Kal-El has a widely known nickname in, “The Last Son of Krypton”. After having to deal with his arch-nemesis using the powers of the oval office against him, he’s about to find out that he’s not the only figure from his home planet as we’ll see in…
Originally released on September 28, 2010, this film is the sequel to “Superman/Batman: Public Enemies” and is based off the second story arc of the Superman/Batman comic called “The Supergirl From Krypton”, taking place in issues #8-13. Jeph Loeb handled writing duties again, yet the late Michael Turner took care of the penciling. How does this film hold up to its original story? Let’s find out.
We open in Gotham City where we hear a radio broadcast talk about Lex Luthor (who was the U.S. President in “Public Enemies”) getting impeached. Also, there’s been numerous meteor showers popping up throught the skies ever since the original Kyptonite Meteor was destroyed.
Suddenly, a fireball falls from the sky and slams into the waters just outside Gotham Harbor.
Shortly afterwards, the Bat-Boat arrives as the Dark Knight himself, Batman, (voiced by Kevin Conroy) dives down to investigate. He comes across various pieces of the Kryptonite Meteor along the ocean floor, but comes across something even more astonishing in the form of a spaceship not like those on Earth.
As he investigates the craft, a slim figure makes its way up to the Bat-Boat. While stumbling in, she inadvertently hits the throttle, causing the boat to start moving. Batman gets informed by the built-in intruder alarm system and uses a grappling hook to latch onto his craft, getting dragged along in the process.
As his boat heads towards the docks, he lets go of his line just as it crashes into the boardwalk and explodes. As such, Batman makes his way onto the shore to go find the culprit responsible.
Following the opening credits, we then see three dock workers handling boxes when the slim figure makes her way towards them. One of the guys starts up with the sweet-talking, despite her speaking a language not like any on Earth. As he reaches out, she grabs his wrist hard enough to break it. Another dock worker tries to intervene, but gets shoved all the way back into the crates. The lone remaining worker then gives up his coat out of his own panic. Batman arrives shortly after she left to know what happened.
The young woman then darts out into the street where a car slams into her, but she doesn’t incur a single injury. This gets the attention of the police, especially when she accidentally uses her Heat Vision on one of their cars. As the chase continues, she starts to uncontrollably fly up into the air.
Batman catches up to her, but she manages to slip from his grasp as she tries to jump towards a nearby building. However, her powers act up again as she floats upward into the air.
She then inadvertently crashes into a police blimp, causing it to start exploding. As she falls nearby, the blimp starts to descend. Fortunately, Superman (voiced by Tim Daly) flies in and manages to carry the aircraft enough to let it safely crash into the water.
Batman then catches up to where the young gal landed and holds up a piece of the Kryptonite Meteor, causing her to fall unconscious.
We then cut to the Batcave where Batman has strapped the young female down and uses the Bat-Computer to scan her. After confirming that she’s not from Earth, she wakes up and easily breaks out of her harnesses. After inadvertently using her Heat Vision as a distraction, she starts to fly upward to try and escape. Superman grabs her ankle and starts communicating to her. It turns out that just like the Man of Steel, the young female is speaking the kryptonian language.
Superman then tells Batman that the young girl’s name is Kara Zor-El (voiced by Summer Glau of Firefly & Terminator: The Sarah Conner Chronicles fame) and that they’re kryptonian cousins.
We then cut to the Fortress of Solitude where Superman and Batman are decoding a message that was imprinted on Kara’s spaceship which states: “This vessel contains my daughter, Kara Zor-El from the now dead planet Krypton. Treat her as you would your own child. She will prove a treasure for your world.”. Batman questions about her being a possible threat since she has a denser cellular structure, which allowed her to gain her powers very quickly. Just then, Kara breaks down a heavy down and tells them that something’s attacking her.
It turns out to be the Superdog itself, Krypto. Superman gets him under control as Batman sends Kara away. The Caped Crusader uses this incident to further prove his suspicious fact that not only is she having trouble with her powers, but also that she doesn’t remember a good portion of her past. Superman confirms that while there are possible loose ends to her, Kara is in quarantine until she’s able to properly function with her superpowers.
