[Editor’s note: This review may contain spoilers!]
Directed By: Lauren Montgomery
Written By: Tab Murphy
Starring: Kevin Conroy, Tim Daly, Summer Glau, Andre Braugher, Susan Eisenberg, Julianne Grossman, Edward Asner, Rachel Quaintance
Original Release Date: Sept. 28, 2010
About the Film
The film was adapted from the comic books originally published in Superman/Batman #8-13, released between March and November, 2004 entitled, “The Supergirl From Krypton.” There was a hardcover and a softcover titled Superman/Batman – Volume 2: Supergirl. This title proved to be the biggest difference between the comic and the movie. In a video interview, producer Bruce Timm admitted that DVD releases with male superheroes in the title have sold better than those oriented around females, thus the title change for the film.
The film takes place after the events of Superman/Batman: Public Enemies.
A spaceship lands in Gotham City Harbor and a young girl with no knowledge of English emerges, accidentally causing all sorts of havoc with her Kryptonian-like powers. Batman, on a hunch, manages to take her down with a piece of Kryptonite from the ship, while Superman saves a downed police aircraft caught in the young girl’s reign of terror. Batman and Superman soon discover that the girl is Kara Zor-El, the niece of Jor-El, and Superman/Kal-El’s biological cousin. Although Kara’s memory as to how she got to Earth was hazy, Superman, excited to finally have a blood relative, welcomes Kara with open arms, showing her Metropolis, his Fortress of Solitude, and even revealing his secret identity as Clark Kent. Batman however remained much more suspicious, and keeps a close eye on her.
Batman, worried about Kara’s undisciplined powers, convinces Wonder Woman and a group of Amazons to ambush Clark Kent and Kara in a park, and to take Kara to Themyscira so that she can learn to control them. Batman mentions to Superman that there is another reason why she needs to be Themyscira, and to trust him. Superman reluctantly agrees.
Meanwhile, on the planet Apokolips, Darkseid learns of Kara’s presence on Earth, and orders Granny Goodness to capture her and bring her to Apokolips as a possible candidate to lead the Female Furies since the departure of Big Barda.
On Themyscira, Lyla, a Harbinger that can see everyone’s future but her own, has visions of Kara’s death, and does what she can not to tip off Kara about what she knows. While Batman and Superman visit Kara on the island, a horde of Doomsday clones appears from Apokolips, eager to kidnap Kara and return her to Darkseid. During the ensuing fight, Batman quickly realizes the Doomsday clones are a distraction, and leaves Superman, Wonder Woman and the Amazonian army to deal with the clones while he goes looking for Kara. After the battle, Superman and Wonder Woman find not only Batman towering over Lyla’s dead body, but that Kara had been taken.
Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman plan their journey to Apokolips, and recruit Barda to help them find their way as she is the only one to ever escape. Once they boom tube to Apokolips, Superman tears his way to Darkseid’s palace looking for Kara, while Batman makes his way to Darkseid’s room of Hell Spores, the source of the fire pits on Apokolips, and Wonder Woman and Barda make their way through the sewers, ending up at the fighting arena.
While Wonder Woman and Barda are ambushed by Granny Goodness and the Female Furies, Superman encounters Darkseid, who sets the brainwashed Kara on him. While Kara and Superman are fighting, Batman confronts Darkseid and informs him that he has activated the Hell Spores, all of which will destroy Apokolips. He issues Darkseid an ultimatum: he will deactivate the Hell Spores if he frees Kara and promises to leave her alone. If not, he will destroy Apokolips. Darkseid agrees to Batman’s terms just as Superman manages to defeat Kara. Barda and Wonder Woman show up and present Darkseid with a subdued Granny Goodness. Defeated, Darkseid relents and allows them to leave Apokolips.
While back on Earth, Clark decides to take Kara to meet his parents in Smallville. However, they are ambushed by Darkseid, who even though promised to leave Kara alone, has set his sights on destryoying the Man of Steel. After a lengthy battle, in which Darkseid beats Superman and Kara severely, Superman gains the upper hand and pummels Darkseid. As Darkseid grabs Superman and begins torturing him with his Omega Beam, Kara uses Darkseid’s motherbox to activate a Boom Tube, which Superman pushes Darkseid through. While Superman anticipates Darkseid’s eventual return from Apokolips, Kara informs him that she changed the coordinates to a random spot in space, leaving Darkseid floating around, frozen in ice.
Having saved her cousin’s life and found her place on Earth, Kara decides to use her powers to fight crime under the alias of Supergirl. She is met with applause by Wonder Woman, the Amazons, and finally, Batman.
This film had great action, heart, and a genuine coming of age story, and a great stand alone origin story for the Girl of Steel. You didn’t need to watch or know about Superman/Batman: Public Enemies to appreciate this film. What I really appreciated about the film was that they didn’t over sexualize Kara, as they did in the comics. Michal Turner’s art style was still used in the film, but without the over abundance of female flesh and augmented body parts, which I’m sure helped with younger viewers.
Right from the start, Superman’s and Batman’s personalities shown through, and it was quite apparent where each stood. Superman being open, perhaps naive though, welcoming his cousin without a second guess. Batman however being the cautious of the two. Essentially how you’d expect these two to act.
The action in this film was amazing. Between the battle on Themyscira, as well as on Apocalypse, there was no shortage of fists, heat vision and batarangs.
Among all the seriousness of the film, there was heart and a real coming of age story. It was about a young girl trying to find out where she fits in, and who she wants to be. And just like any young person, you will have adults to tell you where to go and what to do. In the ninety minutes or so of this film, we see Kara go from a scared foreigner, to bridging her legacy as a hero, and even taking on one of the biggest villains of the DCU. What more can you ask for in a story?
What a film without some humor. Watching Kara take Clark on an epic shopping trip was great, but also showed that deep down, Kara was just a teenage girl wanting to experience what it was like being a human. To do what the locals do so to speak. Wonder Woman and Superman popping in on Barda was great as well. Its not everyday you ask the Amazonian princess if she parked her invisible jet in the driveway. And snoopy neighbors, I’m sure we’ve all been there. In there defense though, if I saw Wonder Woman, Superman and Batman at my neighbors place, I’d be snooping too.
This film certainly didn’t have its shortage of locations. The story went from Gotham, to Metropolis, Themyscira, Apocalypse, and Smallville. It all flowed so well, and was incredibly well adapted for film.
The voice acting was really great in this film as well. Besides having seasoned voice actors such as Tim Daly, Susan Eisenberg and Kevin Conroy return to perform their respected roles, we got to see new comer Summer Glau as the voice of Kara Zor-El. I knew Summer from her work on Firefly, and knew she would do well in this role. She is such a talented actress, and she brings Kara’s innocence, vulnerability, power and curiosity in her voice.
No negatives to mention.
When I found out we would be reviewing past DC Animated films for the DCUA 10th Anniversary Collection release, I jumped at the opportunity to review Superman/Batman: Apocalypse. Supergirl will always hold a special place in my heart, and to review this film, which was absolutely outstanding, was a privilege.
If you’re new to comics, or to Supergirl, this film is a great launching point to learn more bout the Maiden of Might, and a must for any DC animated films lover.