Thursday, June 14, 2012

Superman vs The Elite - Review

Black is the new red, yellow, and blue

A new breed of hero has arrived on Earth. They don’t let the scum and villainy go unpunished. There are the good guys, and the bad guys. And if you’re a bad guy, you’re surely going to die. The age of Superman and his Boy Scout attitude are over. This is the age of The Elite.

The Elite - Menagerie, Coldcast, Manchester Black, The Hat

This film is based on Action Comics #775, “What’s so funny about truth, justice, and the American way?” The issue was written by Joe Kelly and was an oversized edition in which Superman fought the new wave of heroes that didn’t wear costumes, loved to be brash, and enjoyed killing. Many of these types of heroes were taking over the mainstream in comics and movies, and Superman seemed like a thing of the past.

What this issue did, as well as the new animated feature that’s based on it, is prove that someone with the power of Superman needs to be guided by morals in order to co-exist with humanity. The Elite represent the “cool kids” that you’d side with at first. After all, who wouldn’t want to punish the worst war crimes of the Earth with suitable deaths for those that are guilty? But it’s not a hero’s place to act as judge, jury, and executioner.

The animated adaptation is just as fun as the comic, and is actually a bit more developed in terms of story and characters. We get the back history of Manchester Black, the punk rock British leader of The Elite who has a powerful case of telekinesis and telepathy. Black’s new backstory and his initial idolization of Superman make Black a more sympathetic character, it also makes his darker turn even more satisfying. We also get a side story about Atomic Skull.

Atomic Skull
The voice acting by George Newbern (Superman) and Robin Atkin Downes (Manchester Black) are superb. The banter between the two of them is fast paced, full of philosophy, and never gets old. I’d even go ahead and give it to Downes that he kind of stole the show. His personality that he brought to the role was so full of vigor that Black feels like more of a DC Comics staple than he really is. Newbern wasn’t phoning it in either. His Superman and Clark Kent were iconic and as soon as he spoke I nodded and said to myself, “that’s Superman.”

The animation style looks a bit fun and whimsical, but you soon realize that this is a movie where people's heads are twisted backwards and monsters are ripped half. It has some great emotional moments and incredible fight scenes. Superman really isn’t fun unless he’s getting the snot beat out of him, and this is one of those moments. It’s also really satisfying to see The Man of Steel snap and start doing things just like The Elite.

Superman loses it.

I’ve been a huge fan of the DC Universe animated films. Each one I’ve seen portrays the characters in a very different way while staying true to the source material. Truth be told, I get more excited about these than I do the live-action movies. Marvel may have the overall market when it comes to the movie theaters, but DC knocks animation out of the park.

RATING: 9/10

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