This week on STS we take a look at Superman/Batman: Public Enemies. This 2009 animated movie is based on JephLoeb and Ed McGuinness’s original story of the same name that launched the Superman/Batman comic book series.
Title: Superman/Batman: Public Enemies
Written by: Stan Berkowitz, Jeph Loeb (original story), Ed McGuinness
Director: Sam Liu
Company: Warner Bros. Animation, DC Entertainment
Distributed by: Warner Home Video
US Release Date: September 29, 2009
Length: 67 min.
MPAA: Rated PG-13
The world has gotten bad, crime is out of control, and a desperate country has elected Lex Luthor as President in hopes that he can make it all better. To everyone’s surprise, he actually succeeds, and in doing so, gains the support of the people, which he uses to fuel his campaign against costumed heroes. President Luthor is even able to get most of the heroes to start working for the government and so, in turn, working for him. Soon after, an opportunity arises for Lex to turn the public against Superman, in the form of a giant Kryptonite meteor headed directly for earth. Lex frames Superman for the murder of Metallo, and then convinces people that Superman has gone crazy due to the extreme levels of Kryptonite radiation emanating from the meteor. With the support of the people, Lex quickly brands Superman a public enemy of the state and places a billion dollar bounty on his head.
As all hands turn against the Man of Steel, he turns to his “best friend,” Batman, to help him get out of this jam and stop the meteor from destroying the earth. Superman and Batman are put through the ringer as they fight their way through an army of super-villains interested in getting the bounty, and even a few that are not interested, but have been placed under mind control by Gorilla Grodd. Just as things seem to be getting out of control, the duo are temporarily rescued by a group of heroes under the command of Captain Atom. The moment of safety doesn’t last long, as the group reveals that they have been sent by Luthor to bring Superman into custody. With very few allies on their side, Superman and Batman must find a way to clear Superman’s name, impeach the president of the United States, save the earth from destruction, and stay alive while under constant attack by friend and foe alike. For anyone else, the odds of winning might be impossible, but for “the World’s Finest,” it’s just another day at the office.
Superman/Batman: Public Enemies is definitely a fun adventure and a must-see for anyone who enjoys seeing these two team up. Fans of Justice League (Unlimited) and Superman TAS will also be pleased to see that fan favorites Kevin Conroy, Tim Daly, Clancy Brown, and CCH Pounder all reprise their roles of Batman, Superman, Lex Luthor, and Amanda Waller, respectively. Smallville fans may also take note that Power Girl is voiced by Chloe Sullivan herself, Allison Mack. Power Girl has an interesting arc in the story as she is forced to choose between Superman and the rest of the country. She is also part of some great comedic moments as she is teamed up with Hiro Okamura, the super-smart, teenaged Toyman. Hiro is fascinated by Power Girl’s two biggest…assets, as any adolescent boy would be.
The character designs in this movie, which are based off Ed McGuinness’s artwork, are way too exaggerated. Both Batman and Superman look like mutated body builders with muscles on top of their muscles. Even Lex Luthor seems as though he could have been played by Arnold Schwarzenegger if this were a live action film. This problem wasn’t a big deal, but it was distracting. I also feel that this is one of those instances where the story lost some of its appeal in the translation from book to screen. For time purposes the movie obviously had to cut out parts of the story that were in the comic, but I was disappointed to see two parts in particular that were cut. The first is a great scene where the entire Batman and Superman family of heroes shows up and lends a hand to their mentors. The other scene is one in which Superman is holding Lex and contemplating killing him with Batman’s encouragement. The biggest aspect that the story lost, though, was being able to know the thoughts that were going through Batman and Superman’s minds. Throughout the comic, Superman’s and Batman’s thoughts on each other are constantly present in thought boxes on each page. Loeb gives great insight into what each of the heroes really thinks about the others. He even goes as far as to retell both men’s origins, but from the other’s perspective. This clever idea to see the characters through each other’s eyes was one of the best things about this series, but sadly it could not realistically work in movie form.
Even with these failings, the movie is still a very good Batman/Superman story. As a long time fan of the DC animated universe, the fact that so many cast members reprised their iconic roles for this movie was enough to win me over. If you are a fan of the big two and haven’t gotten around to checking this one out yet, I recommend that you pick up a copy soon. If you get the two disc DVD set, it also has some great extras, including a special meal with the DC Universe creative team and the best Batman ever, Kevin Conroy. I also recommend the first Superman/Batman TP as it contains the original story in its entirety.
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