DC League Of Super-Pets was released in theaters on July 29. Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart Star as dogs Krypto and Ace. Big stars such as John Krasinski and Kate McKinnon also voice important characters.
Super-Pets is surprisingly self-aware, using a lot of meta-humor and in-jokes with the audience. Jokes are constantly being cracked that make fun of the very genre this animated film is a part of. The movie also references several key moments in pop culture in hilarious and clever ways, keeping audiences of all ages entertained.
During the first super-powered animal fight, a ‘Cat-Woman the Musical’ poster can be seen in the background and it looks strikingly similar to the playbill for Cats.
For some reason, fake superhero musicals are all the rage in superhero films and TV shows. First, it was ‘Rogers the Musical’ in Hawkeye which likely took inspiration from Hamilton due to the similar idea of a ‘historical’ figure fighting a war. The poster in Super-Pets alludes to Cats and may be considered an Easter egg more than a reference, but there’s no denying that modern musicals—and fake musicals—have a place in pop culture right now.
Ace is determined to escape the animal shelter. To motivate the others, he lies and says he has a farm—an animal farm—they can go to once they escape. PB remarks that an ‘animal farm’ “doesn’t sound ominous at all.”
Animal Farm is a dark story written by George Orwell with several animated film adaptations. Those who have read or watched Animal Farm, know how bad it gets. Even those who aren’t too familiar with the story know it isn’t pleasant. When PB cheerfully says the famous book title doesn’t sound ominous at all, nearly every viewer grimaced. For a kids’ movie, this reference is questionable, but it offers dark humor for older audiences that are more familiar with the story.
It’s date night for Superman and Lois, but it’s also the night Clark and Krypto would usually stay in and watch their favorite show: The Great British Bake-Off.
The British baking show began in 2010 and as the years passed, it gained immense popularity all over the world, largely thanks to its addition to the Netflix catalog. The fan base that has grown from this light-hearted reality baking competition series is something of a cultural phenomenon. The mention of the beloved show in Super-Pets is surprising yet it feels right. It’s funny that it’s a superhero and his dog who adores the show so much, that they have a routine in place for when new episodes come out.
Upon learning of Ace’s nonexistent farm, Krypto name-drops Smallville and declares that he has a real farm there. Merton comments that if anything sounds made up, it’s a town called Smallville.
Smallville was one of the first TV shows to bring superheroes into the modern era of television. Of course, it’s also where Clark Kent grew up, so it’s not an unusual subject to be brought up in Super-Pets. Merton is right though, Smallville as a town doesn’t sound real. It’s right up there with the fake town names such as ‘Christmasville’ or ‘Candy Cane Borough’ that are used in Hallmark movies. Merton’s comment pokes fun at this movie trope while allowing a nice nod to Super-Man’s childhood and the Smallville tv show.
When Lois sees Lulu dragging Superman away, she calls the Justice League hotline. An automated system answers and starts listing the different numbered earths with a key to select for that world’s Justice League. Lois expresses her annoyance.
The Multiverse has existed in the comics for decades, and the idea of alternate dimensions had been explored in movies and fan fiction for years. However, the concept of infinite realities uniting has only recently become a huge source of inspiration. With huge and epic multiverse movies like No Way Home and Everything, Everywhere All At Once, the fictional reality is starting to get confusing. The infinite worlds present in the DC TV shows alone can get chaotic, and this small Super-Pets scene acknowledges this in a quick but hilarious way.
There are several times throughout this movie where glasses are worn to disguise one’s hero identity. Even Krypto wears them in one scene and Ace is unphased, knowing full well he’s the same dog with or without them.
In the world of superheroes, there are various disguises used to protect one’s identity. Some are more efficient than others, while some are just outright terrible. Clark Kent’s glasses in particular are infamous for being one of the worst attempts at keeping hidden. Super-Pets is great at acknowledging things like this that don’t make sense. This scene proves how self-aware this movie is, but also how making light of this flaw—and others—works in its favor.
Krypto and the others are on their way to stop Lulu from breaking Lex Luther out of prison when Whiskers ambushes them. They hide in a car, and as Whiskers makes her way toward them, she begins to sing Freddy Krueger’s character theme song from the horror franchise, Nightmare On Elm Street.
There is something so creepy about Whiskers. Her kid-like voice among all the destruction she’s causing is a juxtaposition that the movie utilizes well. When she briefly hums to Freddy Krueger’s theme song, the scene becomes that much more chaotic and terrifying. Fans of the popular horror franchise likely got a chuckle from this, and once again, Super-Pets is praised for the stemless incorporation of this pop culture reference.
The shelter animals have trouble mastering their powers. PB suggests forcing a montage because the hero always seems to get the hang of their powers after one. “The Final Countdown” plays and the animals take their positions, but their plan doesn’t work.
It’s interesting how this scene plays out. There’s nothing inherently realistic about Super-Pets, yet they take a more authentic approach to getting the hang of their powers than several live-action superhero films. Instead, each animal must confront their turmoil before their powers can truly become a part of them and work how they need to save the day.
In the middle of the movie, Ace tells Krypto about his old owners. A memory flashes across the screen and audiences watch as a young Ace saves a little girl from falling by biting her and pulling her to safety. The parents only saw the bite, and they sent him away.
This entire scene is reminiscent of one of the most emotional moments in a Pixar movie, in which Jessie confesses that she once was kept by a child who grew up and forgot about her. A sad song that millennials likely still get stuck in their heads plays over the scene. Ace’s flashback is nearly identical to Jessie’s, it would be hard to believe Super-Pets didn’t take inspiration from it. Either way, both movies succeeded in bringing grief to viewers in their respective scenes.
Batman, more than any of the other Justice League members, is the brunt of the joke in Super-Pets. For example, Krypto’s chew toy is designed to look like Batman, and the hero gives several sob stories that either don’t make sense or contradict other things he’s said and done.
It appears as though fans of Superman wrote the screenplay for this film because it’s constantly taking light-hearted jabs at Batman and his reputation in pop culture. Batman himself is a meme, with fans often poking fun at the absurdity of his character, from his wealth and behavior to his catchphrases and extremely deep voice. The only thing that could have topped the jokes already in this film is if Keanu Reeves’ Batman met someone named Martha.
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Author: Elizabeth Lemieux