We all know that Superman is a boy scout, a goody-two-shoes, a guy who does things in the right moral way. We always see Kal-el and Lois Lane all cuddled up and stuff in her apartment, sometimes we even see Lois walking around in her underwear, but we know ain’t nothing going on because Superman isn’t down for that kind of premarital party. I don’t think they’re biologically compatible anyway. But if only Superman pushed the envelope a bit, got rid of these bad guys, permanently, who keep popping up over and over again. Lex Luthor probably should’ve been deep sixed eons ago, but that’s not what Superman does. Thus we have today’s Warner / DC Animated Feature, ‘Superman vs. The Elite’, with The Elite being a group of heroes who make the tough decisions in a brand new, tough world. Maybe being a boy scout in today’s game is little outdated? Maybe? Probably not, but the argument is a compelling one.
Atomic Skull (voiced by Dee Bradley Baker) is a bad man. Right now he’s walking through Metropolis vaporizing innocents, trying to draw Superman out. Dude, all you had to do was call his name. Steven Seagal said that. Anyway, Superman (George Newbern) has arrived, a battle ensues and eventually Atomic Skull is put down. But gosh darn, this guy is a murderer. Kills just for the fun of it. He needs to be silenced for good, but that’s not gonna happen as observed by the mysterious dude in the shadows.
Also going on right now is a
war between a couple of nations, think Gaza
Strip. One of these nations has developed
some crazy awesome bio-weapons, the kind of which
you would not believe and Superman is on his way
to end this nonsense. This time, however, he
has some help in the form of a new Super team that
will eventually be known as The Elite.
Manchester Black (Robin Atkin Downes) is there
powerful, psychokinetic leader, and we also have
the energy creating Cold Cast (Cotero Colbert),
the magical inducing The Hat (Andrew Kishino), and
the lizard spawning super slutty Menagerie
(Melissa Disney). The Elite assist Superman
in ending the menace, but he confides with Lois
(Pauley Perette), in another intimate evening in
which nothing is going to happen, that something
is off about these new heroes.
Yeah, something is wrong with these new heroes, depending on where you stand on the issue. Like when Atomic Skull broke out of jail… about this… he’s being held down by some kind of fancy electric device, and it would suck if the power went out. Hey Metropolis prison! How about a Backup Generator or something? Anyway, Atomic Skull breaks out, kills up a bunch more people, Superman fights him along with his new friends the Elite, but this time when they put him down… well… Atomic Skull won’t be killing nobody no more. Then there’s that war we were telling you about, and the Elite kind of intervened in a way that I’m sure many have thought about but nobody ever did.
Superman is really upset with these guys, but the public is on their side. Maybe Superman and his beliefs are out of touch. The Elite sure thinks so, feeling really good about themselves, and in fact they conclude that the era of Superman is over. Maybe the world would be better off if Superman just died. Or was killed. Uh guys… its Super Freaking Man. Don’t let the tights and cape, and underwear outside the tights fool you. Totalitarian anarchy will be averted.
None of the Warner / DC animated features are ever anything that we would call bad, each bringing some form of entertainment to the table, but obviously some are better than others. Superman, for whatever reason usually comes out on the short end, be it the unfocused nature of ‘All-Star Superman’, or the focus on Supergirl in ‘Superman / Batman Apocalypse’ with ‘Superman Doomsday’ probably being the best of the stories in which Superman headlines, but ‘Superman vs. The Elite’ may be the best we’ve seen of the Man of Steel in a film where he doesn’t share the stage with other heroes.
Superman gets a little political with us on this one, going beyond simple Good vs. Evil, but asking us to define our meaning of justice while blurring the line of right vs. wrong. The Elite weren’t your typical bad guys, and early in the film it could be argued that they weren’t bad at all, maybe a little misguided, but it wouldn’t take too much of an argument to justify their actions. To the story’s credit, everything that The Elite did, no matter how reprehensible, didn’t come with any cut and dried answers. True enough, they probably shouldn’t be doing what they were doing, but whose to say.
The animation was of high quality, the voice acting was solid, naturally there was plenty of animated mayhem, this one being one of the more violent of these films. It seems the filmmakers over at Warner / DC are slowly increasing the adult content of these animated features, pushing the limits on the violence, language and innuendo while still keeping the overall product reasonably accessible. This one also does a better job of manipulating the mandated 75 minute running time imposed on these movies, with director Michael Chang able to manage the various action and story elements in a way that the movie didn’t feel rushed, as they have tended to come off in the past. There are some story elements that were lacking, or completely missing, particularly the back story on the other members of the Elite beyond Manchester Black but you do what you can with seventy five minutes.
‘Superman vs. The Elite’ was an interesting and entertaining peek inside the possibility of what could happen if Superman was to go dark. I know that kind of happened in ‘Superman III’, but we’ll casually forget that one.