As we continue our regular look back the many DC Universe animated original movies, Matt Donabie checks out the 2009 release Superman/Batman: Public Enemies.
Kevin Conroy as Batman, Tim Daly as Superman, in an animated film based
on one of my favorite graphic novels. What could go wrong?
The sixth movie in DC's straight to DVD animated movies series is possibly the most frustrating.
Based on a six issue comic story of the same name written by Jeph Loeb, Superman/Batman: Public Enemies sees the world's two greatest heroes turned into fugitives by Lex Luthor, now President of the United States! How did he make it to the White House? Well during a time of severe economic downturn and
financial crisis, the United States turned to him in desperation, hoping his vast resources could
turn things around for the better.
After the discovery of a gigantic
Kryptonite filled meteorite set on a
collision course with earth, President Lutohr spins the situation to his advantage and gets Superman branded as a criminal. With Batman's help, the duo have to fend off villains who are after the $1billion reward on Superman's head, and the heroes who have Presidential orders to bring him. All the while the pair have to find way to stop the meteor and clear Superman's name.
A brilliant premise, and a brilliant comic book, but it lost a lot in translation to the screen.
First, there's the length of the film. Most DC animated movies are 75 minutes+, this one is only 67 minutes, with 6 of them taken up with titles/credits. Then there's the character designs, which are a little strange to say the least, and not on par with the usual DC animated standard. Now I can't fully blame the animators here as they have stuck with the design style used by Ed
McGuinness in the original comic book, but it doesn't really work when animated. Many of the male characters are really muscular with overly smooth oddly shaped faces and tiny waists. The two main female characters are even stranger in design, with Amanda Waller bloated and downright grotesque and Power Girl sporting big anime style eyes that take up half her face and ridiculously large breasts.
There's also a variety of characters who appear and are not even name checked - confusing for casual viewers, and there is really no character development for anyone throughout. Strangely, Superman and Batman appear to be the closest friends, and we see no signs of the usual tension that exists between them. The story's adaptation is quite formulaic, and doesn't really endear itself to us the viewer.
However, with all its many faults it doesn't waste a second of the running time, and presents many awesome, kick ass action scenes throughout. Then, of course, you can't fault the vocal acting. The aforementioned Kevin Conroy and Tim Daly are joined by Clancy Brown as Lex Luthor, and Smallville's Allison Mack as Power Girl does well to impress amongst these vocal heavy hitters.
If you're a fan of DC Comics in general, then you'll likely love all the cameos from a huge array of characters. And this probably is really one for the fans, as the casual viewer will find it hard to forgive all the flaws.
Justice League: The New Frontier
Green Lantern: First Flight
Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths
Batman: Under The Red Hood
Superman/Shazam! The Return of Black Adam
Green Lantern: Emerald Knights
Batman: Year One
Justice League: Doom
Superman vs The Elite
Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox