The next generation of The World’s Finest join forces on 4K UHD
Batman and Superman have always had an interesting relationship, making great allies both as partners (dubbed in this configuration as the “World’s Finest”) and as the figureheads and cornerstones of the Justice League. But despite their partnership, versions of these characters have come to blows, famously in storylines like Tower of Babel, The Dark Knight Returns, and Injustice, among others.
Ideologically dissimilar, the characters reflect different upbringing and worldviews. One a rich orphan scarred by tragedy. The other, a Kansas farmboy raised by loving parents. Most pointedly, Batman’s identity is his Dark Knight persona and Bruce Wayne is his mask; whereas Superman is truly Clark Kent at heart.
These themes are even more pronounced with a new generation in their respective sons, Damian Wayne and Jonathan Kent. Bruce Wayne is dark, sure, but his son Damian is even more so: raised in secret by his mother Talia al Ghul, and trained as a murderous assassin in the League of Shadows until Wayne learned of his existence and took him in. He’s broken on the inside, and it manifests on the outside as a prickly personality, smarmy and condescending.
Jonathan, the cheery son of Clark and Lois Kent, is a chip off the old block: a sweet small town kid, hitherto unaware of his unique heritage, and just starting to realize his nascent powers.
And despite the more marketable names “Batman and Superman” in the movie’s title, this is the boys’ show.
Jonathan and Damian don’t exactly hit it off, but become allies by necessity when a Body Snatchers-esque threat takes over the Justice League. The villain Starro and his army of mind-controlling starfish-like aliens (also recently seen in James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad) take over most of the planet, including the boys’ famous super-dads.
The pairing is a classic odd-couple setup, but the concept of the boys having to fight their fathers (as well as the other heroes of the Justice League and Teen Titans, not to mention Starro) is a really enjoyable framework.
The film has a lot of reverence for the lore of its characters, and I was particularly pleased by a scene where the boys, looking for a safe place to plan their next move, visit the Fortress of Solitude and make some neat discoveries. Certain aspects of Jonathan’s learning about his identity are often directly reminiscent of Richard Donner’s Superman (1978), giving it a sense of keen nostalgia.
The film is CG-animated, but rendered in a cel animation style. In single frames it looks like traditional animation, but in motion is clearly modeled and rendered in 3D. It’s a little bit uncanny at times as films animated this way often are, but the film is rendered in such a fun and colorful style that it mostly pulls off the look.
I really dug this. It’s a fun exploration of familiar characters, but with a fresh angle.
Batman and Superman: Battle of the Super Sons is now available on 4K UHD and Blu-ray from Warner Bros. The 4K edition, which I’m reviewing, includes a Blu-ray disc (with extras) and digital copy. My copy came with a metallic slipcover.
Special Features and Extras – on Blu-ray Disc
Rival Sons: Jonathan and Damian (14:41) — The film’s creative team explores the origins and making of the film and the process of adapting the comics stories into a movie.
The Demon’s Quest (22:22) and The Demon’s Quest Part II (22:18)—
A pair of episodes from Batman: The Animated Series collect the 2-part story of Batman’s encounter with Ra’s and Talia al Ghul, Damian’s biological grandfather and mother.
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Except where noted, all 16:9 screen images in this review are direct captures from the disc(s) in question with no editing applied, but may have compression or resizing inherent to file formats and Medium’s image system.