DC Comics has made an outstanding effort in releasing numerous animated films based on their intellectual properties. They’ve had their hits and misses, but for the most part they’ve managed to put forth some really good superhero movies. This time they’ve decided to do a buddy flick with their two most popular superheroes, Batman and Superman. Based on the six issue mini-series of the same name, Superman/Batman: Public Enemies is a look at how two superheroes with different takes on life tackle the same problem.
You couldn’t find two better characters at the opposite end of the superhero spectrum than Batman and Superman. One is a wealthy human raised by his family butler who has a bleak outlook on criminals. The other a powerful Kryptonian, raised by loving adoptive parents in a modest setting. One had all the money you could hope for while the other learned of a hard days wage. It’s their upbringing that shaped who’d they become, and the type of hero they’d be. It’s always interesting seeing how they approach the same challenges, with each of their experiences shaping their decision making process. This is what always makes it interesting when the duo get together.
The movie starts with a montage of Lex Luthors campaign for President of the United States. After a surprise victory, Luthor announces that he’s drafted superheroes into working for the U.S. government. All of this is a bit reminiscent of Marvel’s Civil War, but keep in mind that the Public Enemies mini-series came out well before Marvel’s cross over event. After finding out that a huge meteor made out of Kryptonite is headed towards Earth, Luthor forms his own plan to destroy it and take all the credit.
Not one to risk his own neck, Luthor goes on national t.v. and tells the country that he would like to offer a hand in friendship to Superman and have him save the Earth. This places Superman in a precarious situation, one that damns him if he does and damns him if he doesn’t. With his super-powered task force at his call and beckon, including Captain Atom, Major Force, Black Lightning, Power Girl, and Starfire, Luthor tries to brand Superman as public enemy. Knowing that Superman will never go along with his plan, he proclaims Superman an outlaw and places a one billion dollar bounty on his head.
Batman has been kept aware of the situation and decides to lend a hand to the Last Son of Krypton, his alliance with Superman places a bounty on himself as well. With almost every super villain hunting for their scalps, Batman and Superman need to find a way to stop the incoming meteor while clearing their names. And this is where the problem lies, for an hour and fifteen minute film an awful lot of it was setting up the event with very little committed to the pay off. It felt rushed towards the end, and could have easily used another 10 to 15 minutes to deal with the ending.
The animation was very fluid and looked even better than the Superman/Batman animated t.v. series. But to be honest Batman looked a lot better than Superman, everything from his costume to his action scenes just seemed to flow better. The voice acting was top notch with Tim Daly and Kevin Conroy reprising their roles as Superman and Batman. We were also treated to Clancy Brown returning as Lex Luthor with C.C.H. Pounder back as Amanda Waller. Other cast members include Smallville’s Allison Mack as Power Girl, John C. McGinley as Metallo, and LaVar Burton as Black Lightning.
Overall, you can tell that a lot of effort and work was put into this buddy flick, but in the end it just didn’t feel like it lived up to its potential. It was nice setting up the events, but the manner in which it was rushed at the end felt like they were trying to stay within a certain time limit and got caught. Still, it’s not like it’s a terrible movie. It’s just something I’d recommend renting and not purchasing.