Reviews: Superman VS The Elite
Could have been so much more
Looking back on the original comic, this was never meant to be a fair debate between the "classical" superhero and the "modern" antihero about whether and how it is justified to kill supervillains. The writer admitted in interviews that the story was meant to strike back at darker and edgier comics of the time that would constantly berate the old heroes who would always let the bad guy live. The problem is that there are many points in the movie where there are real hints of a debate. Lois, Superman's own girlfriend, is stuck considering whether the Elite are justified in their ways. Black also rhetorically asks Superman if he had any idea what it means to live in fear, pointing out that despite being the one pushing the idea of the hero who never kills, Superman will never be put in danger by the consequences of his mistakes. And then considering that the Elite eventually targeted government officials and other such prominent figures, we missed an opportunity to bring Lex Luthor into the discussion for another voice. As things stand, the movie is successful in what it tries to do but also comes short in attempting something far more substantial. But knowing how often DC recycles storylines (HOW often have we seen the Evil Justice League plot repeated by now?), we will eventually see this debate structured properly with a far more satisfying conclusion. Until then, the conversation will continue off of the stage as it always has.
Why I Love Superheroes Defined In One Single Film
In these past few years, we've found ourselves surrounded by a lot of cynical, pessimistic works about how heroes would really act or how they should act (Anything by Garth Ennis is a prime example). We're told that we should just have protagonists that kill villains indiscriminately. That the world is harsh and unfair and they're the only source of justice in the world. Anything else is just naive and laughable. This movie takes that argument and punches it straight into the atmosphere. Superman is confronted by a team of Anti-Heroes called The Elite, who serve as expies of The Authority but could very easily be an expy of The Boys as well. He finds himself conflicted because The Elite go around and do just that, acting as pure vigilante killers as it were while at the same time seeing the people at large support them because of how fast and easy they deal with problems. Superman tries again and again to find the balance and get them to stop, until it comes to a head where Superman and The Elite must go head to head. What follows is a complete Deconstruction of The Anti-Hero. Abut how their actions is no different then a dictator, about how they are just as bad as the criminals and killers they put down and about how ultimately, the idea of Superman having the same ideals as one would be the worst thing to ever occur to Earth. I've always been a fan of Superheroes because of how idealistic and determined they were. About how much they believed in doing good in no matter what,and this movie is a firm affirmation about why we don't have to just accept the Anti-Hero. We don't have to be cynical and that we never give up in beleiving for what is right. Ever. Along with amazingly drawn animation and some of the best voice-acting I have heard, I would recommend this movie to anyone who still enjoys Superman or comics in general. Because this is a message worth hearing.
The best Superman movie
Superman vs the Elite encompasses all that I love about the Superman character. Al of the actors are great, especially George Newborn, Dee Bradley Baker, and Robin Atkin Downs, do a great job, and the script by Joe Casey is awesome. This movie rocks.
Deeply Flawed, wish I could write more
A few minutes into the movie, we encounter the antagonists proper. And in that first scene, one of them kills a dog: It was barking at her. It is then the movie announces it isn't really about the question of the DC-verse's fundamentally nonsensical no-kill rule. It is not here to present a thoughtful answer to the problem of the Joker Immunity. Superman Vs The Elite is plain old good-vs-bad, contained in a wild swing at a defenceless prop, stuffed full of straw. Nowhere in the movie does Superman answer the simple math: Killing one superpowered, homocidal monster spares a dozen innocent bystanders the next time he escapes prison - however unlawful that execution may be. So Manchester Black kills Atomic Skull instead. Superman's only answer is this: To put on a Joker Grin and a savage, televised beatdown on Black, apparently killing the rest of The Elite in front of millions of viewers. Then, when people tell him not to kill Black, he says: "They saw the ugliness of violence as a solution, and it frightened them". Even though "they" saw Black blow Atomic Skull's skull apart just the other day, and cheered. Superman considers himself a teacher, one that knows better than the great majority of the citizens about whether it's wrong or right to kill mass-murdering monsters. Incidentally, those citizens are the ones doing all the dying at the hands of said monsters in this movie. Manchester Black says it: "You don't have a clue what it means to live in fear, do you?" The worst part is it didn't have to be this way: Superman doesn't have to be uncool. He could be interesting simply by being The iconic superpowered hero, and generally supposed to be the most powerful one in his universe. Even without the Justice League, he would have immense political and social influence. As Louis says, "The world is always watching Superman." And if that was true, the abovementioned "ugliness" finally becomes relevant: When Superman's public persona becomes too important for him to get his hands dirty, when there are others who can do those jobs, and when the justice system isn't too completely insane to ignore the unreliability of Cardboard Prisons, then Superman at last has a good reason not to kill. Or something. But at least address the central question of your movie with a real argument.
Good, Could be a lot more Subtle
We see the Elite kill a dog at the beginning. Yeah they're the bad guys. We also have a jump at around the 45 minute mark from the Elite being antiheroes to being bad. While you have an interesting dilemma, essentially how far is too far, but the big issue is what I just said. We don't get a lot of time to deal with it, and so the subtlety gets thrown out the window. What do we get? Lots of Speeches. They actually aren't that bad, and to tell the truth, the final fight between Superman and Black is good. Black is horrified that Superman killed his team, and Superman states that they were killers and now they can't kill anyone else. That's Black's rationale. That's the best way to sum up the argument. When Black pleads for his life, we see exactly how this whole "cut out the disease" thing plays out. That fight scene should have been the whole movie, because that fight sums Supes's argument up better than the rest of the film. I enjoyed it, but it's far from perfect.
Not the best DC animated feature.
Well opinions on this have been mixed to say the least. While I quite liked the fluid animation and the rather fantastic action sequences, the plot itself is a tad lacking. Now I'm on the idealistic side when it comes to comic books and superheroes in general, so I'll always side with Superman when it comes to the 'no-killing' thing. Still, at times he acts very Un-Superman-ish, most notable at the end. Though, as I do hate The Authority with a blind passion, it was actually quite pleasing to see Superman knock the shit out of expies of them. My main issue is that this film tries to deal with the same issue brought up in Kingdom Come (i.e, old fashioned Silver Age heroics, vs 90's gritty Anti-heroes.) but doesn't bring it up with the same degree of grace. In Kingdom Come the issue was explored well: Give heroes free reign to kill villains and it might solve problems for a short while, but eventually things descend to anarchy where Superhumans can act as they fit, since no laws can contain them. In the end it takes the return of Superman and the Justice League to restore order. In this movie though the issue is only faintly touched upon: "The Elite are killing people. Come on guys, that's not cool." In addition, why did DC choose to adapt this into an animated feature? C'mon DC, it's not like you've run out of all time classic stories to put in animated format. What about one of the Crisis storylines? or Superman Red Son? So yeah, in conclusion give this movie a watch if you want some decent fight scenes, but do not stick around for the philosophy.