Verdict: 4 / 5
If you fancy watching DC’s two top guys meeting for the first time and squaring off, but don’t feel up to watching two and a half hours of boring dream sequences and an unconvincing Lex Luthor, then The Batman/Superman Movie: World’s Finest is the one for you. In fact, you could watch it twice in that amount of time, and still not be bored. Now that’s entertainment!
The Joker and Harley Quinn steal a statue made of kryptonite and decide it’s time to hit Metropolis and hire themselves out to Lex Luthor. Thankfully, Batman is the world’s greatest detective and figures out their plan, setting off for Superman’s hometown to stop them. Luthor, annoyed at the man of steel’s recent successes, grudgingly strikes a deal with the villains. Can their combined villainy overcome Superman and Batman, and can our heroes work out their differences?
From the moment Bruce Wayne hits town, Lois Lane is smitten with him – something which rubs Clark Kent the wrong way. When Batman and Superman first meet, Superman believes he has the upper hand by using his X-ray vision to learn the vigilante’s secret identity. However, when Superman returns to his home that night and finds a tracking device on his costume planted by Batman, Superman realises his own secret identity has been learned by his crime-fighting rival.
Amusingly, the villains themselves have a hard time cooperating too. Lex finds the Joker distasteful and tries to ditch him at every opportunity, whilst his bodyguard Mercy and Harley Quinn keep trading blows. Still, it’s their attacks on the world’s finest heroes which count, from using weaponised robots to experimental aircraft. Oh, and Lois Lane gets kidnapped too, whilst the Joker promises that she’ll have a headline story soon – the death of Superman.
Ticking over at a fast pace (these were originally three episodes of the Superman animated series) they tell an action-packed, entertaining story which shows both heroes at their best. Batman can handle himself, but it’s his detective skills which help in many situations. Superman is the muscle, but never relies on it without using his brain. Despite some initial pushing and shoving, it’s their verbal sparring which counts. “Thank you. I could never have saved Lois without your help,” Superman tells Batman. Batman, always being himself, simply replies, “I’m aware of that.”
There’s plenty of humour on display, and it doesn’t just come from the heroes. The villains have some great moments without it ever being camp. Lois is the feisty go-getter we know and love, pointing out that Clark Kent is probably out shucking some corn, and even a supporting character like Bibbo gets a few seconds to make the viewers grin.
However, it’s the story in its entirety which holds everything together, as well as how accurate the characters are. Lex is the slippery, shrewd and calm businessman he’s supposed to be. Harley is as quirky and adorable as ever, in her own psychotic way. The Joker is manic, Bruce Wayne’s playboy persona is properly on display, and Clark is the good guy struggling to juggle being a reporter and a superhero.
Fun for fans young and old, it never plays itself just for kids and still holds up even now, almost twenty years after it first came out. It may not have the “v.” between our heroes, but it’s better for it.