Justice League: Throne of Atlantis is an entertaining spectacle, but Aquaman's origin story fails to satisfy.
DC Comics used to be the undisputed king of superhero animation. Between Batman, Superman, and two Justice League animated series, it crafted a massive shared continuity that set the bar for all that followed. Today however, DC is more interested in taking television shows in a live-action direction, leaving shared canon for a series of standalone animated films. The latest of these, Justice League: Throne of Atlantis, promised to adapt a popular comic book storyline to DVD, reintroduce Aquaman to the team, and act as a direct sequel to the previous Justice League: War.
For comic fans, that was exciting news. The original Throne of Atlantis storyline was based on the most popular version of Aquaman in years, and one of the few standouts among DC's New 52 reboot. That alone gave the Throne of Atlantis film a great deal of potential... potential that it sadly couldn't fully cash in on. While the finished product is still entertaining on its own, Throne of Atlantis isn't nearly as impressive as what the DCAU managed to achieve in its heyday. While visually impressive and a step above Justice League: War, even at its best you'll find yourself missing the classics instead.
After the events of Justice League: War, the superheroes who banded together to defeat Darkseid are keeping to themselves, and barely visit their new base in Metropolis. That changes when an American submarine is attacked, its crew brutally killed, and its missile payload stolen by what appears to be superhumans. An investigation eventually reveals the truth - the attack was orchestrated by a faction from the underwater city of Atlantis.
It turns out the Atlantean King was one of the casualties of the Apokolips invasion, killed when a fire pit burst through the waters of Metropolis Harbor. Prince Orm (known to comics fans as the Ocean Master) is using this opportunity to goad Atlantis into destroying the surface world, with the help of American missiles and his agent, Black Manta. With Orm frustrating any attempt at diplomacy, the Justice League has one option left: Help Arthur Curry, a half-human half-Atlantean with royal blood, take his rightful place as the king of Atlantis.
Throne of Atlantis is based on the Justice League/Aquaman crossover event of the same name, adding a few other New 52 references to act as a standalone film. But since this is Arthur's first appearance in the DC's new animated universe, it also acts as his origin story and introduction to the Justice League. Throne of Atlantis has a lot to juggle within its 72 minute runtime, and sadly, that means the quality is inconsistent overall. In retrospect, DC would've been better served introducing Aquaman back in War, so the film could narrow its focus.