Superman Batman: Apocalypse pits World’s Finest against Darkseid
Superman Batman: Apocalypse is the weakest of the good DC Comics Universe direct to video movies.
There’s enough action so it’s never boring and hearing Kevin Conroy and Tim Daly voicing Batman and Superman is always a pleasure, but the story lacks that spark to make the film essential viewing.
A Kryptonian spaceship crashes into Gotham, prompting Batman (Conroy) to learn what’s landing in his home turf. He finds Kara Zor El (Summer Glau, Serenity), who claims she’s the cousin of Superman (Daly).
Ecstatic to find a living relative, Superman is happy to have a living relative and is quick to familiarize Kara with Earth customs including a particularly grating outfit-changing montage.
Batman is much more suspicious and leery of Kara’s unrefined control of her powers.
With the aid of Wonder Woman (Susan Eisenberg, Justice League: Doom), sends her to Themyscira to train with the Amazons. That sets off a chain of events including an army of Doomsday clones, a team up with Big Barda and traveling to Apokolips to battle Darkseid (Andre Braugher), Granny Goodness (Edward Asner) and her Female Furies.
To date, this is the only Warner Bros. Animation film that maintains the continuity from a previous film. It follows the very enjoyable 2009 Superman Batman: Public Enemies. Like Public Enemies, this is based off a story by Jeph Loeb and artist Michael Turner.
Supergirl had been a prominent cast member in previous DC Animated specifically Superman: The Animated Series and the excellent Justice League Unlimited.
Tab Murphy’s (Batman: Year One) screenplay is unremarkable, but he doesn’t have the best story to adapt. Animated Supergirl has rarely been portrayed as more than Superman-lite. For kicks, she also gets the tired teen cliché of trying to determine her own path. Murphy offers nothing fresh on the character to make her interesting. Annoyingly, Warner Bros. Animation revisited this exact take on Supergirl earlier in the year with Superman: Unbound.
Warner Animated has an inconsistent policy as to when the animation will match the comic artwork. Sensibly here, they approximate Turner’s style, which is translated well.
Led by Conroy, Daly and Eisenberg, the voice acting is mostly superb with Glau proving a welcome addition. Braugher however isn’t a good fit for Darkseid. That’s in part due to Michael Ironside perfectly handled the character in Superman: TAS and JLU. Braugher also doesn’t make Darkseid nearly as menacing as needed.
The film’s flaws are redeemed by Director Lauren Montgomery (Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths). Montgomery makes the fight scenes the kind of major clash of titans she’s excelled at since joining the Warner Bros. Animated team with the Legion of Super Heroes TV show in 2006.
It’s ironic the saving grace of this film is the far less thought-provoking fight scenes. But the blockbuster-sized battles make this worth checking out.
As a bonus, a 12-minute DC Showcase: Green Arrow is included. It was more exciting than anything in the main feature. Hopefully Neal McDonough can voice Green Arrow again on future projects as he was a great fit.
Rating: 6 out of 10
Buy it here: Superman/Batman: Apocalypse [Blu-ray]