We then cut to Kara checking out the various alien creatures with the Fortress’ walls. Noticing an approaching Batman with her super-hearing, she speaks of her hatred for him since there’s a lack of trust between them. Batman wants her to remember the details of her past, but she’s only been able to fill in a few pieces of information like knowing whom Kal-El’s parents were.
Kara then tells him about her final moments on Krypton where her father Zor-El (his name doesn’t even get mentioned in this film) knew of the planet’s ultimate demise just like Kal-El’s parents (whom the fathers were brothers) and has her placed in a space ship to get sent to Earth. As her ship starts to use a sleep gas to put her under, she sees a planetary explosion claim the lives of her parents until the last thing that she remembers is a bright light. She then explains that her ship was then slowly carried across space on the same gigantic Kryptonite Meteor from ‘Public Enemies’ until it was ultimately destroyed and her ship finally managed to reach Earth. Kara also states that she can’t remember her mother’s name, to which Batman states that the reason he doesn’t entirely trust her is because of Superman’s various enemies who could use her to take him down.
On cue, we then cut to the planet Apokolips where Granny Goodness (voiced by Ed Asner) is overseeing the tryouts for the new captain of her Honor Guard. A woman named Treasure (changed from “Precious” in the original source material) has shown her battle skills to be impressive, but her final test would be to best the Female Furies. She initially puts up a good fight, but she ultimately gets defeated and killed.
We then have the ruler of Apokolips named Darkseid (voiced by Andre Braugher) approach Granny Goodness to express his disappointment in Treasure’s inability to win the title of Honor Guard captain. He then tells her to go get Kara and bring her to him.
We then get a quick glimpse of a blonde woman using her orb to look into the future and sees Superman carrying a dead woman of equally-blonde hair who looks similar to Kara in his arms.
We then cut to Metropolis where Kara is walking alongside Superman under his Earthly guise of Clark Kent. Happy to be rid of her Quarantine status, she tells him that she wants to know what it’s like to be a normal Earth girl. What follows is a montage of Kara’s shopping spree on Clark’s wallet as she acquires loads of clothes, some shoes and even a manicure. Afterwards, she develops an appetite, to which Clark introduces her to the joyful junk food that is a hot dog.
Later that night, Clark and Kara are walking through Centennial Park as she talks of her personal discomfort known as Batman. Clark wants her to pace herself and that some heroes have minor guises in order to live among the humans. We even hear of Kara’s X-Ray Vision being developed since she noticed Batman’s lead-lined cowl. They ultimately reach the memorial statue of Superman where Kara compares Clark’s superhero status as being the city’s champion. She even states that having superpowers scares her due to the level of responsibility that comes with it as to why she doesn’t want to be anyone’s champion.
Just then, Clark’s super-hearing picks up someone nearby in the shadows. Shortly afterwards, he gets blasted by an energy beam. Just as Kara is about to rush to his aid, a lasso manages to wrap around her leg. She tries to fly away, but the one wielding the lariet also possesses superhuman strength. Kara tries using her Heat Vision as a attack, but they get easily deflected by someone wearing a certain pair of bracelets. Also, her lack of control causes the heat beams to slice through nearby trees, a park bench and the Superman statue. Meanwhile, Clark emerges as Superman and tries coming to Kara’s aid, but another figure attacks with swift punches. He then sees multiple copies of said woman surrounding him, yet responds by spinning around fast enough to send them away. When Superman finally catches up, he sees that the attack was staged by Wonder Woman (voiced by Susan Eisenberg).
The other figure also shows up and combines back into one form. This turns out to be the same woman with the future-predicting orb named Lyla Michaels a.k.a. Harbinger (voiced by Rachel Quaintance). Batman also emerges from the shadows and it turns out that the three of them were in agreement with each other in the fact that she can’t stay in Metropolis and needs to go with Wonder Woman in order to receive proper training. Despite wanting Kara’s power control to come more naturally, Superman silently and reluctantly agrees.
