The Batman/Superman Movie
directed by Toshihiko Masuda
(Warner Brothers, 1998)

In comics, there have been many pairings between Batman and Superman. Depending on the generation and writer, the two heroes have been the best of pals, the worst of enemies or something in the middle. Given the popularity of their respective animated TV series in the 1990s, a partnership in that medium was inevitable.

The Batman/Superman Movie, despite its unimaginative title, does a good job of capturing the right mood between the two caped vigilantes. They're not foes by any stretch, but they're certainly not pals, either. Their first meeting leads to the inevitable scuffling, but as the hour-long movie progresses, they develop a grudging respect for each other. However, their alter egos -- billionaire Bruce Wayne (Kevin Conroy) and journalist Clark Kent (Tim Daly) -- are on shakier ground, as Bruce initiates a serious romance with Clark's would-be squeeze, reporter Lois Lane (Dana Delaney).

The title characters' developing relationship is mirrored somewhat by the tenuous alliance between villains Lex Luthor (Clancy Brown) and the Joker (Mark Hamill) and, to a lesser extent, between Harley Quinn (Arleen Sorkin) and Mercy Graves (Lisa Edelstein).

The plot is clever, if not ground-breaking, with the Joker subcontracting out to Luthor for a bid to kill Superman. Batman catches wind of the scheme and heads to Metropolis to capture the clown. As villains go, the Joker has much more to do than Luthor; likewise, Batman garners a bit more attention than Superman. Much of the fun here is in watching the interplay among Bruce, Clark and Lois, as well as the growing rivalry between Harley and Mercy.

The animation is simple, but effective. Don't go looking for Disney-caliber animation here, folks, but the artistic team led by director Toshihiko Masuda got the job done nonetheless. This is an entertaining flick that is suitable for grownups and children alike.

[ by Tom Knapp ]
Rambles: 31 August 2002

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