The DC Universe straight-to-DVD movies from Warner Bros. Animation have been killing it lately. I still haven’t seen Batman: Red Hood even though it’s on Netflix Instant, but I’ve heard good things and had a great time watching Superman/Batman: Apocalypse. It’s kind of interesting that they’ve created this little sub-universe of movies based on Jeph Loeb’s Superman/Batman run which started with Public Enemies, a movie I liked a lot much to my surprise.
I was not surprised at all that I liked Apocalypse. the run of the comic that the movie is based on is one of my favorite guilty pleasures of all time. Superman, Batman, Woonder Woman and the Amazons facing off against an army of Doomsdays? Perfect. Batman racing around on Orion’s Astro-Harness? Awesome. Batman punching Darkseid in the face and using his smarts to get what he wants from the villain? Amazing. It’s probably my favorite comic by Loeb and definitely my favorite Michael Turner-drawn book.
And the movie doesn’t disappoint, even though we don’t see Batman punch Darkseid. The flick does a great job with the action sequences and thankfully takes out that ultra-lame speech Superman gives Darkseid in the last issue about Supergirl not being able to eat apple pie or whatever. I actually got chills when it was time for the Doomsday fight. I got such a kick out of the idea of a legion of the creature that killed Superman fighting some of the toughest women in the DCU plus Batman. Overall, I had a great time with this movie and it made me want to get my hands on the trade again (I swapped it a while back after a somewhat ill-advised shelf purge), which brings the WB good list up to include New Frontier, Green Lantern: First Flight, Wonder Woman, Public Enemies, Crisis On Two Earths and now Apocalypse with the only stumbling blocks in my opinion being the first two attempts: Superman/Doomsday and Batman: Gotham Knight. Even with such a great streak going, I’m nervous about All-Star Superman because the original comic is such a masterpiece. Can’t wait to see Green Lantern: Emerald Knights (longs as it’s better than Gotham Knights) because I’m all for more GL. I’ve yet to see any of the shorts yet, how have those been?
So far we’ve gotten six offerings from DC’s animated universe straight-to-DVD movies. Here’s how they break down for me:
Batman: Gotham Knight
Justice League: The New Frontier
Green Lantern: First Flight
The bad ones are bad either because they strayed way too far from the original concept (Superman/Doomsday) or were just plain old boring (I think you can figure out which one that is). The good ones either stick to an existing story or create a brand new story using the basic mythos. For whatever reason, I had some pretty big reservations about Public Enemies. Maybe it’s because I wasn’t a big fan of the comics the movie was based on. Jeph Loeb’s Superman/Batman (or as Em calls it SuperBatman) was a big fun popcorn comic that was dragged down by the interminable thought boxes he through in so that you could see how Superman and Batman think about each other. It was SOOO boring.
Anyway, after watching PE last night I would definitely put this one in the good column. I’m not a big fan of mixing the voice talents of previous incarnations with a different art style. I keep hearing Kevin Conroy as Batman and Tim Daly and expecting to see the classic Batman/Superman/JL/JLU versions of these characters. It’s a small complaint and really the only one I’ve got. I like how they used Ed McGuinness’s art to base the animation on, though it could have been a little bigger. The basic story follows that of the comic: Lex Luthor’s president, he’s got some heroes and villains working for him, tries to turn the world against Superman because there’s a big Kryptonite meteor coming towards Earth and Superman and Batman have to put a stop to it.
It’s been a while since I’ve read the comics (or more accurately looked at the pretty pictures) so I can’t remember how closely the movie mirrors the comic. You don’t get a teaming up of Superman and Batman’s family of heroes coming to the rescue, but you do get the fight between the dynamic duo and Hawkman and Capt. Marvel. There’s also a JLU-worthy fight in the episode where Supes and Bats fight a giant army of villains because Luthor put a bounty on Supes’ head. While the action scenes are a lot of fun, I’m not sure how well the story is told. It’s hard for me to judge because I did read the comics and all the comics from around that time, so I’ve got a lot of extra info bouncing around my head. I think Em had a pretty easy time following, but again, she’s read a lot of that stuff too. Then again, I don’t know how many non-comic fans will be checking these DVDs out. Hopefully a good deal will, then they’ll fall in love with these characters and start following their adventures in comic book form. Ha, who am I kidding? That almost never happens for ongoing comics.