Hollywood Reporter broke the news this week that the animated direct-to-video adaptation of the esteemed Frank Miller comic Batman: Year One has announced its cast. Bryan Cranston, Eliza Dushku, and Katee Sackhoff among others will be voicing the film, which will premiere at San Diego Comic-Con before debuting on DVD and Blu-ray September 27th. Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths co-directors Lauren Montgomery and Sam Liu reteam to helm this one from a script by Tab Murphy (Superman/Batman: Apocalypse).
Here’s the cast announced so far:
Bryan Cranston — Commissioner Gordon
Ben McKenzie — Bruce Wayne/Batman
Eliza Dushku — Selina Kyle/Catwoman
Katee Sackhoff — Detective Sarah Essen
Alex Rocco — Carmine Falcone
In case you didn’t know, Supergirl is back. Actually, she’s been back since 2004. See, prior to that, she was dead in the DC Comics Universe because she was killed in 1985′s Crisis On Infinite Earths storyline after 26 years of faithful hero service since 1959 (Sheesh, so that’s how those DC editors reward a life of sacrifice).
Anyway, last month saw the release of yet another DC Universe Animated Original Movies direct-to-DVD with Superman/Batman: Apocalypse (seriously, they are pumping these out faster and faster). This is an adaptation of “The Supergirl From Krypton” storyline from issues #8-13 of the Superman/Batman comic series. And unlike those comics written by the great Jeph Loeb, this DVD is instantly forgettable due to poor screenwriting choices and so-so animation.
Loeb’s storyline spoke to the importance of family, with Superman having found an actual relative from Krypton alive and wanting to keep her safe, no matter the cost. The DVD version, while following the comic’s storyline and touching on the family theme, focuses more on the old Spider-Man theme of “with great power, comes great responsibility.”
The voice cast is strong, with Tim Daly as Superman, Summer Glau as Supergirl, Andre Braugher as the villain, Darkseid, and in a really strange casting decision, Ed Asner as Granny Goodness. Yes, that Ed Asner… playing a woman. I guess he needed the money?
The quality of the art is touch-and-go. Sometimes it looks very close to Michael Turner’s (of Witchblade fame) original artwork, and sometimes it looks like 1980s cheap Saturday morning cartoon. One thing that drove me a little crazy was the occasional odd proportion in the faces, in particular, Batman’s and Superman’s. Sometimes the chin would be huge, and other times, the space between the nose and mouth would be way too big.
In terms of what else is different between the comic and DVD, there’s an added shopping montage, a short flashback of Krypton, and some of the action sequences have been lengthened and/or simplified (i.e., characters removed). Some minor enemies have changed form for no reason, but it’s not a big deal. A final battle that moved from Earth into space has been kept on Earth, and the outcome of that battle simplified from one that I admit was a little odd in the comic.
Given the amount of girl-on-girl battle in this story, I would have thought the screenwriter would try to impart some greater message about female empowerment (you know, for kids), but there isn’t one. Maybe the added shopping montage was a (lame) way to reach out to the female audience. Whatever the case, it all fell apart for me when the line “surrender now or the bitch dies” was uttered.
Yeah, I know it’s 2010 and this is a PG-13 animated flick, but still, this one line really threw me off. I went back and looked in the comic book. There, the line is simply “Surrender now. Or Barda [the character] dies.” That means this was a change that Tab Murphy, the screenwriter (seriously? Tab?), made when adapting the comic. Sorry, but in my mind, the word “bitch” has become way too common in our media. It’s a cheap, go-to pejorative term used (mostly) between females in combat, and frankly, it has no place in an animated DC Comics movie. Seriously, DC, what the hell? Shame on you for thinking this was okay because I’m sure there are girls (and boys) younger than 13 watching this and while some of you might be thinking “oh relax, it’s just a word,” it was a really unnecessary change that does no one any good.
So skip this one. Read the comic instead; it’s cheaper, the artwork is better, and it doesn’t insult anyone.
Home Media Magazine has an interview with Tab Murphy, screenwriter of the latest DC Comics straight-to-DVD title, Superman/Batman: Apocalypse. This sequel to Superman/Batman: Public Enemies is based on The Supergirl from Krypton storyline which re-introduces Supergirl to the DC universe (by the way, totally called that). In the interview, Murphy discusses how the animation style of the film was meant to be a tribute to the late Michael Turner, the artist behind the series. Tim Daly and Kevin Conroy reprise their roles from Public Enemies as Superman and Batman, respectively, and are joined by Summer Glau as Supergirl, Andre Braugher as Darkseid, Susan Eisenberg as Wonder Woman, and Ed Asner as Granny Goodness.
Superman/Batman: Apocalypse arrives September 28th.