Photo: ‘The Guardians of Justice’
‘The Guardians of Justice,’ borne from the mind of its creator, Adi Shankar, is essentially what he calls “a superhero motif.” While it cannot actually be a motif, it still shares thematic characteristics and is based in an illusory world of the fantastical. Shankar claims that ‘The Guardians of Justice,’ does not belong within the superhero genre, but that is wholly incorrect. This series which hinges itself entirely to the world of superhero films, shows, comics, books, and video games is a direct link to this genre. The show undertakes the task of offering not just a differing approach to this standard story-telling format, but additionally is a social commentary as well as an analysis of the genre in a realistic setting.
This show shares many parallels and common themes with that of the anti-superhero/establishment show, ‘The Boys.’ That being said this show is unlike any other superhero genre series or films to date. By taking certain aspects of darker more realism-based plotlines and the characteristics of recent installments within this genre, ‘The Guardians of Justice,’ provides a discussion on the bleak nature of the world if superheroes and supervillains were to exist. ‘The Guardians of Justice,’ provides little positivity and endorsement of good triumphing over evil. ‘The Guardians of Justice’ portrays little faith in the kindness and progress of humanity. Even the heroes are depicted as people/aliens that must compromise their souls for “the greater good,” and the survival of the human race.
‘The Guardians of Justice’: Not Your Traditional Superhero Show
‘The Guardians of Justice,’ is vastly unlike any other film or series within the popular superhero genre. It steeps itself within the constant battle between good vs. evil, and violence versus peace. All of the show’s main characters, The Guardians, are each based on a popular member of the Justice League, such as Marvelous Man, the savior of Earth emulating the iconic, kind-hearted hero Superman. While ‘The Guardians of Justice,’ mimics common tropes from past superhero franchises, it largely differentiates from the typical storyline that these characters are normally drawn into. In the first few minutes of the show’s beginning episode, Marvelous Man kills himself with a special bullet made of caltroninte, the “kryptonite,” of this Universe’s Superman. Marvelous Man commits suicide in a televised message to the world, stating that he has grown tired of not being able to help everyone at once, while still being forced to hear the people of Earth’s constant cries and pleading for him to save them.
This show effectively discusses the curse of existing as a living benevolent God, who cannot be everywhere in a single moment. The struggle between good and evil weighs heavily on the conscience of an alien(person) that has been beaten into submission by the constant battle of human nature. This introductory scene within ‘The Guardians of Justice,’ is an allusion to the entire series that proceeds it. The heroes sacrifice the constant needs of the public in order to fight the greater villains and the more “important” battles. ‘The Guardians of Justice’ is the most realistic and fully thought out series to date about the actual existence of persons that possess extraordinary power and abilities that defy the natural laws of physics. This show is essentially a moral discussion on how superheroes and supervillains would change the world for the worse. By placing ultimate power in the hands of flawed individuals, the world would fall even more into chaos than it has with the current state of intelligence and awareness that humans already possess.
‘The Guardians of Justice’: Does the Creative Combination of Filmic Techniques Lead to Something Unique?
Adi Shankar, the creator of ‘The Guardians of Justice,’ uses a multitude of different film styles and animation compilations to create the unmistakable visuals of the show. He implements the use of “an experimental mix of live-action, 3D and 2D animation, claymation, 8-bit retro game art, archival footage, vaporwave laser lights, and even paper cutouts,” within the series’ synthesis. By doing this Shankar defies the standard formatting that is accompanied with this genre of story-telling, which is usually if not always portrayed as a single style of visual filmmaking. Whether it be filmed in complete live-action or a singular style of animation. By resisting the set industry parameters that are associated with the making of a show, ‘The Guardians of Justice,’ takes on an entirely new viewing experience for its audiences. The level of skill and craftsmanship, as well as the time that was clearly put into creating something so heavily ingrained with the editing of multiple sources and medium contents, amplifies the viewers’ appreciation for this groundbreaking series.
