Superman vs. The Elite tells the story of the public questioning of Superman’s nonlethal methods when a new team of heroes, called The Elite, stops villains for good. It’s adapted from Joe Kelly’s 2001 story “What’s so Funny About Truth, Justice, and the American Way?” and features the voice talent of the stars of Superman: The Animated Series, George Newberg (Superman) and David Kaufman (Jimmy Olson). Is this direct to DVD/Blu-Ray film an accurate portrayal of the source material or just another tired Superman movie that can only please die hard Man of Steel fans?
Superman’s usefulness comes into question as acts of terrorism are on the rise. Villains are wreaking havoc and killing innocent civilians again and again after only being locked up and eventually let out. A new team of ruthless superheroes decide to answer the call in the form of permanent justice. Eventually they run into the Man of Steel himself, and while they are allies for a short time, the Elite eventually show Superman how they like to handle things, which does not sit well with Superman.
As a recent DC comics fanboy who has been reading comics for a little over a year, now I’ve come to love a lot of different DC superheroes from Batman and Green Arrow, to lesser known heroes such as The Question and Booster Gold. As much as I wanted to learn about most of the DC superheroes I never really cared for, Superman is at the top of that list. Mainly because he never seemed like someone that you could dig into in terms of his character. I knew that he stood for truth, justice, and the American way and that really seemed to be it. After watching Superman vs. The Elite, I was pleasantly surprised that I was wrong about Superman being a one-dimensional character.
Even though Superman believes in not living above the law, sometimes he goes through periods when he wants the villain punished accordingly to his crime, maybe even having them killed, something that the people of metropolis start to demand. The film displayed these morality moments for him perfectly in one of the beginning scenes when Superman has to stop a villain who is killing innocent civilians just to draw Superman out to fight. Superman’s image among the people is the same as the one from the 50’s-60’s era, as the film portrays him as such in an intro cartoon and as a balloon mascot for a car dealership.
The major theme of the movie is in the comic book source material’s name. With a conflict involving two foreign countries going to war and various terrorist acts happening everywhere, makes the Elite’s approach that much more accepted amongst the people, especially when the debate of putting dangerous criminals in jail, just so that they can get or break out and do the same thing again comes up multiple times in the movie.
The Elite are adapted fairly from their comic book origins and the art style of the film is somewhat similar to the source material, but even with deviations, it still looks good and Superman’s Jay Leno-esque chin didn’t end up bothering me as much as I thought. The voice acting never fell flat, except a once or twice from Manchester’s supporting team, but not enough to distract from the movie.
I did like the little moments between Superman and Lois Lane that showed them acting like real couples, even showing Lois keeping Superman grounded. My only real complaint for this film is something that happens close to the end of the film that was meant to be a nod to the comic series that was spawned after this story, but it ended up feeling as if they were implying a possible part 2 to the story similar to the recent Dark Knight Returns release.
Even though the Elite are portrayed as villains in the trailers and, of course, the movie, they do start out as allies to Superman, but only for a short time until Superman sees their version of justice. Superman tries to tell them that even though he is not blind and knows there are bad people in the world, they cannot act above the law. In the end the Elite will not change and neither will Superman because both believe that they are doing the right thing. It leads into one of the most interesting and violent final showdowns in a Superman movie that I’ve seen. Add that to the violence and some of the dialogue in the film, this Superman movie definitely lives up to its PG-13 rating. Without spoiling anything all I can say is that people who have not read the source material or do not know much about Superman will get a good shocker towards the end of the film.
After watching this movie I can say I have a new found respect for Superman and have become a fan of the Man of Steel. I used to be bored of Superman’s never changing morale code, but after seeing one of the reasons why he stands for that morale code in this movie, I have to ask: “What is so funny about truth, justice, and the American way anyway?”
Runtime: 76 minutes
Rating: PG-13 for some intense sequences of violence and action
Director: Michael Chang
Cast: George Newbern, Pauley Perrette, Robin Atkin Downes, David Kaufman, Catero Colbert, Andrew Kishino, Melissa Disney, Fred Tatasciore
Genre: Animation, DC Comics, Superman, Movies
Distributor: Warner Premiere, DC Entertainment, Warner Bros. Animation and Warner Home Video Official Site: http://www.facebook.com/SupermanVsTheElite
Purchase: Blu-Ray, DVD, On-Demand
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