Well DC’s favorite son has yet another new animated film being released this summer. That’s right Superman gets another film, tied at three solo films with his brother in arms Batman, this latest adventure is by far the best and most poignant of his escapades to be released on Blu-ray/Dvd Combo. “Superman Vs The Elite” is a slambang action flick, but it also asks a very serious question about the character and methods of Superman.
That question is simple: In this day and age does Superman’s moral code and methods still hold weight, or is Superman’s way no longer relevant? The question originally came up in the Action Comics issue #775 which this film is based on. Written by Joe Kelly it is highly regarded as one of the best and most important Superman stories of this generation if not of all time. I read the issue myself and loved it. It was a response to Mark Millar’s “The Authority” which basically took the idea of the Justice League and made it a lot more violent and gritty. The heroes killed the villains and took a no prisoners attitude towards their work. They also began to take it upon themselves to interfere with governments and such.
In #775 and the film, which is also written by Joe Kelly (the same way “Under the Red Hood” was written by the author of the original comic), a new group comes on the scene. Although they start off as fans and would be peers to Superman, things quickly degenerate when Superman realizes they are willing to go to that dark place where he won’t. When a villain that is captured early in the film escapes and causes all sorts of death and destruction the public starts to actually turn on its beloved man of steel. This version of the story shares all the same beats as the comic with a slight exception. This story was tweaked for a post 9/11 world. It’s very much about terrorism, and accountability and it works very well here.
As usual there are two things that make these DC/Warner Premier films so great, the animation and the voice acting. The animation as usual is on point. The action flows marvelously from scene to scene. The character designs, though different, evoke the powerful stature that Doug Mahnke gives Superman and other powerful characters (and it reminds me of “Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes” which is not a bad thing at all). Once again voice director extraordinaire Andrea Romano did a great job. George Newbern returns as Superman from Justice League and is spot on, though curiously I think they should’ve put Tim Daly, the original voice of Superman, in this instead of the last Justice League film (but I think Romano wanted to get her original cast back with Daly the way it was supposed to be for JL, before he had other obligations) and had Newbern in “Doom” but I digress. Pauley Perette (NCIS) voices a raspier Lois Lane, but it actually works and gives her a little more edge. Rounding out the cast is Robin Atkins Downes, a veteran voice actor, as the voice of the charismatic Union Jack tattooed Manchester Black, leader of the Elite. I really have got to say he was hands down my favorite. All of the elite are given a few moments to shine but hearing Black address the public is just awesome.
Special features include as always a look back at past DC animated films, as well as commentary from writer Joe Kelly and Eddie Berganza. There are two featurettes, one about Superman’s morals and another featuring the Elite. Also included is a digital copy of Action Comics #775 to see where the movie began life, and as usual there are two episodes picked to go along with this new release, only this time they are picked by Alan Burnett, and not Bruce Timm. I’m absolutely fine with that as Burnett has had a long storied career in animation. And last but certainly not least is a sneak peek at “Batman: The Dark Knight Returns,” the animated film based on Frank Miller’s seminal work. All I can say is I can’t wait til fall.
“Superman Vs Elite” is by far the best Superman animated film out, and though the animation does take some getting used to it is beautiful to watch and a great story to experience.
Michael Chang (director) / Joe Kelly (screenplay)
CAST: George Newbern … Superman (voice)
Pauley Perrette … Lois Lane (voice)
Steve Blum … (voice)
Catero Colbert … Coldcast (voice)
Melissa Disney … Menagerie (voice)
Robin Atkin Downes … Manchester Black (voice)
Crispin Freeman … (voice)
David Kaufman … Jimmy Olsen (voice)