movies.
"Mark Hamill: Finding the Laugh" begins in 1976 when Hamill recounts how he tried out for American Graffiti then Star Wars, how he taped himself reading a 2 page script then sent it in, and recounts how he got the full script. He goes to 1992 and talks about Batman: The Animated Series. He talks about calling his agent and wanting in. The Joker wasn't on his list of characters he was interested in and also he knew there was no way they could have 'Luke Skywalker' voice him. Hamill talks about his initial hesitance going into the audition then realizing he had to follow Jack Nicholson. Hamill goes in brief about various interpretations of the Joker in the animated series and movies to follow in the next few decades then an overview of Joker in his initial comics and returning to the character in the Arkham video games. Hamill jokingly admits about his pompous announcement he was done with the Joker after the game then shifts to The Killing Joke. The feature is more of an overview. Clocking in at 9 minutes, 33 seconds, it felt like it could have done longer. Surely there was a lot more Hamill had to say.
Next is a 45 minute recording of the DC Universe Original Movies 10th Anniversary Panel at the 2017 San Diego Comic Con. It begins with PR extraordinaire Gary Miereanu bringing out the panelists Christopher Gorham, Vanessa Marshall, John DiMaggio, Tara Strong (who comes out in Batgirl cosplay), Kevin Conroy, Jim Krieg, Alan Burnett, James Tucker, and Bruce Timm. Burnett is surprised with an Inkpot Award to commemorate his retirement. Timm starts with juggling with production on various movies at once - from trying to have a dedicated team but having to stop and help finish another like recently with Batman and Harley Quinn and Teen Titans: The Judas Contract. Burnett talks about how they sit down with home video and DC, getting to a place where everyone's need is met, how to adapt a comic, going into meetings with ideas, ideas popping up during the meeting, what the fans want based on forms sent out, reading Amazon reviews. The actors talk about their favorite roles and movies. Timm talks about how some movies they liked that fans disliked and vice versa. Timm talks about how he really like Batman: Year One but there was a lot of push back on it. Tucker cites Flashpoint Paradox and how fans were mixed and the comic wasn't done yet but once things came together, it was pretty amazing. Gorham chimes in a vote for a Flash solo movie. Burnett admits Flashpoint and Under the Red Hood are favorites of his. Krieg cites the late Dwayne McDuffie and crying when All-Star Superman came out. Marshall talks about the alternate version of Wonder Woman in Flashpoint. Miereanu talks about special features to come in this 10th anniversary collection. Timm looks back to the first screening of the line with Superman Doomsday. Timm tells Miereanu in a deadpan tone they won't write anymore Green Lantern. The panel goes to audience Q&A. Gods and Monsters comes up. Timm cites sales were okay so plans they had were shelved then Krieg adds it's up to fan demand. Timm shows interest in a Justice League Unlimited movie. Tucker pitches a Gods and Monsters/Justice League Unlimited crossover. The next question is about the art style - adapting, working with the original artist like the late Darwyn Cooke, and working in-house. They talk about working with Cooke. Strong and DiMaggio do a brief voice off of their roles. The Showcase shorts are asked about. Revisiting Batman Beyond comes up. The hardest to adapt question was met with "they're all hard" by Timm. He cites being disappointed with New Frontier and cramming it into one movie while Tucker talks about trying to keep the core of Judas Contract in one movie and Burnett cites Emerald Knights had to much big fights and could have used quieter scenes. Krieg talks about writing Flashpoint Paradox before the original comic was even done. Timm mentions there's preliminary talk of adapting Sandman and Tucker mentions talk of a Shazam movie. They talk next about working with overseas animation studios and trying to raise the bar each time. Strong, DiMaggio and Marshall give advice about getting into voice acting.
The "Tribute to Darwyn Cooke" panel runs about 33-minutes. Friends and family tell their own anecdotes from dealing with adults and children at conventions, others inking his art, his attention to studying the work of other artists like Jack Kirby, and others discovering his varied interests. The panel is a fun and enriching focus on Cooke and adds to the feature about him in the recently released New Frontier Commemorative Edition movie. After the Tribute is a 33 minute, 46 second recording of the 2008 Comic-Con International panel for the announcement of the animated Wonder Woman movie. Former DC Comics Publisher Paul Levitz, Bruce Timm, Lauren Montgomery, Andrea Romano and Nathan Fillion fill out the panel. Romano tells some funny behind-the-scenes 'secrets' of casting by libido and making Oliver Platt record shirtless because it was making too much noise. Held up with the 10th anniversary panel, it's a fun look back on how it all started. The last featurette is a 6 minute look at the comic book origins of Justice League Dark with DC All Access. It's an overview of the team and something light for the uninitiated. Jason Inman even states it's a primer.
The finale of the special features is the three Justice League: Gods and Monsters Chronicles animated shorts that accompanied the movie upon in its release on the Machinima YouTube channel. This is the only physical release you'll see of "Twisted," "Bomb" and "Big" and it includes the end credits for each (if you're a stickler for that like I am). It definitely brings back the news of season 2 then news of it being shelved. Hopefully, enough demand by fans and the next phase of the digital streaming craze might resurrect it. But I digress. There's also a look book that has selected character models, location designs, and animatics from Superman: Unbound to Batman and Harley Quinn with one neat location design from Crisis on Two Earths of the alternate universe Justice League's headquarters. Most are in shown their entirety for the first time -- and boy, a comprehensive hardcover making of book with all these designs would be awesome.
This 10th Anniversary Collection is a worthy addition to the collector's archive but someone looking to catch up on what they've been missing could easily save a lot of time and money by just buying this outright. Or it could be someone that needs to clear out that shelf of 30 movies to makes space for more stuff. Or heck, even before it was Halloween, the Christmas season has officially dropped. This collection will be in a lot of people's wish lists and makes the perfect gift to prove your love. While it's not perfect, my gripes are well just gripes and it's not going to ruin the collection. Not everyone cares about disc pressings. Not everyone wants a ton of special features. Less and less people are watching things on DVD. To pull off what they did with it, all my hat's off to Warner Bros. Entertainment. The DC Universe 10th Anniversary Collection is a beautiful monument to commemorate all that the fine folks at Warner Bros. Animation and Warner Home Entertainment have accomplished. I can't wait to see what they do for the 20th anniversary. The DC Universe Original Movies: 10th Anniversary Collection Blu-ray set is available as of November 7, 2017 at all retail and digital outlets. The 10th Anniversary Collection is a recommended purchase (but uh, between you and me, make sure your child has all the school supplies and textbooks they need first).
4 out of 5