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The inclusion of these various digital mediums highlights the depth and lengths that its creator, Shankar, is willing to go to revolutionize the viewing experience of film and television. While the story-telling is a bit disjointed by the many transitions and changes between the visual sources used, the melding between the filmmaking techniques employed allows for a level of acceptance and trust by the viewer in the creator’s vision. Although the show is fragmented, the plot never suffers and the story, though at times confusing, is always well connected and is further explained the longer the viewer watches. At first one could think that this many styles of filmmaking and animation would detract from the cohesion of the show, but it could be argued that this reliance upon multiple visual sources and mediums is the series’ greatest strength and asset. It truly offers an eccentric viewing experience, of which the likes have never been attempted or depicted before.
The only issue with this style is that at certain points the budgeted, live-action aspect does not live up to the excellence of the animation portion of the show. Including the fact that the voice-over acting on the side of the animation does not express or draw the same emotion and investment by the audience as it does by watching the actors perform. By including so many differing sides to the style of visuals, the show unknowingly forces the viewer to compare their beneficial and more negative qualities against each other. This causes the series to subject itself to greater criticism as each part of its fragments are seemingly pieces combined together, rather than one solidified body of work.
‘The Guardians of Justice’: Is It Groundbreaking or A Muddled Mess?
‘The Guardians of Justice,’ is certainly groundbreaking, but that does not mean by any standard that it is a masterpiece. Adi Shankar’s attempt to revolutionize the viewing experience is certainly a successful one. Though, ‘The Guardians of Justice,’ is not without its flaws. The writing and dialogue of the series are one of its weakest aspects. It fails at depicting any real sense of humor, although at times the viewer could sense that the writers’ were trying to be comedic. The acting, in particular, seems to be lacking any real depth, but admittedly it is the writing that takes away from any skill by the cast that could have been successful. Due to this, the conversations and the pathos of the show fail to connect to the audience, causing no real emotional tie and support from the viewer concerning whether the protagonists succeed or fail.
This series is ultimately a spectacle of entertainment as the stunts, visuals, action sequences, and audio are especially well developed and perfected. One reason for why the acting felt as if it could have been better performed by another cast is described in Shankar’s own admission that none of the actors or actresses auditioned for their roles. He states, “I don’t understand auditioning… Actors have done things. Go on Netflix or YouTube and see their work.” He goes on to describe his view of auditioning as a whole by saying, “I felt the whole thing was inefficient.” The fact that none of the cast had to audition for their role was sadly apparent. At times the actors were great and believable in their roles, and for others, particularly, Night Hawk (Batman) played by Dallas Page, his acting felt forced as if he was a poor imitation of the iconic figurehead that his character was mirrored after. Although with the lackluster and at times laughable script, it may be unfair to judge Page’s work in the show too harshly.
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The writing greatly detracted from the viewer’s ability to be able to judge any of the cast members too seriously in their respective roles. Though it is not perfect, the series does touch moments of greatness with its revolutionary style through the use of multiple visual sources and mediums. The writing certainly takes away a lot from the show’s better qualities but overall it is still entertaining and worth watching. There is truly nothing that has ever been made that is like it, and it provides a wonderful insight into the creative ability of Adi Shankar, and the bright future of filmmaking that lies ahead of him.
Dallas Young is set to star in three upcoming films, ‘No Man’s Ridge,’ ‘High Heat,’ and ‘Homestead.’
By Thomas Jacobs
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Thomas Jacobs is an avid writer, Cinema aficionado, and filmmaker. He graduated with Dean’s Honors from the University of California, Santa Cruz with a major in Film and Digital Media. His passion is directly tied to the appreciation and creation of film and television, and this fact is reflected in his intent to be a writer for the acclaimed entertainment journal, The Hollywood Insider. His beliefs mirror the core goals and mission statement of The Hollywood Insider by sharing an admiration for quality entertainment as well as bolstering a sense of positivity and equality among all humans. Thomas believes that Cinema is an advantageous promoter of civil and social empowerment, and he shares a mutual societal view with The Hollywood Insider, that people should not be judged by the color of their skin, but the content of their character.