I hate to be the one to cast a black cloud over this new DC/Warner Animation release but it just wasn't up to snuff.
I have to admit, I never read the comic it was based on. Maybe that's my problem. I'm not a fanboy waiting for someone to make a movie out of my favorite comic. I'm a middle-aged man hoping for some entertainment. Superman-Batman falls short.
The film seems overly laden with action, very little story and almost no characterization. It was great having Kevin Conroy back as Batman and Tim Daly always made a good Superman. But the casting is the only thing that harkens back to the fantastic work done on Batman: The Animated Series.
Maybe I'm expecting too much but it's only because Bruce Timm, Boyd Kirkland, Alan Burnett, et. al. set the bar so high. The first Batman feature, Mask of the Phantasm, was in many ways superior to the Tim Burton movie that spawned it. The three-part World's Finest episodes are much more layered in plot and character than this latest offering. And the Batman Beyond feature, Return of the Joker, was so good that fans demanded they release the original version instead of the watered-down "family friendly" one that was first offered in the states.
What made these movies so good and the new Superman/Batman so bad? All three of the earlier flicks broke new ground. In Mask of the Phantasm, we not only get to see Bruce become The Batman, but we're witnesses to a graveside confession as he considers giving up his vow to be with Andy. "It's not that it doesn't hurt," he says to his parents headstone. "It's just that it doesn't hurt as bad." Beautiful monologue, beautiful characterization.
In World's Finest, we get to see a relationship developing between Bruce Wayne and Lois Lane. Not only does she discover his Batman identity, but she retains that knowledge after the episode ends. It was a daring move by the producers and broke new ground.
In Return of the Joker, we find out Tim Drake was abused by the psychotic Joker and actually pulled the trigger that killed him. That flashback sequence alone was enough to make the movie a winner.
In Superman/Batman, there's nothing but a lot of punching, grunting, property destruction and the opportunity to bring out every DC second string hero and villian but no time to develop any of them. Even Luthor's motives are only hinted at and never fully explored. The ending is uninspired and anti-climatic.
Most of us who aren't hardcore comic fanatics want to see a movie that takes our childhood heroes somewhere they haven't been before. Superman/Batman fails. It's routine, mundane and I'm glad I rented it from a Redbox for a buck instead of investing $15 to $20 for it.