We then cut to the Amazonian island home of Themyscira where Kara is being trained in the art of sword-fighting by one of the Amazon’s greatest warriors, Artemis (also voiced by Rachel Quaintance). With Wonder Woman serving as referee while Superman, Batman and Harbinger watch alongside a small group of Amazons, the duel is brief, yet fierce. Artemis ultimately manages to get the upper hand on Kara following a swift kick that knocks her to the ground while also disarming her before standing over and preparing what looks like a finishing strike. Just then, Superman comes to her rescue and tosses Artemis aside, despite Kara telling him that it’s just an exercise. We then find out in his argument with Wonder Woman that it’s been two months since the start of her Amazonian training, but Kara brushes Supes off saying that she wants to decide what’s best for herself. After she leaves alongside Harbinger (who only goes by Lyla in this film), Batman joins the conversation to hear about Superman’s over-protectiveness stemming from Harbinger’s grim prediction. The Dark Knight expresses his feeling that Kal’s been letting his guard down since Kara’s arrival, yet Superman continues his strong hunch that she’s his cousin.
After flying to another part of Paradise Island, Kara feels the frustration of her cousin’s over-protectiveness and everyone else deciding what’s best for her. Harbinger tells her a related story about how she was unsure of what to do with her life when she first came to Themyscira and that Diana helped her out through this tough time. Kara states that she’s definitely felt at home among the Amazons and feels glad that Lyla’s been the first true friend that she’s ever had. Despite the grim prediction taking place near the waters, Harbinger gives in to Kara’s request to go for a swim.
Meanwhile, Superman, Wonder Woman and Batman continue their conversation about how Lyla’s visions has been getting worse, especially with the fact that the prediction isn’t offering a lot in detail, which is why Wonder Woman wants to keep Kara away from the outside world for the near future. She even states that the Amazonian Army is on stand-by.
Just then, a Boom Tube opens in front of them as the death machine itself Doomsday emerges. However, it turns out that a whole legion of Doomsdays have arrived.
The Amazonian Army, led by Artemis, quickly arrives as they make their stand alongside our Trinity of heroes. Wonder Woman gives the call to attack as our heroes clash with the horde of Doomsdays. As both sides swap blow after blow with each other, our heroes find out that despite slashing and stabbing the various Doomsdays, they’re not bleeding. After destroying one of the monsters with three explosive Batarangs, Batman starts to catch onto the fact that there’s something bigger than just this one particular onslaught. As such, he runs off on a hunch.
Shortly afterwards, Superman is ready to deliver the final blow. He has Wonder Woman order the Amazons to fall back before he delivers a wide-range blast of Heat Vision, eradicating the beasts off the face of existence.
It turns out that Batman’s gut instant was right as the Doomsday attack was just a distraction in order for something much worse to happen on the other side of the island. Harbinger’s death vision had come true, but it turns out that the blonde woman who would turn up dead was Harbinger herself.
Her orb shows our Trinity what happened as Lyla’s death came at the hands of Darkseid and his Omega Beams. With Kara now kidnapped, Superman states that they’ll head off to Apokolips.
Meanwhile, shortly after Granny Goodness places Kara in her prison cell, she gets visited by Darkseid as he begins to manipulate her under his will and control.
We then see our Trinity of Heroes arriving at the home of Big Barda (voiced by Julianne Grossman). We learn that she used to be the captain of Darkseid’s Honor Guard before she defected under her own will and ultimately escaped to Earth in order to live a normal life among the humans. When Superman asks for her help in rescuing Kara, Barda initially turns it down since she feels that his cousin is lost to him and will be exploited in the same way that she was. Superman comforts her in that they don’t want Kara to end up becoming a tortured killing machine just like she was.
In the end, Barda agrees to help get them to Apokolips as long as she comes along, since her many years on the planet lets her know the ins-and-outs of Darkseid’s Fortress.
Our heroes waste no time using Barda’s Mother Box to access a Boom Tube to Apokolips as they begin their rescue mission.
