Not long ago, a teaser trailer came out for DC’s new Batman vs. Superman movie. Ever since the title was announced, I have been nervous about the upcoming movie. I have a lot of feelings about Superman and Batman (both together and separately) and I have been waiting a long time for a team up movie to hit the big screen. But when I heard the title of the movie, I was extremely sad. I’m not going to see a Batman and Superman movie based purely on them fighting each other (we all know Superman wins that fight anyway).
No, what I really want to see in this new movie is the complex, somewhat antagonistic relationship between Batman and Superman, which eventually morphs into an epic friendship. So today for our Throwback, I want to take a look at the Batman and Superman movie that greatly shaped my perception of the two characters. The World’s Finest originally aired as as a three part episode on the Superman Animated Series in 1997, and was later re-released as a movie. Until this point there had been little to no cross-over between the Superman Animated Series and the Batman Animated Series, other than a one off comment about Batman at the start of the Superman Animated Series. So this movie was the first meeting between Batman and Superman in the animated universe. And the movie just really hit it out of the park.
Our movie begins with the Joker stealing a jade dragon statue, but when Batman investigates the theft, he discovers the statue is actually made out of kryptonite. In Metropolis, the Joker manages to abduct Lex Luthor, shows him the kryptonite statue, and offers to kill Superman if Lex pays him a million dollars—all with the guarantee that Superman’s death cannot be traced back to Luthor. Lex agrees and begins his tenuous partnership with the clown. Meanwhile, Bruce Wayne arrives in Metropolis “on business” and immediately begins to seduce Lois Lane, partly because he likes her and partly because he wants to learn about Superman. Eventually the Joker makes his presence known by attacking a mob boss in Metropolis, putting the boss in the hospital and stealing his men and hideout. Superman and Batman go to investigate what the Joker is up to and end up crossing paths. Their initial encounter doesn’t go well and is pretty antagonistic. Superman quickly learns who Batman is by using his x-ray vision, but Batman bugs Superman’s cape, following him back to his apartment to learn that he’s Clark Kent. The two eventually team up when the Joker kidnaps Lois Lane to lure out Superman, and they further join forces when the Joker and Lex’s partnerships goes south and the Joker tries to destroy all of Metropolis in revenge.
The main thing I love about this movie is how the characters interact with each other. Though the movie doesn’t end with Superman and Batman being friends, we do get to see their relationship move from an antagonistic one to one of respect, and even the beginnings of a friendship. Furthermore, the two characters are hilarious together. To those not familiar with Batman and Superman team-ups, you might not expect that the two characters together would equal comedy gold, but they really are great together. The sarcastic comments and large levels of sass that the two throw at each other are awesome. Superman and Batman aren’t the only ones who play off of each other well. The scenes between Lex and the Joker, and Harley Quinn and Mercy, are interesting and often hilarious, especially when all of these egos collide with each other.
While the movie is highly entertaining and exciting, I’m sad to say that it’s not exactly feminist. It certainly has more female characters than most superhero movies (including the live action ones) featuring Lois Lane, Harley Quinn, and Mercy (Lex’s right hand woman and bodyguard). But Harley and Mercy, while enjoyable in the movie, are still really just the sidekicks to their male counterparts and Lois serves her usual role as love interest and damsel in distress. That being said, the love triangle between Lois, Bruce, and Clark isn’t as awful as it could be. I enjoy the fact that despite Lois’s feelings for Superman, she didn’t wait around for him, but does pursue a relationship with Bruce. The most cringe-worthy part of the love triangle is actually the guys. There is definitely a “stay away from my girl” moment between Clark and Bruce despite the fact that Lois isn’t with either of them, at least not seriously. For the most part all three female characters are dynamic, interesting, and capable, but not featured enough to really show their full potential.
While there is little hope for this part of World’s Finest, I do wish the new Batman and Superman live action movie would take some of its cues for this animated feature, and up the female representation. Having some more humor or general witty banter in a DC Comics movie would be nice for once. I just really hope DC realizes that just because Green Lantern didn’t do well doesn’t mean they should abandon humor altogether. Green Lantern did not fail because of the humor. It failed cause of a bad script. Furthermore, it would be nice if DC remained true to their characters the way this animated film does. Man of Steel already made Superman darker and angstier than he normally is, and if I have to watch Superman and Batman try to out angst each other for two and a half hours, I’m gonna be pissed. Characters can have drama and problems without all turning into Batman. It’s allowed. World’s Finest shows that Superman and Batman are at their best when you stay true to their characters and let them play off of each other. Overall, I would highly recommend World’s Finest for those who are excited for the upcoming movie, who aren’t excited for the upcoming movie, and those who maybe just want to see Batman and Superman team up for the first time. So… for everyone? Yeah, everyone. Seriously, everyone go watch this movie.