Mania Review: Superman Vs The Elite -

Mania Review: Superman Vs The Elite

Mania Grade: B-

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  • Rated: PG-13
  • Written By: Joe Kelly
  • Directed By: Michael Chang
  • Cast: Geroge Newbern, Pauley Perrette, Robin Atkin Downes
  • Distributor: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment
  • Original Year of Release: 2012
  • Extras: See Below
  • Series:

Mania Review: Superman Vs The Elite

Action Comics #775 adapted!

By Tim Janson     June 15, 2012

Superman Vs. The Elite is based upon the story "What's So Funny About Truth, Justice & the American Way?” published in issue #775 of Action comics. Joe Kelly, who wrote that issue of Action Comics, also serves as writer for 14th DC Comics animated film. The film begins with a very cool retro 70’s style opening credit sequence featuring a cheesy but wonderful musical score.

Superman has to spring into action when the Atomic Skull goes on a rampage through Metropolis, turning citizens to ash. Superman finally defeats the villain but it begins to stir a debate in the public about whether super villains should be executed for their crimes. Shortly after, a new team of superheroes arrives on the scene, led by the charismatic Brit, Manchester Black. While initially greeted by Superman as friends and allies, Superman soon takes exception to the group’s harsh tactics as they have no qualms against killing.

The public soon begins to side with the new group, especially after the Atomic Skull escapes prison and murders a well known professor right in front of his son. This leads to the media turning against Superman and supporting the new group which names itself “The Elite”. The action comes to a head as the group decides to take sides in a war between two Eastern European nations. Superman must somehow stop the sadistic group without resorting to their murderous ways.

I’m not sure this story would have been in my…top 100 of DC comics stories to be adapted into an animated film. There are MUCH better stories out there both in terms of action and theme. I get the sense that DC wanted this message out there no matter how heavy-handed it might be. The film hits on many flashpoint ideas such as violence in the world, the debate over capital punishment, powerful nations interfering in the affairs of weaker nations, etc…Superman becomes the lightning rod for all of this.

That said it is an extremely well done adaptation. The suggestion that Superman’s ideologies might be outdated is certainly worth exploring but I wonder if it isn’t about 20 years too late. The edgy, gritty heroes like Wolverine, The Punisher, Azrael, Lobo…all hit that peak of popularity in the 1990s when being an anti-hero was all the rage.

While normally DC has gone with a high profile cast of actors for their animated features, here they go for talented actors who are not household names. George Newbern return to the role of Superman which he voiced during the Justice League and Justice League Unlimited series. Robin Atkin Downes, a veteran of many animated series, voices Manchester Black with sinister arrogance. Pauley Perrette, best known for playing Abby Sciuto on the TV series NCIS, voices Lois Lane.

While the voice cast was superb, the animation unfortunately is one of the weakest seen yet. The cartoony look of the animation looks like it came straight out of a budget animation studio of the 1980s. The poor animation is a major distraction and hopefully it’s just an aberration.

Blu-Ray Extras

Audio Commentary with Joe Kelly

The Elite Unbound (14:30) – Mainly an interview with Joe Kelly as he discusses the genesis of the original story and the adaptation to film.

Superman and the Moral Debate (17:24) – Comic professionals as well as professor and sociologists look at Superman’s morality and its real world influences

Action Comics # 775 Digital Comics – Read the original story on which the film was based

Sneak Peek Batman The Dark Knight Returns part #1 (12:36) – I am almost tempted to say that this sneak peek is worth the price of the blu-ray alone. Get a sneak peek at the next DC animated project, an adaptation of Frank Miller’s landmark Batman story of the 1980s. Robocop actor Peter Weller will portray Batman/Bruce Wayne.


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vitieddie 6/15/2012 12:52:30 AM

I think WB is starting to cut corners.

lazarus 6/15/2012 6:43:23 AM

Are you serious? B-? I was more thinking D to D-. Story was okay, animation was worse. Weak effort DC.

MrJawbreakingEquilibrium 6/15/2012 7:54:03 AM

How long is this one? Ha, ha. I don't know if I plan on seeing this. The last Superman one was boring and I find Superman as a character kind of dumb anyway. At least by himself. Hell - I like Superboy in Young Justice better. Though I do like the Superman: Earth One books. The first trade was awesome and I'm eagerly awaiting the second. Guess it's all in who writes him.

redvector 6/15/2012 8:56:43 AM

I think that they went with a retro 80's/90's animation style for this particular story. If that's the case it did just didn't work for the serious nature of the story.  Of late DC's animation efforts have been inconsistant. They'll have a good one then and a so-so one. With this one being the latter mostly due to the animation. The way  Superman's chin is drawn is just too distracting whoever approved that is a moron.

tiredjay 6/15/2012 9:43:40 AM

Actually, the animation on this was some of the best they've done in the recent animated DC titles,  and they've finally been able to intergrate CG better, but it's just that the art style was off putting.  The worst animation so far has been Public Enemies, where the characters are off-model more than they're on, and it's mostly sloppy Saturday morning stuff.

lazarus 6/15/2012 9:50:53 AM

 Not to mention the anatomy disproportion is getting out of hand again, his chest measures like 80 inches around? Seriously? I personally like some of the Public Enemies and the latest one Doom. The style makes the characters much more realistic and not so...out there. I mean who is going to believe some guy with the build of Mr. Universe is simply a mild mannered reporter? With self esteem issues?

Clark Kent is supposed to BLEND, not stand out. With this physique he stands out, glasses or no. 

Would have like to see a gritter, darker, more adult animation style in this. Come on DC, TAKE A FREAKING RISK!!! You are willing to make GL gay but you won't risk putting an animated PG-13 film out? Come on. Man up.

Tevii 6/15/2012 10:36:14 AM

@lazarus - it is pg-13

Tevii 6/15/2012 10:41:18 AM

Hm. comments didnt post. Try agian .... Not sure about some of these comments. This was a great DC animated movie.

This was the FIRST DC animated movie I wasnt excited about. I thought it looked STUPID. I bought it just to keep my collection complete, and support them to keep them coming.

After watching it, it quickly became my 3rd favorite DC animated movie. 1) Red Hood 2) Wonder Woman.

This movie is excellent. Its fast paced, the animation is crisp and clean. And it has a great moral message. (NO, I dont care if movies have them, but when they do have them naturally and not forced, it can be cool. This os one of those times)

This also shows us why Superman is the Greatest always has been always will be. (but he is not my favorite, just the greatest)

Also, people, animation and character design is entirely DIFFERENT. The animation in this movie is very well done. Its the character designs that do suck.

Tevii 6/15/2012 10:57:54 AM

@lazarus - BTW these are ALL PG-13
Justice League Doom – PG-13
Batman Year One – PG-13
Justice League Crisis on 2 Earths – PG-13
Batman: Under The Red Hood –PG-13
Superman/Batman: Apocalypse – PG-13
Green Lantern: First Flight – PG-13
Superman/Batman: Public Enemies – PG-13
Wonder Woman – PG-13
Justice League: New Frontier – PG-13

lazarus 6/15/2012 12:39:00 PM

OKay then R rated then, I mean throw some cussing in there, tailor it more towards being adult oriented.

Do you get the message I am trying to point out? Atomic Skull is killed and it is as simple as breaknig a candy dish he calls a head? Really? No blood? Brains? Just would like something more adult/graphic intensive.

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