Movie Reviews

A 1990s Movie Shows The DCU How To Nail A Batman & Superman Crossover

With new Batman and Superman movies on the horizon, James Gunn’s DCU has a chance to nail a crossover between the two, and a 1990s movie shows precisely how to do it. The next Superman will be played by a younger actor, focusing on the Man of Steel’s early days, which presents a new opportunity for him to meet Batman. While these two icons had their first live-action crossover in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, audience perception was mixed, and the controversy surrounding 2017’s Justice League movie didn’t help. This makes it crucial for the next Batman and Superman outing to give the World’s Finest a worthy team-up.

Despite past setbacks, Batman and Superman can still have a great live-action crossover, provided it’s done the right way. Both heroes may be loved individually, but there’s something special about the two coming together, making them one of DC’s most popular duos. There have already been countless books, comics, video games, and animated TV shows that brought Batman and Superman together successfully. However, there’s one movie from the 1990s that did it better than any other, providing the perfect blueprint for the DCU to create an amazing Batman and Superman crossover.

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The Batman/Superman Movie: World’s Finest is a perfect example of doing a Batman and Superman movie the right way. Originally a three-episode crossover between Superman: The Animated Series and The New Batman Adventures, the episodes were re-edited into a single film for the DVD release. The DC Animated Universe had already succeeded in establishing these characters separately, but World’s Finest showed how great they could be when they had a chance to team up. This single crossover arguably paved the way for the TV shows that followed, including the acclaimed Justice League and Justice League Unlimited.

World’s Finest does an exceptional job highlighting the differences between Batman and Superman, which puts them at odds but also makes them a great team. Their initial distrust of each other leads to a great rivalry, but they grow to respect each other and work together in the end. The crossover is topped off by excellent writing, a logical progression of events, and getting to see Batman and Superman take down villains together. Both heroes are brought to life with incredible voice performances by the late Kevin Conroy and by Tim Daly, both of whom would go on to voice the characters in other DC animated projects.

Lois Lane also creates tension between the two when she finds herself in a relationship with Bruce Wayne. Her interactions with both heroes, in and out of costume, are another way to highlight their respective strengths and weaknesses. Bruce and Clark put it best after Lois discovers Bruce’s identity: “She likes Bruce Wayne, and she likes Superman. It’s the other two guys she’s not crazy about.” This is only one of many examples of how World’s Finest manages to creatively analyze every character trait of Batman and Superman.

It also succeeds with the Joker and Lex Luthor, making them among the best adaptations of the popular villains. Mark Hamill’s animated Joker performance is always top-notch and hilarious, but he manages to bring a good deal of anger and desperation to the movie. This creates a strong dichotomy between Joker and Lex Luthor as well, showing their major differences and goals when it comes to committing crimes. Batman and Superman are also given a chance to interact with new villains, with Lex Luthor being a dark reflection of Bruce Wayne and Joker a madman that teaches Superman to “expect the unexpected.”

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Batman v Superman, meanwhile, didn’t adapt the World’s Finest to live-action as well as fans hoped. The biggest problem is how Batman and Superman are portrayed, with both of them being very serious and wanting to take each other down for similar reasons. Batman’s kill count in Batman v Superman was controversial, and the project needed a more hopeful version of Superman to contrast Batman. The fact that they’re actual enemies limits the number of meaningful interactions between them and makes it far less believable when they suddenly become friends at the very end.

World’s Finest is a much more logical approach to having Batman and Superman meet for the first time. Batman v Superman creates a rivalry by having the heroes hunt each other, while World’s Finest puts them at odds because of their different methods and philosophies. This makes it more believable when they’re finally able to work together, and it’s far more entertaining when they interact because of their noticeable differences. Unlike Batman v Superman, which tried to set up an entire universe all at once, World’s Finest keeps the focus solely on Batman and Superman.

If the new DCU wants to avoid past problems and create an awesome Batman and Superman crossover, then it must learn from World’s Finest. New adaptations should always bring something unique to the table, but new Batman and Superman movies also need to remember what makes each character special. They shouldn’t be too similar in terms of goals and attitude, and the filmmakers must remember that their differences are why they work well together. However, instead of jumping straight to Batman v Superman, the new versions of the characters deserve a chance to be established on their own first.

While a crossover can always lead to more events, like a Justice League DCU reboot, setting up a universe shouldn’t be the main focus. Batman v Superman spent too much time setting up Wonder Woman, the Justice League, and other potential spinoffs when audiences would have been fine with Batman and Superman. World’s Finest wisely leaves the door open for more crossovers and TV shows without taking away from the story at hand. The DCU has several possibilities for a Batman and Superman crossover, but if it wants to be great, then it should learn from the best, and The Batman/Superman Movie: World’s Finest is currently the bar others are measured by.

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