Review: Superman/Batman: Apocalypse

Two things to keep in mind about “Superman/Batman: Apocalypse”:

  1. Yes, it is a sequel to “Superman/Batman: Public Enemies,” but aside from a single line by an unnamed extra, there is no real connective tissue between these two films. If you ignored that one line, this movie could be watched on its own.
  2. It’s not really a movie about Superman and Batman directly teaming up. They work together as part of a team, but the movie is not really about them doing stuff together – or about Wonder Woman, who does her fair share of fighting and bickering alongside the men.

No, the movie is really about Supergirl and her relationship with the DC trinity – especially Superman – even as she tries to find a place for herself in a new alien world. And as the title might have tipped you off, DC’s most legendary heroes are going up against their enemies from the hellish planet Apokalips, led by the cruel Darkseid. Don’t worry – all three of them, plus Big Barda, get their chance to shine in combat.

A massive chunk of Kryptonite lands in the water near Gotham City, and turns out to have a pod with a naked girl inside. She soon exhibits powers similar to Superman’s, which she isn’t very good at controlling, causing quite a bit of mayhem until Batman subdues her. Superman quickly discerns that she is his cousin Kara, but Batman is suspicious of her – especially since Kara’s control of her strength and heat vision is still not particularly good even after weeks of learning.

So he enlists Wonder Woman to take Kara to Themyscira, where she can be trained away from ordinary humans. But there’s another reason for this change: a minor superhero known as Harbinger has been having visions that seem to bode ill for Kara.

Well, to put it simply, the visions come true – Themyscira is invaded by cloned enemies from Apokalips, and Kara is kidnapped by Granny Goodness and Darkseid. Obviously Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman are going to Apokalips to get her back, and they have to enlist the reluctant Big Barda to help them get there. But getting to Apokalips is the easy part – the hard part is getting Kara, and getting back alive.

I must admit, I was slightly disappointed that a movie titled “Superman/Batman: Apocalypse” didn’t feature much of Superman and Batman teaming up – they work together, but it’s mostly in independent ways. In fact, there’s some friction between Superman and both Wonder Woman and Batman, since he’s annoyed by Batman’s suspicious nature and Wonder Woman dragging his cousin into combat training on Themyscira rather than letting her have a normal life.

What the movie is really about is Kara seeking a place for herself in this new world of hers. It threads through the entire movie, right to its end, including her stint in Apokalips. Flaws? Well, it feels like the movie avoids the longer-term psychological effects of Kara being brainwashed and forced to do terrible things. She just kind of snaps out of it, like a binary good/bad switch has been flipped.

But don’t worry, the main trio get plenty of screentime – all three kick considerable amounts of butt, from an army of Doomsday clones to Granny Goodness’s female Furies. Batman seems a little too tough for a mere ordinary human (he survives being eaten by a giant dog), but otherwise the fight scenes are gritty, expansive and full of nightmarish scenery to get smashed through.

It also highlights their different personalities and ways of approaching problems: Batman is suspicious and protective of those close to him, Superman is idealistic and overprotective of his cousin, and Wonder Woman is practical and caring in a no-nonsense way. And Big Barda rounds out this little cast, a strong but scarred woman who cherishes the “boring” life she has, because she has lived in the hellscape of Apokalips.

“Superman/Batman: Apocalypse” has a slightly deceptive title, but is a solid, fast-driving movie that shows this superhero trinity at their best. If you want a DC animated movie, this is an enjoyable way to spend an afternoon.

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