Drawn That Way: Superman/Batman: Apocalypse
By Daniel Pellegrino
September 22, 2010
In the last ten years, Batman has certainly won the "Mine’s bigger than yours" argument with fellow superhero, Superman. Batman Begins and The Dark Knight have easily overshadowed Superman’s recent effort, Superman Returns. In the live action world, even Iron Man, Thor and Captain America seem to be getting more press. Does this mean Superman is DOA? Certainly not. DC is instead focusing their "man of steel" efforts on the animation world, most recently in the action-packed film, Superman/Batman: Apocalypse.
Let’s get one thing out of the way, this is not Batman’s movie. If you’re looking for a solid caped crusader vehicle, check out Batman: Under the Red Hood, a recent animated Batman film that far exceeded expectations. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it) this film exists in Superman’s world. The movie is based on the "Supergirl from Krypton" storyline from the comics, and is a sequel, of sorts, to Superman/Batman: Public Enemies. More specifically, it introduces Supergirl and showcases her initial struggle with the dark side. Batman swoops in every now and again to doubt her intentions, but he is mostly around for DVD marketing purposes. The story is pretty straightforward, but I get the impression creators amped up the action sequences to appeal to the young male demographic who might not otherwise be interested in a female-centric story. Darkseid is the central villain, while Wonder Woman provides ample support to the male heroes.
I mentioned the action. This movie is all action. The story is secondary to the fight sequences and explosions. So, does the animation stack up? I’d say, yes. The animated films have grown in popularity over recent years, so it would make sense that with each subsequent film, bigger budgets are allotted. It is clear that there are great animators involved as you can see greater detail in set pieces and special effects. Because this is also considered a sequel to Superman/Batman: Public Enemies, we get a familiar artistic style to the predecessor. It’s nice to see continuity among these animated films since there seems to be a new one every few months.
Let’s chat about the vocal talents. I’m continually impressed when they cast the same vocal talents in various animated films. Tim Daly makes a great Clark Kent/Superman; Kevin Conroy is a fantastic Batman. Most people complain that Christopher Nolan’s Batman has a ridiculous voice. If only someone would re-dub Kevin Conroy over Christian Bale’s growling, those films would be almost perfect. That same person would also go into Batman Begins and re-shoot that robot’s (Katie Holmes) scenes with Maggie Gyllenhaal. I digress. Carl Fredricksen himself, Ed Asner, reprises his role as Granny Goodness (playing the toughest old broad since Vicki Lawrence hit the small screen as Thelma Harper), while Summer Glau plays Kara/Supergirl. She was fine. Nothing particularly mind-blowing, but she served the purpose. It seemed like there wasn’t a whole lot of dialogue, instead most of the audio came from explosions and fighting, so turn on the surround sound.
So what didn’t I like? The film comes in a little under 1 hour and 20 minutes. The time flies by a little too quick. I would have liked to see the story broken up into two films, with more interaction among the characters. Every time the characters stopped to talk about something, it seemed like they were just getting the dialogue out so they could move on to the next action scene. That said, this will definitely appeal to young boys who just want to see a bunch of kick-ass fighting.
Superman/Batman: Apocalypse is a solid entry into the animated superhero genre. It’s certainly not as strong as some of the other animated DC work (most notably, Batman: The Animated Series). However, it is a great diversion for a Saturday morning, and a faithful adaptation of the comic it’s based on. I hope it is successful enough to warrant another entry in the Superman/Batman series. I have a feeling that these films would play great if marathoned together in one sitting.
One more thing, I would just like to point out something I feel strongly about - the simple fact that Batman doesn’t actually have any super powers except being a badass means that in my book, Batman>Superman. Discuss amongst yourselves.