Sep 10, 2012

[Movies] Superman vs. The Elite (2012)

Superman has never been one of my favorite characters in the DC Universe. There's just something about him that has always rubbed me the wrong way, perhaps mainly due to the nature of his ridiculously formmidable powers only by the virture of his birth and proximity to a yellow sun. In other words, lucking out in some cosmic lottery of sorts.

On the flip side there are the heroes that I do respect, or the ones that I can't help by enjoy reading about. A good example of this would happen to be The Authority, especially given how Tobie made me read quite a number of their comics to get a full appreciation of just how formidable group really is. Plus yay for Apollo and Midnighter!

But The Authority represented a very different take on the superhero genre. While their power set was largely patterned after the JLA, what truly set them apart was their harsher view of things and their more, well, proactive view of dealing with superhuman threats to the planet and how best to deal with Earth's governments in dispensing their unique brand of justice. And naturally that lead to a counter reaction within the comics community including this story.


Synopsis: Superman vs The Elite is a 2012 animated movie released under the DC Universe Animated Origional Movies imprint. It was directed by Michael Chang based on the original comic story "What's So Funny About Truth, Justice & the American Away?" by Joe Kelly, who also wrtote the original comic.

The movie begins with a pretty straightforward battle between Superman (George Newbern) and Atomic Skull (Dee Bradley Baker), which ultimately ends with Atomic Skull's capture. One thing leads to another and Superman eventually meets Manchester Black (Robin Artkin Downes), who leads an alternate group of superheroes. They help him with a particulary challenging threat and initially Superman is generally appreciative of the help.

But soon these heroes, who eventually call themselves The Elites, start dispensing with their own unique brand of justice - one that involves a willingness to use lethal force to bring a permanent end to particular threats. Plus they also seem to have less concern for wide scale property damage as part of their efforts to deal with super villains. This goes against Superman's general principal of not killing his enemies and the philsophical argument becomes a physical one when The Elites eventually challenge Superman himself.

The Elite in the comic
Now The Elites are a blatant parody of The Authority given their general composition. You have their telekinetic leader Manchester Black, who is sort of like a super-powered version of Jenny Sparks. Eletromagnetic manipulator Coldcast (Catero Colbert) whose power set doesn't have a clear Authority equivalent beyond maybe Apollo to a very limited extent, Hat (Andrew Kishino) is a magical copy of The Doctor and Menagerie (Melissa Disney) is an alien weapons cache hybrid version of The Engineer. And that's okay - it's what makes this such an interesting counterpoint to the popularity that comics like The Authority gained at the time of its initial release.

And then you have Superman taking on the full team all by himself. No Batman just happening to visit Metropolis at the right moment. No Green Lantern back from consulting with the Guardians on Oa. You get the picture. And thus it does make for some rather interesting fight scenes throughout the animated feature.

On the flip side though, there were a lot of moments in the movie taht felt rather dragging, almost to the point of becoming boring. We had been unable to watch the movie from start to finish in one go and ended up dividing our viewing schedule into two because of how the movie just didn't grip us.

It's hard to pinpoint exactly what felt so wrong about the movie. Maybe the voice actors didn't quite convey the edge that we expected from these Authority analogs. Perhaps the dialog which probably made more sense in the comics didn't translate as well when said aloud or whatever. Or maybe Lois Lane (Pauley Perrette) was just totally WRONG. Whatever.

The movie largely toys around with the big philosophical debate about superhuman use of lethal force as a sort of metaphor for our own appreciation for violance. We have seen so many comic book characters become "more realistic" over the years, which tends to mean them being more violent and more willing to blur the lines between good and evil. It reflects a shift in our larger cultural values from the cookie cutter black and white world of the past to the harsher world of grays that is the contemporary period. And ultimately the only answer the story provides is that Superman is Superman.

Superman vs. The Elites wasn't as fun as I hoped to be given the weird voice acting at times and the accompanying heavy-handed moralism woven into the narrative. You can argue that this was all part of the original story as well, and thus maye the question is whether or not it was a good idea to adapt this story at all. Still, the movie still manages 3.5 magical creations summoned by Hat out of a possible 5.


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6 comments:

Ria Hazel said...

There's too much Superman movies :) I bet you can't wait for the next movie, (not the animated, though). I've seen the trailer last week and it seems awesome :)

Geeky Guide said...

Nah, I'm not exactly a Superman fan.

Ria Hazel said...

Oh I see. I'm not a fan too, but I wanna see it just to follow with the previous movies :)

Geeky Guide said...

The new movie is yet another reboot though, but may be worth watching.

,,,plus Henry Cavill is pretty hot, hehe

Demi Barbra Angeles said...

Where'd you get to watch it? This is the first time I've heard of The Elite :)

Geeky Guide said...

I had to download a copy, hehe

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