DC’s animated movie series releases another impressive entry in Superman/Batman: Apocalypse. The movie delivers on a number of points I thought were missing in previous Justice League movies of late, namely the voice cast. In particular I was pleased to hear the return of the eponymous duo’s best incarnations: Kevin Conroy as Batman and Tim Daly as Superman. These two perfected their roles in Batman/Superman: The Animated Series individually, during the “Diniverse” era. The replacement of Conroy in particular constantly baffles me. Even the decidedly not-so-good Batman: Gotham Knights got that much right. Others include Michael Ironside as Darkseid, reprising the role, and a favorite of mine, Ed Asner’s spot on Granny Goodness. I could never get tired of hearing him voice her.
The plot also introduces a number of my old favorites. My never ending crush on the Giffen era Justice League loves to see characters like Mr. Miracle and Big Barda brought back into the fold (see also Batman: the Brave and the Bold for your Ted Kord Blue Beetle and Booster Gold fixes). The fantastically campy Fighting Female Furies turn up as the main plot device for the film, as Darkseid looks for a replacement to captain them after Granny’s most hopeful student proves not up to the task.
Where he turns for that is a reinvented, once again, Supergirl. Her crash to Earth, her misunderstood reception (a comic book classic trope) and her subsequent shipping off for training are all handled quite admirably. I enjoyed the film up to this point, when it introduced its sole sticking point for me: Doomsday. And not just Doomsday but dozens of Doomsdays, all some kind of clone. One of them beat Superman into a coma; now Batman can take out its clones with whatever is in his utility belt? I think this devalues the threat just a smidge. The only reason that it didn’t affect the film that much for me is that I think Doomsday is the hallmark of just how bad 1990s comics were in terms of desperate attention grabs, the Death of Superman sparking a host of “controversial” and increasingly ridiculous stories involving the fall of the DC heroes. Aquaman got his hand eaten by piranha for God’s sakes. It was a bad time to be a fan, so you can clog a toilet with Doomsdays for all I care.
90s rant aside, this leads to one of the greatest “haunted house” rides DC has to offer: a trip to Apokolips. This is portrayed as the most frightening, hopeless place in the universe and this films pulls it off quite well. This leads to another of the films best moments, too, when Batman and Darkseid face off in a test of who is simply the biggest bastard. *Spoiler Alert* This time it’s Batman. From here, though the movie should have ended, there is one plot extension that has a decent twist and salvages the double ending from derailing the movie. All in, the film was a very enjoyable entry into DC’s animated collection. The characters are all handled logically, the film keeps a sense of fun in its quick pace and it has a lot of callbacks for longtime fans. Now if only Netflix carried those shorts in their versions… 3 ½ stars