Justice League: War is a direct-to-video animated superhero film featuring the DC Comics superhero team the Justice League, and an adaptation of the story Justice League: Origin by Geoff Johns and Jim Lee, the first story in DC's 2011 DC Universe relaunch. It was directed by Jay Oliva, scripted by Heath Corson. It is the first movie from the DC Universe Animated Original Movies series that is part of a new shared continuity, the DC Animated Movie Universe. The film was released for downloading on January 21, 2014 and was released on Blu-ray and DVD formats on February 4, 2014. It had its world premiere at the Paley Center for Media on the same day. On August 11, 2015, Warner Home Video re-released the film on a combo pack, which includes a DVD and Blu-Ray copy, a digital copy, and the graphic novel it's based on.
The film depicts an invasion of Earth by the alien Darkseid and the subsequent formation of the titular superhero team to counter it, which includes Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Green Lantern, Cyborg and Shazam. A stand-alone sequel, Justice League: Throne of Atlantis, was released in January 2015.
A series of abductions have occurred in Gotham City; Batman is implicated due to video footage. Green Lantern stops a kidnapping before attacking the kidnapper, a monstrous Parademon, and is almost defeated when Batman appears to interrogate it. The Parademon attacks them both; Batman and Green Lantern chase it into the sewers, where it charges a Mother Box and explodes. They examine the box, deduce it is of extraterrestrial origin, and decide to ask Superman for an answer. Another Mother Box, supplied by the Flash is being studied at S.T.A.R. Labs by Silas Stone, father of Victor Stone, who misses his son's football game to study the box.
Batman and Green Lantern fight with Superman, who fought with a Parademon previously and believes they are working with it; the battle only stops when Batman calls him "Clark" and Superman discovers Batman is Bruce Wayne. The trio begin to work together against the Parademons. On the planet Apokolips, Darkseid orders Desaad to begin an invasion of Earth in response to the superheroes' discovery of his plans. Victor and Silas argue over Silas' belief that metahumans are more important than football. Superman, Batman and Green Lantern realize an invasion has begun when the box activates and several Boom Tubes appear throughout the world.
The Box in S.T.A.R. Labs explodes and creates a Boom Tube when Victor is holding it. The explosion fuses the technology inside the Box to Victor's wounded, mutilated body. As several Parademons attack, Silas takes Victor to a technologically advanced medical bed and uses experimental technologies on him. Countless Parademons appear and attack around the world. The Box's technology spliced with Victor's body fuses itself with the various technologies, including computers, around the room. Victor is transformed into Cyborg, with a body capable of transforming and adapting itself, including obtaining new features. Just as the Flash saves the scientists, Cyborg discovers details of Apokolips, Darkseid, and the invasion plan. He learns that the Parademons are actually inhabitants of world conquered by Darkseid, spliced with his technology, allowing him to mind-control them into serving as an army for conquering other planets. At his foster home, teenager Billy Batson sees a Parademon outside and mystically turns into the superhero Shazam. Air Force One is attacked in the air, but is saved by the Amazon princess Wonder Woman and Superman. After the heroes gather, Cyborg reveals that the invasion is a prelude to the terraforming of Earth. Darkseid arrives and proves to be a powerful opponent.
Darkseid uses his Omega Beams to fight Flash and Superman, who is incapacitated and captured by a Parademon. Batman prevents Green Lantern from going after them on his own with a broken arm. He tells Green Lantern to think about the lives at stake rather than his own image as a hero, and after unmasking himself, reveals that his parents' murders are what motivated him to fight evil. Bruce allows himself to be captured to save Superman. Green Lantern decides to strip Darkseid of his Omega Beams by destroying his eyes. Bruce goes through a portal to Apokolips, where he escapes the Parademon and stops Desaad from turning Superman into a Parademon. Superman is left unstable and highly aggressive because of the brainwashing process, resulting in him strangling Desaad to death and attacking Parademons and Batman. Batman reasons with him, and helps him reassert his own personality. On Earth, after Darkseid's eyes are destroyed, Cyborg reopens the Boom Tubes by connecting with a Mother Box and sends Darkseid and his army back to Apokolips. Darkseid fights back, and with Superman and Batman's assistance, the group eventually forced Darkseid through the portal. With the world saved, the superheroes gain the public's trust and are honored at the White House. The President of the United States asks whether they have a name. Shazam abruptly announces the name "Super Seven", to which the others object.
In a post-credits scene, an Atlantean ship emerges from the ocean and Ocean Master appears carrying the dead body of his king. He believes that the surface dwellers on Earth are responsible, calling it an act of war from the surface, for which he swears revenge.
The soundtrack to Justice League: War was released on February 4, 2014. The music was composed by Kevin Kliesch.
Justice League: War received a mixed response. IGN gave a total score of 8.8/10, calling it a "great modern origin story that will win you over with its action and humor." CraveOnline gave it a rating of 9.0/10.
Conversely, Brian Lowry of Variety believes it did not reach the high standards of other DC Animated Movies; he wrote, "the interplay yields its share of moments but ultimately proves too frenzied and chaotic to deliver more than a few revisionist thrills". Additionally, Scott Mendelson of Forbes' Magazine called the film a "dry run for Justice League". He criticized the plot, describing it as "monotonous".
It earned $5,058,471 from domestic home video sales.
A follow-up, Justice League: Throne of Atlantis featuring Matt Lanter as Aquaman / Arthur Curry, was released in January 2015 with several of the first film's cast reprising their roles; notable changes include Alan Tudyk, Michelle Monaghan, and Justin Kirk, who were replaced by Jerry O'Connell, Rosario Dawson, and Nathan Fillion in the roles of Superman / Clark Kent, Wonder Woman / Diana Prince, and Green Lantern / Hal Jordan, respectively.