Since writing about TV or movies seems to get more blog traffic than just writing about comics, and since I’ve not written enough on here lately about animation, I thought I’d give this a go. Basically, there’s a long list of films I’ve missed seeing or put off watching for various reasons. I figured with the start of a new year, it’s high time I actually watched them. The films on my list range from recent theatrical fare (“Frankenweenie”) to some older ones (“The Nightmare Before Christmas”). So, I thought I’d write up my thoughts on said films.
The first (all-animated) one on the list is 2012’s “Superman Versus the Elite,” a story based on “Action Comics” #776 from 2001. Since 2001, the comic story’s become highly regarded as a modern-day classic Superman story. It’s also made it into the newer versions of the “Superman: The Greatest Stories Ever Told” trade paperback.
The movie shares the comic’s general storyline. The world becomes enamored with a new group of superheroes, named “The Elite,” who’re led by a British guy named Manchester Black. Said group (a pastiche of Warren Ellis’ “The Authority“) takes a dim view of Superman’s strong morality, feeling that his morals are “outdated.” Their methods of crime-fighting, in turn, are extremely vigilantist and brutal. As such, they go as far as killing their foes. The fact they’re cheered on by an enthusiastic public makes Clark and Lois worried. (The two are married here, as in the original comic.)
I enjoyed the comic story. The film version was also entertaining, though it has some differences from the comic. The things that stood out the most was the film including more of the “classic” (read: Silver/Bronze Age) Superman elements, albeit mixed with a story that took advantage of its PG-13 rating. Said elements include a few on-screen deaths, mainly via either the Elite or old minor Superman foe the Atomic Skull.
The film also includes appearances by the bottle city of Kandor, the Superman robots (looking more robotic than android here), and the giant key outside the Fortress (which Black comments on). There’s also more additions to the original story, via use of the Atomic Skull and one of DC’s favorite fictional-stand-ins-for-Iraq, per trying to expand a 22-page comic into a 76-minute film. Lois is written with an active role in this story. We see her perform her usual journalism duties and discover important information about the Elite.
The other detail that stood out was the animation. The film’s style resembled a well-animated version of “What’s New, Scooby Doo?” for many of the characters. However, it felt like it clashed with moments where the characters did something PG-13-rated, such as curse, or Black’s use of colorful British slang. Then again, I might be used to the more “realistic” style of many of the DC animated features/TV shows of late (“Young Justice,” etc.).
The voice work also has familiarity. George Newbern (from “Justice League”) returns to voice the Man of Steel. Pauley Perrette’s voicing of Lois reminds me of Dana Delaney’s rendition on “Superman: The Animated Series.”