Even though I’ve recently become a DC comics fan, I’ve still been very reluctant to check out any of the DC animated movies that have come out in recent years. From the old shows that I remember from the 90s and the few clips I’ve seen of some of the movies, the animation style that DC tends to use always seems to turn me off to them. But, after discovering and getting up to date on the show Young Justice, along with some persuasion by Aoi Kurenai, I decided to give this shot.
The basic premise of the movie revolves around Superman being criticized for not taking more drastic measures when dealing with the bad guys and wanting a fair trial for all. Superman would rather capture super-villains and have them judged within the laws of the system while even some government officials would rather him just destroy these villains and get it over with. This opens a window for a new group of “heroes” to step in and handle things their way.
Lead by Manchester Black, The Elite swoop in and take charge, willing to do the dirty work that the Man of Steel refuses to do. Fueled by unpleasant pasts, The Elite strive to do away with any person who does harm to the innocent, by any means necessary. And the people love them. With their first victim being Atomic Skull, who had killed a high ranking official of the DC equivalent to the UN, The Elite wins over the world with their no nonsense approach, putting Superman on the forgettable side of the fence. And its up to him to figure out how to stop the Elite and regain the trust of the human population.
Now, I have to say that the story in this movie was actually really good. It dealt with an issue that I always had with Superman, which is his goodie two-shoes persona. One of the many reason that Superman is my least favorite superhero, aside from him being powerful in almost every way, is that he seems too perfect of a hero. Both Superman and his alter ego, Clark Kent, are good to the core which isn’t necessarily bad, but from what I’ve seen he never has real conflicts of morals that he deals with. Batman is always dealing with his past, Green Lantern always has that struggle with fear, but even with his world being destroyed, Superman is just annoyingly perfect.
With The Elite having similar goals as Superman, just with a different strategy, it really challenged his conviction to his morals. It’s easy to do the right thing when everyone agrees with you. But what about when people see your solution as a weakness? What about when people want a more direct approach? What do you do then? Do you continue the futile fight of winning through justice? Do you give in to the consensus and rationalize it as the ends justifying the means? This is something The Elite bring to the table, and is why they are my favorite part of this movie. But of course, this is a Superman movie, so you know that he will prevail. It was just really interesting to see how he did it.
The Elite, mainly Manchester Black, got a bit drunk with power and started to turn the world into their own dictatorship since no one was going to oppose them. This pushes Superman over the edge and he eventually turns into an evil Superman, red eyes, bad attitude, the works. He wrecks shop, disposing of each member of the Elite until it is just Manchester Black. He even destroys part of the city, seemingly killing innocent bystanders just to get to Black and destroy the part of his brain that enables his telekinesis. This scares Black shitless until he realizes that it was all an elaborate plot by Superman to breakdown Black’s resolve with the help of his….are they his Super-droids? I have no clue, but they protect all of the innocent people behind the scenes of this “staged play” and even capture the other Elite members behind the smoke and mirrors, giving the illusion that Superman has totally lost his shit. It was a good way to show the people of Metropolis and the world what could happen if they continue to support the brand of justice The Elite were championing.
Another thing that kind of surprised me was how much more mature this movie was from what I had imagined. This is the first DC animated movie I’ve seen in full and didn’t realize they could get away with some of the language used in this film. There are also a few rather graphic scenes in it, such as Atomic Skull’s, well, skull, being shattered to bits by Manchester Black. Or civilians being turned to dusts and crumbling to death. I didn’t see that one coming at all. Also, Menagerie is one horny little thing in this, seriously. She takes every chance to suggest that Superman do a little something-something to her. Definitely brought some raunchy humor to it, just never expected it.
The animation definitely was not as bad as I thought at first. There were enough details to not feel boring, and the character designs for Atomic Skull and The Elite were well done. The environments were okay, nothing to brag about. And the action was actually very well done. It’s not on par with something like Young Justice, but its more than enough to keep me interested. The only problem is Superman himself. He was the only character who seemed to have a lack of detail. Barely defining lines for muscle or face structure, other than his cleft chin. Just a big dude in blue spandex with an incredibly wide jaw. Especially after his suit redesign in the New 52 DC comics as well as in the upcoming Man of Steel movie, his design and animation seemed rather stale despite it being classic.
Overall, Superman vs The Elite was a very good movie. The story as well as the situations that Superman is put through are definitely the driving force of the movie. The first half does kind of drag on a bit to establish motive for The Elite, but once the ball gets rolling, it doesn’t stop till it smashes into …..something…..hard. I wasn’t sure where I was going with that analogy, but definitely check this movie out if you haven’t. If someone like me who has no interest in anything Superman-related can enjoy it, it must have done something right.
Also, if you learn anything from this movie, its this equation: Puckered sphincter = Evil Superman.