Superman / Batman: Public Enemies (2009) – Film Review

The DC titans share the limelight in this 2009 animation...

Within minutes the audience will discover just what lays in store for them in Superman/Batman: Public Enemies. Politics and profanities abound without a word of warning which will throw many off-guard cementing one fact about this film – it is not for children!

Readers of the Superman/Batman comic book series will be very used to the idea of the DC titans unlikely pairing but those who haven’t read them needn’t worry. Not as silly as it may seem at first, their pairing has some logical basis.

This straight-to-DVD animated film is based on the Superman/Batman: Public Enemies graphic novel story arc. Teaming up to save the world from a meteor destined to collide with Earth, the two titans must also contend with the troubles bought about when Lex Luther is elected President of the United States. The superhero duo soon have to realise that things aren’t going to be easy.

If ever there was a Superman/Batman storyline in the comic book series worth adapting into a full-length animated feature then this would be it. There would be no way it could have been made into an episode in either of the animated television series’ as there is far more than meets the eye throughout the story.

Interestingly Public Enemies seems to have formed the basis for Marvel’s epic Civil War story arc seeing as it was published several years before Marvel had even conceived the Civil War idea. Sometimes the political allegories are a little too obvious and the idea of powerful people succumbing to that power may be a little tiresome but don’t let that dismay you. If there is one part of this film that makes it stand out it is the fact that it takes the ideas and makes them its own.

The film’s animation style is not as gritty as it should be considering the darkness present in the story but it is feasible, with it being understandable that the animators wanted it to share the style present in both animated television series counterparts (even they have no connection with one another). The voices are spot-on for the most-part with is being hard to imagine anyone else taking on the film’s roles.

It’s not often that you see an animated superhero film with this much integrity; it feels like a strange hybrid of two types of cinema. If anything, Public Enemies is a notable experimentation that pays off. It combines the action that is usually seen in blockbusters with the wit and smarts that are often seen in more cultural films. Of course it is no Citizen Kane or Watchmen but it does manage to surpass a large number of blockbusters. People new to the comic book scene may find the whole ordeal a little too insane to comprehend but if stuck with it is bound to create new converts to DC Comics and animated features.

As boisterous as it is intelligent, this is an animated film from the DC animated universe that is definitely worth a look.

Best scene: When Batman and Superman team up against Hawkman and Captain Marvel, it’s a fan boy’s dream sequence.
Best lines: Batman: ‘The kryptonite is near your heart. I don’t know if I’ll get it before the wound closes’.
Superman: ‘Where’s The Flash when you need him?’
Batman: ‘Do me a favour and lose the sense of humour’.
Superman: ‘Do us both a favour and buy one’.
Watch this if you liked: Justice League: The New Frontier (2008), Superman: Doomsday (2007), Superman/Batman Comic Book series.

Although they are mentioned by name, Superman and Batman’s alter egos (Clark Kent and Bruce Wayne respectively) do not make an appearance.

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