While DC continually crafts animated films that make Hollywood features look like garbage, I can’t say that I’m always a fan of them. What attracted me to their animated releases in the first place was the slightly adult take on the characters, and there’s the biggest problem with Superman. How do you make a hero commonly referred to as a boy scout, a hardcore badass? Batman, that’s easy. You can’t get a much darker hero, but Superman, that’s another story. Apparently, that story is Superman vs. The Elite.
Superman fans will already know that there’s no changing the man of steel. He’s a good guy, through and through, and if Batman won’t kill his villains, there’s no way Superman will. This film at least gives us a glimpse of what an out of control Superman looks like.
The story for this one follows a new group of heroes calling themselves The Elite. They’re powerful, even challenging the power of Superman, and they’re more than a little cocky. Superman isn’t completely convinced that he should trust them, and he soon realizes that The Elite would rather permanently remove the villain than to jail them so they can break out later. This instantly puts them at odds with Superman, leading the group to a final confrontation. It’s during this fight that Superman realizes The Elite may be right as he unleashes his full power, determined to stop The Elite by using their own methods.
Every single time I see Superman, I wish that he’d just go insane and start blowing everything in sight up. This film grants that wish, and in a huge way. I know that a crazy Superman can’t possibly be real, or something that lasts very long, but watching him kill members of The Elite at the end of the movie is incredible. This is the darkest I’ve ever seen the man of steel, and there’s a certain sick pleasure in the entire affair. Maybe part of the fun is the fact that we know Superman has a plan, and couldn’t possibly be killing anybody. Maybe it’s some sort of desire to watch someone so good become so bad. Whatever it is, DC outdoes themselves with the final battle in Superman vs. The Elite. It’s dark and explosive, and even when we finally realize what’s going on, it still seems to go beyond the lines that Superman normally draws.
The film achieves more than just a bloody battle with an enraged Superman. The story poses some interesting questions, and you could easily place the debate on the death penalty over the proceedings. The Elite believe that killing the bad guys is a more effective way than just putting them in jail, where they are eventually released. The public tends to agree, causing Superman to wonder if his way of preserving peace will work any more. Is it really better to eliminate the evil before it can strike again? It’s an idea that is handled over and over in Batman comics, as well as the famous story in Superman that this film is based on, but just because we’ve heard it all before doesn’t make it any less interesting this time around.
For delivering the Superman I’ve been waiting to see, as well as a story that encourages thought instead of waiting for our brains to shut down, Superman vs. The Elite easily rises to the top of my favorite DC animated films.
Under the marquee – Will