Public Enemies the comic, was a six issue story arc that kicked off the Superman/Batman series in 2003 and has since been collected in trade paperback. Written by Jeph Loeb and illustrated in musclebound cartoony glory by Ed McGuinness, this epic featured the World’s Finest pitted against U.S. President Lex Luthor and an enormous roster of DC Universe heroes and villains. Oh yeah, there’s also this kryptonite meteor on a collision course with Earth.
The movie adapted from this comic starts out with various news clips detailing the decline of the U.S. economy into a nation-wide depression. Ironically the only solution lies in the election of LexCorp’s CEO Lex Luthor as President of the United States of America. A flourishing presidency allows Luthor to employ an elite group of superheroes including Captain Atom, Black Lightning, Major Force, Starfire, Katana, and Powergirl. Lex wants to employ all the superheroes so that they will not work against him. Superman obviously will not work for nor trust Luthor and Batman…well, what do you think?
After discovering a kryptonite meteor the size of a small country is heading toward Earth, Luthor decides to destroy it using specially designed missiles rather than utilizing superheroes. He also uses the opportunity to frame Superman in the murder of Metallo (in the guise of a Secret Service agent) claiming that the kryptonite radiation from the meteor is affecting Superman’s judgement, and places a $1 billion bounty on his head.
At this point in the movie Supes and Bats go toe to toe with a plethora of super villains out to collect that bounty. Everyone from Solomon Grundy (born between a Sunday and a Tuesday, I think) to Catman. They even threw in freakin’ Captain Cold! The amount of characters that show up truly is too much to list. The Caped Crusader does takes out Lady Shiva in true Batman fashion I might add! The Dark Knight Detective and the Bright Blue Boyscout have to battle it out with villains, superheroes working for their country, and an insane, kryptonite-venom injecting President. Plus there’s that meteor.
How Does The Movie Compare to the Comic?
Very faithfully indeed. Although some major sub-plots were completely omitted (Future-Superman’s appearance and warning, the “sidekicks” infiltrating the White House), a lot of scenes and dialogue were taken directly from the book. However, a great gimmick employed by the comic featured mirroring inner monologues from the title characters. That is simply not here in the movie. Another thing left out is Batman’s motivation in connecting Metallo’s possible connection to the murder of his parents.
My only complaint about the movie is how Batman fits in all this. He doesn’t. He’s just there. The comic featured Superman and Batman equally. The movie is pretty much Superman’s story. It’s probably why (SPOILER ALERT) they changed the ending to have Batman take the sacrificial plunge that Captain Atom took in the book. Unfortunately the revisions had to be made in order to spotlight the title characters in the confines of a 67 minute run time. Not to take away from what is delivered in this extremely entertaining hour, but I felt like we could have got a lot more with just 30 extra minutes.
Voice acting is top-notch with Kevin Conroy back to to play Batman, Tim Daly as Superman, and the Kurgen as Lex Luthor. Other actors include Allison Mack as Powergirl, Levar Burton as Black Lightning, and John C. McGinley as Metallo.
If you are a fan of the book you might want to check this worthy adaptation out. If you haven’t read Superman/Batman: Public Enemies, then this movie should makes a great hour and seven minute commercial for the graphic novel which I highly recommend.