Some Thoughts on Superman/Batman: Apocalypse

A column article, Shot For Shot by: Charles Webb
Superman/Batman: Apocalypse (2010)
Director: Lauren Montgomery
Writer: Tab Murphy, based on a story by Jeph Loeb
Starring: Tim Daly, Kevin Conroy, Summer Glau, Susan Eisenberg, Andre Braugher
Release Date: September 28, 2010

Next week, Comics Bulletin will be bringing you a Sunday Slugfest for the new animated Superman/Batman movie. So in lieu of a full review here, I figured I’d share with you some thoughts that ran through my head while watching DC’s new animated joint:

Cool titles, bro: Typically, these animated features from DC have some great title sequences. This one doesn’t disappoint.

Whoa, these things have continuity: The opening crawl through Gotham city is accompanied by newscasters discussing the impeachment of President Luthor, last seen in Superman/Batman: Public Enemies, which was not very good. If you’ll recall, Luthor was getting hauled off to the slammer for meteor theft, I think. It’s just a little touch here and there but it’s just kind of interesting to see the writers trying to connect the productions.

Superman and Batman sound just right: Actually, it’s a mini animated Justice League reunion, with Tim Daly returning as Superman, ditto for Kevin Conroy as Bats, and Susan Eisenberg as Wonder Woman. Over the may DC animated films that have come down the pipe there have been several Supermen and Batmen, played to varying effect by talented actors. But they always sound off somehow. So it’s nice to hear the actors back in the roles again, if only for a short time.

In fact, the voice acting is one of the strongest parts of the production with the above leads slipping right back into their roles and Andre Braugher adding some extra menace as Darkseid. Even though I missed hearing Michael Ironside in that role, Braugher owned it. But he’s nothing compared to:

Ed. Asner. Is. Granny. Goodness: Nothing more to add to that. He handled the voice in Justice League and he’s doing the same thing here: being the best damned gruff-voiced sadistic, muscle-bound granny ever.

Superman and Batman look weird: Check out those screenshots—the animators went for a very angular look of Peter Chung’s Aeon Flux. That would be an odd enough direction to go but then the other characters (Wonder Woman, Granny, Kara, the Furies) look more in line with the recent DC Animated “house” style (which is to say, not quite as stylized as the stuff in Batman: The Animated Series or even JL. The contrast is often jarring when the characters are standing the same scene with others who have a vastly different aesthetic.

But what if it were animated in the style of Clayton Crain: The cover is done by, I believe, Clayton Crain, recently of Marvel’s X-Force relaunch. How odd would it be to have an entire feature done in that moody, dark line-heavy style? Nothing more to add to that—it’d just be interesting to see.

Where’s Mr. Miracle? The team needs to bust Kara out of Apokalips so they go to… Big Barda? Thematically, it works in terms of connecting Kara with someone who was once a slave of Darkseid. But then, wasn’t Mr. Miracle? It wouldn’t even be such a big deal if the there wasn’t a deliberate shot of his costume hanging in a closet.

Bicycle kicks. Lots of them. Whatever the merits are of the rest of the movie, the action scenes are handled a lot better than say, Public Enemies. This time around they feel like they have room to breathe and give the characters a chance to move around in space in interesting ways. But the most visually interesting thing is the super-powered bicycle kicks delivered by Kara throughout.

More DC Showcase, please: The disc has an animated short featuring Green Arrow in what looks to be part of their DC Showcase line. The story--Ollie goes to pick up Dinah at the airport and ends up saving a princess—is no great shakes. But it doesn’t have time to wear out its welcome, either. I’d be happy to see more of these that give play to DC characters that otherwise wouldn’t get featured in a full-length production.

…And that’s it. You’ll have to wait until next week for a full review. Until then, keep watching this space for reviews, news, and contests (Did you enter the Monster contest yet? And we have something pretty great coming on Tuesday).

You can find the trailer here:

If you liked this review, be sure to check out more of Charles Webb's work at his blog Monster In Your Veins.

Community Discussion