Superman/Batman: Apocalypse (2010)

For what it’s worth Lauren Montgomery really does manage to compose some magnificent fight sequences, one of which involve Big Barda and Wonder Woman on Apokalips fighting his female warriors. While the finale is meant to be nothing more than a throwdown between strong women, it’s definitely a nice touch to a lackluster film that is often exciting and memorable to watch, especially with the sleek animation style. Summer Glau is always good, and as Supergirl she provides her trademark meek voice that’s undermined by a strong sense of independence and wonder that keeps her as a strong portrayer of the Supergirl character.

Daly and Conroy are fantastic as Superman and Batman, striving in the roles they managed to perfect all of those years, and Andre Braugher is entertaining as Darkseid. Andrea Romano is not known for choosing poorly when it comes to the character for DC features, and she shines yet again. I really truly wanted to love “Superman/ Batman: Apocalypse” in the end, mainly because I really enjoyed the first film when it was released and through it to be a great superhero thriller. This sequel is mainly aimed for the girls in the audience and that is made apparent by the fact that Supergirl is the primary character, she is deemed to be more powerful than Superman (that idea truly angers me), and Superman and Batman mainly just play bickering parents who either fawn over Supergirl and try to figure out what to do with her.

Batman thinks she can be a horrible weapon and that she must be kept under control, Superman thinks she deserves to be given the benefit of the doubt and can be used for good, Batman doesn’t want her to have a cell phone since she didn’t do her homework, Superman wants her to have one since she did her chores. Okay, those last two sentences were false, but that’s mainly what it feels like whenever Superman and Batman are bickering over Supergirl, the gorgeous and often innocent young stalwart from Krypton who is mainly deemed as the new era of deity for Earth’s safety. Superman and Batman are just supporting characters this time around, tasked with imparting wisdom on young Kara who takes to Earth life instantly. Superman teaches her about junk food, Superman teaches her about fashion, Superman shops with her!

Meanwhile, I’m sitting down wondering when we’ll get a story that isn’t revolving around pandering to the youth and emasculating Superman for the sake of allowing Supergirl a spotlight. As if that isn’t enough, Darkseid is looking for a new army of female warriors to help in his dominance and he hasn’t found that right leader. Conveniently Supergirl landed on Earth, and he wants her! But then Wonder Woman comes along thanks to the request of Batman who is brought on board to capture Kara and teach her the ways of the Amazon. But she’s a Kryptonian. What do these exercises involving swords and armor have use for with a person who can shake the Earth with her finger nails? Nothing, but it gives an excuse for Kara for become a warrior to take on Darkseid and his female warrior army as Wonder Woman acts as a mother figure constantly bickering with Superdad and Mean Uncle Batman.

Kara is of course a Skywalker like figure who has great power but still isn’t sure how to use it, all the while Darkseid and his female cronies have come in to our world to capture the young super heroine and use her for his misdeeds. The balance of the characters is often uneven and sloppy to where Superman’s wisdom is depicted as naiveté with a sense of child-like ignorance even when he’s scolding Krypto who barks at Kara’s presence, while Batman’s own caution is annoying and rather irritating, serving a purpose to merely question Kara’ super heroism we know she’ll more than likely prove in the finale in Darkseid’s world. And as always Superman is scaled down in powers to offer a chance for Batman and Supergirl to shine, while Wonder Woman doesn’t do much except for wax poetic to Kara and guide her in to her personal quest we’re supposed to empathize with under eighty minutes but can never manage to, no matter how hard they try to bring us in to these characters shoes.

Kara, as always, is utterly uninteresting a character, a pale representation of merely balancing the scales of women’s lib offering a female equivalent to Superman for the sake of pandering to the female audience and doing nothing to convince us that she is even the slightest bit interesting or complex. We’re even asked to buy that she can rig and hijack Batman’s Bat boat in the opening sense which make zero sense when in the context of the story. Her characterization is rushed and clunky with the writers tasked with introducing her, establishing, testing her, putting her in jeopardy and establishing her as a hero all within the window of eighty minute. Not even Summer Glau’s passionate performance can save what is an absolutely vapid and boring character. “Apocalypse” really wants to be an epic but it’s impossible to establish so many characters in such a small time frame and it shows in spades with what is a considerably clunky and tedious little sequel.

And the finale that sets down in Smallville is probably one of the most absurd and clunkiest closers I’ve ever seen in an animated movie. So Darkseid boomed down and waited in Clark’s house until he and Kara got to the door? Was he reading magazines and watching TV until they arrived and just stood there preparing his monologue? Yeah, thanks, DC. I wanted to love “Apocalypse” as I’ve loved most of DC Comics animated features, but the entire film is nothing more than a series of action scenes used to undermine the male fan base and title characters Batman and Superman to shove the vapid Supergirl down our throats and convince us she is this interesting almost messianic character all at the cost of solid writing, entertainment value, and the dripping mythology DC animated features usually possess.