If DC needed any inspiration about large ensemble superhero movies containing several new characters, high stakes and meaningful plots, then frankly they should just watch The New Frontier. With a modernised storyline, a little more focus on the more nuanced subplots, a clearer villain and a couple of prequel films to set up key characters and you have an Avengers rival. Damn this was good.
I've been on somewhat of a superhero animation binge recently, but The New Frontier has set an entirely new standard for the genre. The animation was flawless and beautiful throughout, borrowing just enough from the very stylised source material to feel somehow period whilst also thoroughly modern. The recasting of several heroes and associates in new (more plausible) job roles, with slightly tweaked backstories, made the entire plot feel refreshing and new. Acting was top-notch (and clearly attracted some big names) and the overall direction was superb. I never felt like the pacing was off or that exposition was being forced down my throat to make time for more action; plus, the Centre was an effective villain, revealing very little until the grand finale and even then maintaining a solid air of mystery and threat.
Sure, it would have been nice to get a little more explanation regarding the Centre, but honestly, with all the hero-based subplots, Mars missions, governmental regulation and just plain fun going on, the villain's time was sufficient. It provided a very literal core (or centre...) around which the various threads could wind, slowly coming closer and closer together until they all culminated naturally. Except for Aquaman. Why was there an Aquaman? Where did he come from? More importantly, why wasn't he actually helping! Oh well, never mind, all the other heroes were on point, with solid, character-driven dialogue and a general feeling of actual heroism... which isn't that common these days. Top marks all round!