Just then, a pair of demonic tanks approach our heroes and attack by shooting out streams of fire. Superman and Wonder Woman manage to destroy one tank while Batman uses his Batarangs to disable the other, allowing Barda to use her superhuman strength to shove it into a deep pit, exploding on impact. Afterwards, Superman flies off to confront Darkseid, Batman uses his newly-acquired astro-harness to fly off and take care of his business, while Wonder Woman and Barda proceed to take the low road through the sewer system.
Our two heroines ultimately make their way towards the arena where Granny Goodness was waiting with her Female Furies: Stompa (left, voiced by casting director Andrea Romano), Mad Harriet (front center, voiced by Salli Saffioti), Lashina (back center, voiced by Tara Strong) and Gilotina (right, also voiced by Salli Saffioti).
Wonder Woman and Barda manage to fight back, withstanding every blow the Furies try to incur. At one point, Stompa manages to have Wonder Woman subdued, but Barda comes to the rescue via spear impalement. Eventually, Granny Goodness and the Furies manage to subdue Barda to their mercy while Wonder Woman pins down Mad Harriet as both sides are at a standoff. Diana manages to use her lasso and pull Gilotina away to allow Barda the space she needs to strike back against Lashina. Ultimately, our heroines manage to prevail against Granny Goodness and the dreaded Honor Guard.
Meanwhile, Batman tries to fly towards his destination, but a pair of Darkseid’s guards, each of whom is riding a Demon Dog, begins to give chase. He initially loses his pursuers by leading them towards a series of arcs and uses an exploding Batarang to bury them in the rubble.
Batman ultimately makes it to the armory building where the Hellspores are stored. Each one of those had the destructive capacity to blow open a hole into a planet’s core. However, one of the Demon Dogs manages to catch up, break through the wall, and entrap the Dark Knight in its mouth.
The two guards arrive to see lots of smoke billowing out from the Demon Dog’s mouth. The large amount of smoke pellets (I think) causes the giant beast to collapse in pain and release Batman. With the two guards at his mercy, Batman orders them to hand over their armor.
Meanwhile, Superman makes it to Darkseid’s Fortress with little trouble and demands for Kara’s release. She then emerges from behind the throne and confronts him. Superman tries to get her to come back to Earth, but Darkseid’s manipulation had already worked its way onto Kara.
As such, she starts to punch away and beat him up. Superman refuses to strike back against his cousin, allowing Darkseid’s lackey the opportunity to go in for the kill.
Kara then throws Kal through the throne room window and into a nearby fire pit. She proceeds to follow after him to finish him off, yet Superman manages to turn the tide with a mighty thunderclap.
Just then, a newly-armored Batman confronts Darkseid and threatens his planet with the Hellspores. Enraged that his own weapon has been encrypted and is being used against him, Darkseid viciously attacks the Dark Knight.
While in a choke hold, Batman gives an ultimatum. Darkseid releases his hold on Kara and leaves her alone forever so that the Hellspores can be disarmed, or else there’ll be a good chance of there being one less planet in the universe. In the end, Darkseid agrees to the terms. He’s even impressed that a human would go to destructive lengths to accomplish a goal and that if Superman or Wonder Woman was in this predicament, they would have folded.
Simultaneously, Kara gets smacked through the throne room window and hits the floor in defeat as Superman bested her off-screen. As he claims that he’ll hold Darkseid to his promise, Wonder Woman and Barda arrive to throw Granny Goodness to Darkseid’s feet while also proclaiming to hold him to his word. As such, Superman carries his cousin back to Earth as Batman disarms the Hellspores.
Kara then wakes up on Themyscira with Superman by her side. After she grieves for Lyla’s sacrificial death, Superman then comforts her by letting her know that Darkseid lives for manipulation and that it’s all behind her. He then tells her that once she’s fully recovered, he’ll take her to a place where she can just live her life.
