Top 5 Batman/Superman team-ups
by Chris Morris
*now first a disclaimer: I don’t want to come off as a DC hater. I’ve read DC comics most of my life. I just didn’t like Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. I am really looking forward to both Suicide Squad and Wonder Woman. That being said…
While there are no doubt many more examples of this if you go back through the entire history of DC Comics and all of the different animated versions of each hero, but here are the Top Five Best Batman / Superman team-ups IMHO.
RELATED: My Massive, Definitive, One-Sided Dissection, er, Review of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice PART ONE
*Notice I said “team-ups” and not fights…cause these two fighting is dumb, they are much better as a team…
Batman and Superman have both been around 80 years and have been best friends for most of that time. Many writers and artists, like for instance, one random example, a director like Zack Snyder, have taken a crack at their interpretation of the Dark Knight and Man of Steel sharing the same space. And here are the best…
5) Lego Batman: The Movie – DC SuperHeroes Unite (2013)
This is a direct-to-video movie based on the video game “Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes“. The filmmakers took cut scenes from the game and then replaced gameplay with new scenes using the same actors. While Wonder Woman, Flash and other members of the Justice League show up later on, this is basically a Superman-Batman team up film. And it’s hilarious! Batman is needlessly dour and Superman is overly chipper and together they are an awesome team as they take on Lex Luthor and the Joker. While this isn’t necessarily the best ever adaptation of these two heroes teaming up, it’s definitely the funniest! And it’s fun for the whole family too! Imagine! 🙂
4) Batman Brave and the Bold: Battle of the Superheroes (2011)
“Batman: The Brave and the Bold” was a great series that was underrated. Why? I don’t know, but if I had to guess it was because of the lighter tone in a world that cried out for grim and gritty. This show focused on Batman, of course, but also lesser-known heroes like Blue Beetle, Green Arrow (before his CW show), Plastic Man and Green Lantern Guy Gardner. As well as the greatest version of Aquaman ever! Anyway, Superman didn’t come along until the Season Three episode “Battle of the Superheroes”. The show, which blended Silver Age homages with current adaptations of the DC comics heroes (using Jaime Reyes as Blue Beetle, for example). The Superman episode is one such example. Superman is tricked into being exposed to Red Kryptonite, goes rogue and it’s up to Batman to set him straight. And along the way there are lots of Silver Age homages, like Jimmy’s signal watch, Krypto, the green-booty shorts-hanging out with a monkey version of Brainiac…and a way better Batman/Superman fight than in that movie…you know the one…
3) Superman/Batman: Public Enemies (2009)
This is one long Superman/Batman on-the-run movie…Lex Luthor is President and has framed them, so he turns everyone against them. Soon friends and enemies alike are chasing the “World’s Finest Team”. There is some genuine traces of friendship shown here, humour between two old friends and a sense they care for each other and always have each other’s backs. The fight scenes, with them fighting everyone from Gorilla Grodd to Deadshot to Captain Marvel to Hawkman, are pretty cool too.
2) Man of Steel #3 John Byrne era “One Night in Gotham City” (1987)
After “Crisis on Infinite Earths”, the DC Universe was reborn and John Byrne had the task of re-inventing Superman for the ’90s. He was to make Superman more similar to the Christopher Reeve version…no more Superboy, for instance. The people of Krypton were all scientists and babies were born in tubes, that kind of stuff…anyway, that meant Byrne got to write the first meeting of Supes and Bats. And he did a great job with it. And with a bit of a lame villain (Magpie), the action scenes are not nearly as fun as just having these two icons sharing the same space and trading dialogue. At first Superman wants to take Batman in (since he’s a vigilante and all) but Batman has a force field around himself that if Supes penetrates it, a bomb will go off somewhere in Gotham City, killing an innocent bystander. Superman is horrified by this until later he learns that…well I’ll leave that for you to find out if you don’t already know. Byrne’s run has been retconned for the most part (even before “The New 52”) but it was fun at the time…
1) The Batman/Superman Movie: World’s Finest (1997)
If it were up to me, and it isn’t and probably never will be, sure I’d take a crack at trying to come up with something new in the Superman/Batman dynamic, but when it comes down to it, what they should have done with THAT MOVIE was just adapt this into a live action feature. This animated film, done by the greats Bruce Timm and Paul Dini and their team, is pretty much perfect. It takes the best of every team up trope, like ‘switching dance partners’, with Joker out to kill Superman and Bruce Wayne going on a date with Lois Lane and makes them great. The Batman/Superman interaction is nice, with them learning each others’ secret identities as a game of one-upmanship. The dialogue and characterizations are done so well that the action scenes are actually a low-point. But the best part of this movie is that it brought together Batman: The Animated Series and Superman: The Animated Series and that lead to the Justice League and Justice League Unlimited series, which is something DC Entertainment should go back and take a look at to see how it’s done properly.
*Bonus: “Knight Time” and “The Demon Reborn” are two other examples of Batman/Superman teaming up in the BTAS and STAS universe. These aren’t as awesome but they are still great stuff! In “Knight Time” Batman is missing so Superman comes to help Robin defend Gotham City, not by being Superman but by trying to be Batman and it’s pretty funny stuff. In “The Demon Reborn” Batman and Superman team up to fight Ra’s Al Ghul when Ra’s immortality is running out and he tries to drain Superman of his. Good stuff!
*Bonus #2: While not quite on the same level, I remember loving the 10-part series called Batman & Superman: World’s Finest by Karl Kessel, Dave Taylor and others. It shows a different 1st meeting between Supes and Bats, where they fail to save a mutual friend and vow to meet up on that night’s anniversary to honour their fallen comrade. It’s not the best adaptation, but some of the chapters are quite good, like when, after Jason Todd dies, Superman takes Batman to Smallville and tries to help him get through that experience. And later Superman comes back from the dead only to find a new Batman in charge of Gotham…there is some greatness buried here, so check it out. The trade can be found on Amazon, although there are a lot of trades called some variation of “Superman and Batman” or “World’s Finest” so beware. Or just buy them all, I doubt there’s any crap out there when these two get together…they are the two greatest superheroes of all time, after all…
Follow Chris Morris on twitter, here!
Chris Morris is a filmmaker, world-traveller and comic book writer. He’s currently working on “The Supers: the 3rd Best Super-Team in the World”