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Western Animation / Legion of Super-Heroes (2023)

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Spoilers for all Tomorrowverse works preceding this one will be left unmarked.

Legion of Super-Heroes is an animated film based on the DC Comics superhero team of the same name, and is the sixth film in the Tomorrowverse continuity. The cast for the film includes Meg Donnelly as Supergirl, Harry Shum Jr.. as Brainiac 5, Darren Criss as Superman, Jensen Ackles as Batman, Yuri Lowenthal as Mon-El and several other voice actors.

Kara, devastated by the loss of Krypton, struggles to adjust to her new life on Earth. Her cousin, Superman, mentors her and suggests she leave their space-time to attend the Legion Academy in the 31st century, where she makes new friends and a new enemy: Brainiac 5. Meanwhile, she must contend with a mysterious group called the Dark Circle as it searches for a powerful weapon held in the Academy’s vault.

It was released on February 7th, 2023. However, the film was leaked a few days prior to that.

Not to be confused with Legion of Super Heroes (2006).

Tropes in the film:

  • Adaptational Villainy:
    • The Brainiac clones before Brainiac 5 are all mentioned as having become villains in the film. In the comics, Brainiacs 2 and 4 are heroes and Brainiac 3 is a Wild Card.
    • Mon-El is a traitor in this movie, despite always having been a genuine hero in the comics.
  • Big Bad: The original Brainiac founded the Dark Circle to resurrect himself after his death in Justice Society: World War II, having the organization create psychotic clones of himself over the centuries he uses to form a new body, before manipulating Brainiac 5 into giving him access to the Miracle Machine so he can use it to bend reality to his whims. Mon-El is The Heavy as the Dark Circle's mole in the Legion Academy, intending to bring about a new age of order and purity by helping Brainiac steal the Machine and even briefly attempting to take command of the Circle to continue pursuing this agenda after his master's defeat.
  • All Your Base Are Belong to Us: When the Black Circle takes over the Legion HQ, they change the holograms of the Legion members into their circle symbol.
  • Body Horror: Brainiac used his clones for spare parts to reconstruct his body, leading to a Frankenstein-style piecemeal appearance, with their faces grotesquely grafted across his body that are still alive and pleading. At the climax they gain renewed strength to rebel and rip their own bodies out of the main mass.
  • The Cameo: Several Legionnaires are briefly seen, either as holograms or in crowd shots, like Saturn Girl, Lightning Lad, Light Lass, Comet Queen, Dream Girl, Tellus, Monstress, Color King, Blok, Gates, Catspaw and Quantum Kid II.
  • Casting Gag: Yuri Lowenthal, who previously played Superman himself in Legion of Super Heroes (2006), plays Superman and Supergirl fanboy Mon-El.
  • Failsafe Failure: Kara's mother Alura believed Jor-El about the impending destruction of Krypton and secretly prepared as many single occupant rockets as she could to evacuate the planet. Unfortunately, when it comes time to use them, all but one fails to function. Kara is put on that one to save her life, but it gets hit debris and drifts for years, putting her arrival to Earth long after Clark's when she was intended to arrive first.
  • Foil: Mon-El and Brainiac 5 are opposites in almost every way. Mon-El is a charismatic, but secretly villainous, Bitch in Sheep's Clothing with Flying Brick powers, while Brainiac 5 is an awkward, but genuinely heroic, Jerk with a Heart of Gold whose only power is Super-Intelligence.
  • The Future: The film is primarily set in the 31st century, over a thousand years after the present of the Tomorrowverse. By this time a new Justice League exists in the form of the Legion of Super-Heroes while various alien species seemingly live on Earth.
  • In Their Own Image: The Big Bad that organized the Dark Circle is revealed to be Brainiac, who seeks to gain control over the Miracle Machine to rewrite reality to their will.
  • Invisible Streaker: Subverted. Invisible Boy is initially able to only turn his skin invisible, but assures everyone that he'll get the hang of turning other things invisible soon enough. When he's revealed to have survived the Dark Circle ambush later on by turning invisible, Kara initially questions if was forced to ditch his clothing, but Invisible Boy reveals he figured out and is still fully clothed.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Batman chooses the wrong place and time to discuss it with Superman when Supergirl is within earshot, but he nonetheless brings up a legitimate concern when he points out Kara's inability to adjust to life on twenty-first century Earth on account of being raised on the much-more advanced Krypton and her inability to properly handle her powers, as well as her lack of care for the damage she causes like during her battle with Grundy, make her a Destructive Savior and a potential hazard to innocent people. Though he doesn't approve of Bats indirectly making Kara cry by implying she'll need to leave Earth if this behavior continues, Superman's decision to bring his cousin to the thirty-first century to train with the Legion of Superheroes in an environment closer to what she's used to shows he saw the merit in Batman's words.
