Written by Stan Berkowitz, Alan Burnett, Paul Dini, Rich Fogel, and Steve Gerber
Directed by Toshiko Masuda
Starring the Voices of Tim Daly, Dana Delany, Kevin Conroy, Clancy Brown, and Mark Hamill
- Interview with producer Bruce Timm
- Joker’s Challenge Game
- “How to draw” segments for Batman and Superman
- Music montage image gallery
- Cast and crew info
Rating: NR, suitable for ages 7+
Anamorphic: N/A; presented in original TV aspect ratio
My Advice: Rent it.
After the overwhelming success and positive fan reception afforded the Timm/Dini animated adaptation of Batman, the pair turned their considerable talents (as well as most of their animation team) to the other pillar of the DC Universe: the Man of Steel. Their animated adventures of Superman never really reached quite the same level of praise from fans, but was still an excellent take on Earth’s resident Kryptonian. Given the popularity of both characters, it was a natural that the creative team would eventually attempt to pair the two characters for a storyline. The result was a four-part story arc in the Superman series entitled “World’s Finest,” in homage to the original series of the 60s and the resurgent limited run in the 90s, that paired the duo with their most infamous villains, Joker and Lex Luthor.
[ad#longpost]The story arc has now been repackaged as a feature-length piece entitled The Batman/Superman Movie. Beginning with Joker’s acquisition of a priceless Asian artifact (that just happens to be sculpted entirely of kryptonite), the story follows Joker’s offer to rid Lex of Superman for a tidy sum of money. Batman, always on the lookout for Joker’s schemes, follows the clown to Metropolis in the guise of Bruce Wayne. While tracking the Joker’s machinations at night, Wayne meets with business partner Luthor to put an end to Lex’s ambition to use their joint project for defense purposes. Before long, Superman and Batman cross paths, hash out their different approaches, and join forces to combat Joker’s assassination scheme and Lex’s corporate manipulations of Wayne Enterprises projects. And as a side note, Lois becomes a bit enamored of Gotham’s most infamous playboy, much to the chagrin of Clark Kent.
The story is solid stuff, and despite having originally appeared as individual episodes, this compiled version runs fairly seamlessly. The characterizations of all the major players are well done, though I found Lois’s starry-eyed infatuation with Wayne a bit uncharacteristic given her portrayal throughout the Superman series. The tension between the methods of Batman and Superman is played up very nicely, without being over-done, and likewise the complimentary nature of the villains (Lex’s cold scheming versus Joker’s psychopathic violence) is handled well. The animation is precisely the quality fans have come to expect from the Timm/Dini crew, and the voice work is also excellent. Kevin Conroy will forever be the voice in my head when I read Batman comics, and Dana Delany is a great Lois Lane. Tim Daly should have been allowed to continue his role as Superman in the new Justice League series, as his voice-work is superior (IMHO) to the new actor.
The only real weakness of the disc is the DVD extras. While the conversation with Timm is interesting, it has a nasty side-effect of spelling out entirely too much of the movie’s plot for my liking. And that’s the only extra of any real merit. “Joker’s Challenge” only qualifies as a game in the loosest sense of the word, and is really only a “challenge” if you happen to have the IQ of the cheesy cardboard DVD case. The “Get the Picture” how-to drawing lessons are little more than one of the staff animators sketching out a character, run at an incredibly high speed. An actual attempt to proceed slowly enough for fans and amateurs to follow along would have been interesting. And somebody please consider including some kind of snippets or interviews with the voice cast, for the love of Pete. These people are, in many instances, big-name talent, with careers in the flesh-and-blood film industry, so what makes them keen on doing voice-work? For example, tell us when Luke Skywalker decided he wanted to be the Clown Prince of Crime?
So unless you’re a collector of either all things DC or all things Timm/Dini, this one probably merits a rental, but if you are a die-hard fan of either animated series or just of the characters in general, it’s worth owning.