|Superman vs. The Elite|
|Directed by||Michael Chang|
|Written by||Joe Kelly|
|Based on||Superman by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster|
Robin Atkin Downes
|Edited by||Christopher D. Lozinski|
|Music by||Robert J. Kral|
|Distributed by||Warner Home Video|
Superman vs. The Elite is an animated superhero film based on the comic book story "What's So Funny About Truth, Justice & the American Way?" in Action Comics #775 (March 2001). Adapted by Joe Kelly who also wrote the comic book story and directed by Michael Chang. The film featured the return of George Newbern as Superman and David Kaufman as Jimmy Olsen reprising their roles from the DC animated universe. Released on June 12, 2012, it is the 14th film of the DC Universe Animated Original Movies.
The supervillain Atomic Skull attacks Metropolis, killing several people before Superman arrives and defeats him. Shortly after, at a United Nations summit when questioned about the property damage and lives lost in the fight and why he doesn't try to "fix the world" with his power, Superman delivers a speech which emphasizes both the folly of lawless violence and the greater good that is found within everyone. Superman's speech is interrupted, however, by the leaders of Bialya and Pokolistan, who, blaming each other for the violation of a peace treaty, declare war on each other. Arriving in Bialya, Superman witnesses the deployment of a Pokolistani bio-weapon which attacks and destroys most of the Bialyan military forces. As Superman attempts to remove the Bialyan soldiers from danger, the Elite arrive and aid Superman in destroying the bio-weapon.
The Elite consist of Manchester Black, a British telepath and telekinetic of incredible power who acts as the group's leader; Coldcast, an African-American man who can emit tremendous amounts of electrical energy; Menagerie, a woman who is symbiotically bonded with a number of demonic-looking beasts; and Hat, a magician whose magical abilities are centered upon his fedora.
Superman returns to Metropolis to report the news and further investigate the Elite. The Elite and Superman rescue civilians on a subway train trapped underwater due to a terrorist attack, but the terrorists are nearly killed by Manchester's attempt at interrogation. Superman begins to be concerned about the motives of his newfound friends.
Manchester broadcasts a message to the planet, informing the world that the Elite intend to deal with villains lethally. After the broadcast, Superman travels to Bialya, where he is inadvertently hit by a Coldcast-generated neutrino pulse that greatly weakens him. Superman is saved by the timely intervention of the Elite, and teleported to their base of operations - a sentient macro-organism named Bunny. Superman's attempt to convince the Elite that killing is unnecessary falls upon deaf ears, and he is unceremoniously teleported back to Earth.
Atomic Skull breaks out of prison and is challenged by The Elite with little success. Superman arrives and begins to coordinate an attack with the Elite that allows them to emerge victorious, but Atomic Skull is executed by Manchester. The Elite inform Superman that, in the interests of peace, they have also killed both the Pokolistani and Bialyan leaders, and regard Superman's adverse reaction as a declaration of war.
Superman informs the Elite that he is willing to fight them, but away from the civilian populace. Bunny teleports both parties to the Moon, and broadcasts the fight worldwide. While Superman is able to withstand and counter the attacks of Coldcast, Menagerie and Hat, he is brought to his knees by Manchester's telekinetic attack. Coldcast unleashes a massive blast of electromagnetic energy, seemingly obliterating Superman. Moments later, the disconcerted voice of Superman begins to taunt the Elite, stating that he has finally been convinced that he needs to start killing villains - beginning with the Elite.
Reappearing in a blur of movement, Superman begins to take out the Elite one by one; first, he injects Menagerie with a poison before suffocating The Hat with a super-speed generated whirlwind. Against Coldcast's wishes, Manchester teleports them to Metropolis, hoping to use the innocent civilians as cover before Superman seemingly throws Coldcast into orbit.
Reappearing before an increasingly desperate Manchester, Superman is once again attacked, but the assault fails to harm the Man of Steel, who uses his heat vision powers to lobotomise Manchester, stripping him of his powers.
Believing his death to be seconds away, Manchester tells Superman that the world knows he is no better than they are and thus unable to be trusted. However, Superman reveals that The Elite were not killed but transported to the Fortress of Solitude and stripped of their power. The people of Earth realize that violence and killing were incompatible with the tenets of justice, and ultimately accept that Superman's methods are in the best interests of all of mankind.
The film was first announced at San Diego Comic-Con 2011, during the screening of Batman: Year One, as one of the films from the DC Universe Animated Original Movies line for 2012, by producer Bruce Timm. Joe Kelly, writer of Action Comics #775, "What's So Funny About Truth, Justice & the American Way?," adapted his own work into the film. He was quoted as saying, "The story tackles themes that go way beyond a typical superhero story...politics, the price of power and America's place as a force in the world are all viewed through the lens of the DC Universe. Even if fans aren't paying close attention to these issues, they're all over the media. You can't escape them. So with the state of affairs being what it is, I can't think of a better time to see Superman confront these themes...I'm a big fan of taking real world issues and working them out through our "superhero" stories—but this one goes beyond strict allegory. Like the original comic story, the film is thought provoking without being preachy and really delivers a punch." He also said that, in terms of expanding the comic book issue into an animated film, and the differences between the two, that he "Alan [Burnett] helped me cut to the heart of the story and personalize it for an audience who might not have known the original comic...the original story was about anti-heroes and comic fans and trends in the industry that were disturbing to me when it was written. For the story to work as a film, we needed to get beyond that while keeping the core of the story: that Superman serves a purpose and his moral code is relevant even in the modern world. This is where the expansion into "world politics" really helped."
Superman vs. the Elite utilizes the same musical main theme that was composed by Robert Kral for the previously released animated film Superman: Doomsday.
On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an 80% score based on five reviews, with an average rating of 7.2/10.
Superman vs. the Elite earned $1,815,269 from domestic DVD sales and $1,394,884 from domestic Blu-ray sales, bringing its total domestic earnings to $3,210,153.
Superman vs. The Elite was released on DVD and Blu-ray with a combo pack. Features include: a sneak peek at Part 1 of the animated film version of The Dark Knight Returns, two featurettes "The Elite Unbound: No Rules, No Mercy" and "Superman and the Moral Debate", audio commentary, two episodes of Superman: The Animated Series, and Action Comics #775 as a digital comic. The combo pack was released on June 12, 2012.
It is the final film by Warner Premiere, as Warner Home Video shut the company down two months later. Though, titles still continued to be released under the Warner Premiere label until 2013.