Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Superhero Media: Superman Vs The Elite

Man fuck Dawn of Justice, this is easily the best Superman film with a "Vs" in the title and almost certainly the best Superman film in general since Superman II. How Warner Premiere manages to turn out better animated films than the main studio does live action simply boggles the mind. Like Man of Steel fails to do, Superman Vs The Elite succeeds in answering that eternal question; "What would make Superman kill?" More specifically, how can Superman, who has remained resolutely Silver Age in his attitudes towards violence (for the most par) still be relevant as a force for good in a postmodern world plagued by visceral terror and asymmetrical warfare? I mean, the obvious answer to me is, "Of course he fucking can, he's Superman, The Man of Tomorrow, he represents our potential, not our reality", but, for some reason, most people don't seem to pick up on that too well. Superman Vs The Elite gives us Superman confronting The Elite, a quartet of "Edgy" superheroes with less concern for collateral damage led by Manchester Black, an anachronistic Punk Cliche with major-league psychic powers. 

Those last few sentences sound a little sarcastic, but damn this film is good. Sure, The Elite aren't legends for the ages, but they serve their function well, being a Platinum Age, Post-The Boys, violent and sexualised superheroes in exactly all the ways Superman is not. Aside from a couple of, really great, action set-pieces, the main conflict of the film is ideological; can Superman's unwillingness to take a life, even to save lives, really have any impact on the level of criminality overall as opposed to killing off those people who "deserve it"? These issues are handled with no small amount of reasoned debate and discussion; who gets to decide who should be killed and who shouldn't? Should people with power be trusted merely because they have power? Is a militia state guaranteed to become a violent and anarchic dictatorship given the impossibility of absolute human benevolence? That's right, Superman Vs The Elite is the though-provoking, high-concept Superman film with awesome action sequences that Hollywood and Warner Brothers seems incapable of making.

Buy this film. Buy it on Blu-Ray or DVD (after buying Agent Carter) so that the sales figures skyrocket and Warner realises that people want intelligent superhero cinema that tackles philosophical issues. There are enough cool action sequences to be entertaining and the finale with an "unleashed" Superman is brilliant, way better than any shaky-cam CGI sequence from Man of Steel. Superman is an icon, and it's good to see him truly tested on occasion, and no, I don't mean having him killed off by Doomsday to boost sales. Superman Vs The Elite, get on it. 

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