Superman vs. the Elite
Superman vs. the Elite 2012
When I started this site, I had planned to watch only theatrical movies including all the movies that come out this year. But when I recently decided to also watch other types of releases I had forgotten to check out straight to video release dates. So I didn’t even realize that this movie had come out last Tuesday until just a few days ago, so I had to give it a look. It’s yet another DC Animated movie from producer Bruce Timm, whose name you’ll hear a lot anytime superheroes and animation are brought up. And honestly, this is one of the best of these animated movies I’ve seen so far, from the animation, to the story, to the characters, to actually getting to tell an interesting Superman story, it’s all here. It even got my wife and daughter hooked through the whole thing.
The crux of the story is really a breakdown of the entire idea of Superman itself. It takes an honest look at itself and asks the important questions. “Does Superman really make a difference when the super criminals he puts away just come back time and time again?” “Why doesn’t he just kill them?” “Is it right?” “Is he old fashioned?” “Is Superman the hero that the world needs right now?” The last question is specifically important because it’s not just a question about the fictional world of Metropolis, but it’s a question about the character himself. In a world full of superheroes, has Superman become boring? Is he still the one people care about? In the movie, the questions aren’t just asked, there’s a group of new supers on the block who eventually call themselves the Elite. They’re not afraid to get their hands dirty when they believe they’re right, and the public immediately fall in love with them, while making Superman look like a fool. And there’s also the case of the Atomic Skull. He’s a violent megapowered psychopath who kills just to get Superman’s attention and is a repeat escapee. Yes, Superman deals with him every time he gets out, but there are more casualties every time. The movie never really gives a definitive answer as to what is the right decision on how to handle this villain, it merely presents both sides of the argument.
The Elite themselves are an interesting bunch. They all have a bit of a villainous edge to them, with Menagerie and Hat who are both able to summon some pretty monstrous looking demons with Menagerie looking pretty monstrous in general. There’s also Coldcast who looks like he busted out of some sort of prison or chain gang or something. And finally there’s Manchester Black who looks kind of like the lead singer of the Sex Pistols with purple hair, earrings, and the Union Jack tattooed across his entire chest. Which by the way, the opening credits remind me a bit of the Sex Pistol’s album cover. I think that’s really my biggest gripe with this movie, and it’s honestly a very small gripe. When you watch the movie, you get the initial impression that the Elite will be the villains of the movie combined with the fact that the movie is titled “Superman vs. the Elite”. It would have been much more interesting if the Elite were left more ambiguous, like if they appeared much more heroic while still acting the same way. But they are still interesting characters that present a unique dilemma to Superman.
I have to go on a slight sidetrack and mention that my first real introduction to Superman as a character was the 90’s TV series Lois and Clark. In the show, the main focus was almost always on the relationship between Lois and Clark. In regards to the strength of that relationship from that show, this movie feels like it is a continuation of that relationship. Lois is a very strong character who is deeply in love with Clark/Superman and you can tell that she really cares for him, but she is also a strong character herself. She holds her ground when it comes to a story, and she’s there for Superman when he really needs her.
And of course, what would a Superman movie be without some epic action scenes. While the first few fight scenes do get cut off a little bit due to the Elite making their presence known and use the situations to showcase their own powers while Supes mostly sits back, watches, and looks surprised. But as the movie goes on, he gets to show off more and more, and the climactic battle is an epic showcase of what Superman is capable of. The movie is all about the moral grey areas and it covers it beautifully without giving a clear right or wrong answer, aside from the one answer that Superman always gives. But there is still a lingering question of whether Superman is always right to do things his way. He is always portrayed as the stand up guy who is always right, never wrong, and will always win. This movie is a great showcase of Superman’s doubts, his fears, his insecurities. He doesn’t always feel like it’s worth it, or even if he’s going to make it out alive, and yet he still fights for what he believes in. And in the end, that’s what it means to be Superman. If you get the chance, you have to check out this movie, whether you’re a fan of Superman, or especially if you think a good Superman story can’t be told. This movie totally gets it right in all the right places. Until next time, this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.