After a positively weird and even dark episode, episode 8 of Justice League Action gets back to the lighthearted fun.
“Play Date” features Toyman, a minor-league Superman villain. He manages to give Supes a run for his money here by updating his shtick to resemble a popular Marvel villain: Arcade.
It’s a spot-on send up of modern fighting games, and tons of fun.
The episode opens with the Watchtower under attack by, well, everything. Toy dinosaurs, toy fighter jets, a toy ninja pie bear. There’s even a small army of miniature Batman figures.
Speaking of Batman, he’s busily defending the control center with Superman and Wonder Woman. They’re not really threatened by the toys, and it’s more of a nuisance.
Superman angrily asks who was supposed to be on watch, and we cut to Cyborg eating pizza and playing video games.
This is totally the Teen Titans Go! version of Cyborg.
Specifically, he’s playing Street Fighter, Zangief vs. Chun Li. Or at least the off-brand, non-copyright-violating Justice League Action take on the classic fighting game.
He keeps on playing it as the battle rages behind him, and Superman takes a moment to nudge him back to work.
Cyborg finally shows up to take out the last invading toy, and says he couldn’t break away because Blue Beetle challenged him online.
Superman figures out that Toyman must be behind this, just as Toyman himself shows up and slimes Supes with some green goo right out of You Can’t Say That On Television.
It’s kryptonite, as it happens, taking out Superman instantly. The other heroes are quickly incapacitated as well.
The heroes wake up in the Watchtower training room, which works a lot like the Star Trek holodeck.
Or the X-Men’s Danger Room, to keep the theme.
It immediately starts running a life-sized version of Cyborg’s fighting game.
Or as Batman says, “A popular fighting game where contestants battle for street dominance.”
Toyman shows up and starts to play. It turns out he’s fitted the heroes with gizmos that let him control them like video game characters. And we get an absolutely amazing dance number!
After he has his fun, Toyman starts the fight.
The heroes who show up in the game intro are: Doctor Fate, Plastic Man, Martian Manhunter, Cyborg, and Star Girl.
Cyborg is impressed by this, and he and Toyman have a little geek-out moment over the game. He manages to parlay this into Toyman letting him play against him.
From left to right, top to bottom, the characters on the selection screen are: Superman, Cyborg, Wonder Woman, Batman, Lex Luthor, Plastic Man, Circe, Star Girl, Martian Manhunter, Flash, Firestorm, Lobo, Star Sapphire, Captain Marvel (Shazam), Harley Quinn, Darkseid, and Doctor Fate.
The first matchup is Superman (controlled by Toyman) and Batman (played by Cyborg).
The music turns very 16-bit here, and each of the heroes has their own little intro sequence.
The fight is absolutely hilarious. The perspective goes 2D, and Batman and Superman shout out their moves as they fight.
At length, Cyborg wins. And Toyman is not happy.
He demands a rematch, pulling up Wonder Woman. They fight furiously, and eventually Toyman starts to appreciate the challenge. He and Cyborg have another bonding moment, much to the annoyance of the older heroes.
“Maybe it’s time we raised the age for new members.”
Toyman wins by cheating, and sends Cyborg into the fight for another match.
Here’s where it turns out Cyborg has been wirelessly hacking one of the little Batman toys the whole time. It unplugs Toyman’s setup, and the heroes quickly capture him after a quick chase.
“Good game, Toyman! Booyah.”
Such a fun episode!
Trivia, References and In-Jokes in “Play Date”
- The super moves are all taken from Injustice. In particular, Batman’s trick of sending the Batmobile to run over Wonder Woman.
- Superman throwing the S on his chest is something from the old Christopher Reeve movies. It’s cheesy, and he hasn’t done it since. As Cyborg says, “He can’t do that!”
- The music for each heroes’ intro is taken from much older incarnations of the characters.
- Superman’s is from the Christopher Reeve Movies.
- Wonder Woman’s is from her 70s TV show.
- Speaking of Wonder Woman, her catchphrase and costumes are also taken from the TV show.
- Wonder Woman starts doing Chun Li air kicks in the last part of her fight with Batman.
Voice actor Ken Jeong. You know, Leslie Chow in The Hangover and Ben Chang in Community. This isn’t his first voice acting rodeo. He’s had roles in Despicable Me 2, Norm of the North, Turbo, and more.
Info & Trivia
- There are several versions of Toyman. This one is clearly Hiro Okamura, a teenage inventor from Japan. He first showed up in the early 2000s.
- This Toyman never appears in the mainline DCAU shows, although a variation of him is in Justice League vs. Teen Titans. Winslow Schott, the Golden Age Toyman, does appear frequently.
- Toyman has no powers other than his imagination and penchant for building robot henchmen.
- Surprisingly, he’s never teamed up with the Joker. Toyman is more of a Superman villain, although he did appear in Young Justice to fight Blue Beetle.
- “That’s my special Star Sparkle Super Puddy. FDA approved. For humans.”
- “I am the Boulevard Brawler master!!!”
- “Best combo system ever!”