My favorite thing about Superman VS The Elite was by far the animation. Unlike the more “realistic” style of other movies, it goes for a straight cartoon style, with thick lines and rounded edges. It’s superb looking and fits this little fable about the nature of Superman and heroism quite well.
The plot of the film is fairly simply, based on “What’s so funny about Truth, Justice, and The American Way?” a storyline meant to examine the role of Superman in an era that seems to reject his sort of white light heroics. As “The Elite,” a team of four, Manchester Black, Menagerie, The Hat and Coldcast, rise to popularity with their “let the punishment fit the crime” all out destructive crime fighting, Superman grows ever more despondent that he’s irrelevant. In the end they all fight, and Superman wins but does so by showing them mercy.
It’s a quick little story and a fun one. I mentioned how much I loved the animation style, and I love the idea that Manchester Black the punk rock leader of The Elite is the physical embodiment of the comics British Invasion. I’m a fan of all those writers, but there’s an element of the absurd to their way of doing things, the “deconstruction” of superheroes can be take all of the sheen off the concept and render them useless, except that such stories and inspiration aren’t useless, as Superman points out.
The different members of The Elite are everything that’s sort of odd about alternative comics (they’re actually meant to directly parody The Authority.) Menagerie is grotesque and sexually aggressive, Coldcast kills without thought, and The Hat care less than anyone could possibly think.
George Newbern is back as Supes. Newbern took over for Tim Daly in the Justice League, so he knows the character pretty well. I’m also a big fan of Pauley Perrette’s Lois here and the way she functions in the story. (Lois and Clark are married here, so she’s a partner more than a rival or obstacle, it’s a cool way to show their relationship.) Robin Atkins Downes is Manchester Black, and he does a good job I’m just not crazy about the character, although I love what he represents and of course when Superman asks him what it feels like to be deconstructed, it’s pretty great.
Overall I really enjoyed watching it, like I said, I’m a big fan of the animation and action here, even if the story isn’t everything that I hoped it would be.
Up next is The Dark Knight Returns: Part 1 which is always a good deal of fun.