Visual Vandalism– Adi Shankar’s ‘The Guardians of Justice’ Reviewed

by Tito W. James

The Guardians of Justice is a mixed-media satirical black comedy created by Adi Shankar that utilizes “bootleg” versions of popular superheroes. Shankar is best known as a producer on Netflix’s Castlevania, cult hits like Dread, and his viral R-rated Power/Rangers fan film. Chief inspirations for The Guardians of Justice include Dr. Strangelove Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, the satyrical nature of Robocop and Total Recall, as well as Shankar’s own battles will mental illness.

With the rise of stories like The Boys, Invincible, Jupiter’s Legacy, and Zack Snyder’s Justice League, edgy deconstructionist superheroes are hardly a new concept. What makes Guardians of Justice distinctive is its use of mixed media and overall B-movie VHS tape aesthetic. Scenes shift from live-action, to animation, stop-motion, miniature sets, and pixel art with the speed of a 14-year-old editing an AMV.

When early Hip Hop artists utilized graffiti and remixes as part of their art form, they took items, spaces, and sounds that society had discarded and repurposed them to convey their message. Just as graffiti will appear as vandalism to some and street art to others The Guardians of Justice will be a polarizing series. But like all true outlaw art, the vulgarity and defacement of institutional icons serve a purpose. The Guardians of Justice is what happens when a generation grows up on superheroes, Saturday morning cartoons, violent video games, all while under the weight of a 20-year war on terror.

If you’re a fan of Shankar’s Youtube channel or B-movie parodies in the same vein as Kung Fury ,then you’ll get what you came for. I mentioned in an earlier article about seeing a resurgence of stylization in the same vein as films of the Kickass, Scott Pilgrim, and Sin City era. The Guardians of Justice takes the stylization of that era and cranks up the neon. As a diehard artistic “Formalist” I was hypnotized by the series.

I think Guardians of Justice strikes a creative nerve that zillions of other B-movies miss. While Guardians of Justice is clearly influenced by all of the pop culture that came before, I believe you’ll see its influence in the next wave of indie creators that come after.

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