  • Male Gaze: The early scenes on Krypton do a lot of close-ups on both Kara and Alura's curves in their workout suits. The rest of the film afterwards avoids doing this on Kara and anyone else.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • Superman is the one who introduces Supergirl to the Legion as a reference to how the team first appeared back when he was Superboy in The Legion of Super-Heroes!.
    • Batman's negative opinion of Supergirl is similar to his opinion of her in The Supergirl from Krypton (2004), where he believes that she is a dangerous threat.
    • The way Brainiac dies, with the components of his being awakening and the mental conflict leading to ripping himself in half, is similar to how the Composite Superman, who is occasionally depicted with green skin and has fought the Legion, once died.
    • Like in the Justice League Unlimited episode, "Far From Home", an adventure with the Legion leads to Supergirl and Brainiac 5 falling in love, making her decide to stay in the 31st century.
  • Noodle Incident: It turns out that after forming the Justice League, the Legion contacted the team using a time bubble and have been in contact with them ever since.
  • Opposites Attract: Supergirl is brawny, impulsive, and social while Brainiac 5 is intellectual, carefully considers everything before acting, and socially awkward to the point of antagonism. After the two of them have a fight which leads to getting into a competition over virtually everything, they eventually realize that their differences are quite complementary when they work together. And this in turn leads to them realizing their feelings for each other and by the end of the film they're dating.
  • Our Time Machine Is Different: The Time Sphere is reimagined from a vehicle to a handheld device. When thrown, it activates and expands into a sphere of energy that collapses into a portal between two fixed points in time.
  • Precision F-Strike: When defeated and surrounded, Mon-El mutters, "Shit."
  • San Dimas Time: The time sphere gifted to Superman by the Legion allows for travel between two fixed points in time, so the same rate of time has passed on both ends each time it's used. Given he's already poking around in his own future, they probably felt unrestricted time travel was pushing it.
  • Self-Disposing Villain: Towards the end, Brainiac 5 reminds the original Brainiac that there can only be one Brainiac who can have it all. At that point, all the other Brainiac clones grafted to his body begin to rebel and turn Brainiac into a Body Horror. Soon after, Brainiac tears himself apart and kills himself without the need for Supergirl or Brainiac 5 to fight him.
  • Sequel Hook: The Stinger has Kara communicating with Superman from the 31st Century, introducing him to Brainiac 5. After closing communication, Batman calls him out on withholding from Kara that they are presently investigating some kind of threat that left a giant smoking crater in the middle of a street. Looking up, Superman sees a beam charge and fire. He attempts to shield Batman but they're both seemingly disintegrated, leaving a smaller smoking crater behind.
  • Stealth Sequel: Despite the focus on Supergirl and the Legion, who are naturally associated with Superman, the revelation that Brainiac is the leader of the Dark Circle while mentioning his death makes this film a sequel to Justice Society: World War II.
  • Strange Minds Think Alike: Both Kara and The Flash separately mention that Grundy doesn't rhyme with Monday.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: Solomon Grundy appears trying to kill Superman while using a high tech gun, despite having been portrayed sympathetically in Batman: The Long Halloween.
  • Time Skip: Batman mentions that it's been months since Kara arrived and met Clark, and she presumably arrived during or after the events of Green Lantern: Beware My Power.
  • Tragic Keepsake: Kara's only memento of Krypton and her mother is a badge for the Military Guild that she received just before Krypton exploded and her mother had to send her away. Post climax, she begins wearing it with pride.
  • World-Wrecking Wave: Brainiac links with the Miracle Machine and releases an energy wave that remakes the universe in his image and begins killing all those deemed either too weak to exist in it or strong enough to pose a threat to him.
  • Wrong Guy First: Kara becomes interested in the seemingly heroic Mon-El almost as soon as they meet, but as time goes on, and especially once Mon-El is revealed to be a villain, she loses interest. Meanwhile, Kara mistakes Brainiac 5 for a villain and comes to blows with him as soon as they meet, but once she learns more about him, in particular that he is genuinely heroic, she and him become a couple.