Time passes as Kara heals her wounds. We then cut to one particular evening where she visits Harbinger’s memorial to pay final respects to her inaugural friend. After thanking Wonder Woman for her compassion and training, she then tells Batman that she now remembers her mother’s name: Alura. As such, she flies off with Superman to properly begin her life within man’s world.
We then cut to Clark taking his cousin to live at the Kent Family Farm in Smallville. There, she’ll be able to strive in the fresh air and wide-open spaces that this relaxing farm town has to offer.
Just before he can start to open the front door, Clark gets hit by a savage punch through said door that flies him back towards a tractor and crashes into it, causing the machine to explode. It turns out to be Darkseid who has come back to properly kill him. The Omega Beams effectively shred Superman of his civilian garbs as he wails on both him and his cousin.
Superman tries to fight back, but Darkseid easily grabs his neck and even clasps his other hand around Supes’ head just as he tries to use his Heat Vision. This causes Kal to get nullified by his own attack as Darkseid uppercuts him into space, with an additional boost from the Omega Beams for extra insurance.
Kara strikes back as she begins the final battle with the massive tyrant. Having to endure numerous hits from the Omega Beams alongside vicious punches and kicks, Kara is able to withstand the massive beatings as she proves her mettle against Darkseid. While the Kent Family Farm continues to get decimated by the onslaught, she’s managing to hold her own against the ruler of Apokolips.
However, Darkseid manages to rebound and severely smack Kara around until he ends with a massive blast of his Omega Beams.
Unbeknownst to him, he had tossed Superman up near the Sun. This allows the Man of Steel to absorb the warm rays and re-energize himself. He then strikes back hard at Darkseid and even entraps him in a swirling tornado of fast punches and swift Heat Vision. However, the Ruler of Apokolips ceases this assault by grabbing Superman’s neck and firing his Omega Beams at close range. Just then, a Boom Tube opens up behind him, allowing Superman to break free and fire his Heat Vision to send Darkseid through the portal and away from Earth.
After the fight, we find out that it was Kara who discovered the Mother Box and activated the portal. She even reprogrammed the Boom Tube’s coordinates so that Darkseid wouldn’t end up back on Apokolips, but instead be drifting through space. Kara states that she learned all of this while under the evil influence.
Just as she tells Superman that she’s been running away from her destiny and has now made a decision on what she’s going to do with her life, Ma & Pa Kent arrive back to see their farm decimated. Superman introduces them to Kara and they say that they’ll take of repairs.
Later on at Themyscira, Kara is officially introduced by his cousin to Wonder Woman, the Amazons, Big Barda, and Batman as Supergirl. She gets the approval of all in attendance, even Batman.
And so, the film ends with Supergirl taking to the skies alongside Superman as she embraces her new destiny among Earth’s protectors.
In some degrees, this adaption fixes some problems that the original source material had. While Kara mainly goes through the same character arc as the comic originally presents, here though, she gets a chance to fight back against Darkseid in order to prove her Amazonian training instead of being instantly incinerated by the Omega Beams after being introduced as Supergirl and just being resurrected later on (Why didn’t Harbinger get the same resurrection treatment in the comics?). Summer Glau turns in a decent performance here. While not entirely in flux, she manages to evoke the troubled teenage adjustment that she’s trying to make through.
In terms of Superman, his character arc is practically a close match to the source material. Discovering that he has a blood relative that’s alive makes him over-protective and not on his usual guard. Tim Daly brings his usual A-Game here, displaying the gambit of emotions that the situation calls for. From calm and kind to enraged and argumentative, he brings the fire that only Superman can show.
Batman isn’t as focused here since the story is more towards Supergirl and Superman, but Kevin Conroy effectively delivers the initial paranoia of someone claiming to be related to Superman. While his trust towards Kara is being built while we see her, the resourcefulness and tactics makes him enough of a presence within the story. Wonder Woman gets a better nod here than in the original source material because of a couple of differences: 1. Harbinger’s future vision of death explains why she needs to brings Kara to Paradise Island since it was shown early enough to justify her actions instead of just showing up out of the blue and demanding that Kara comes with her for no reason. 2. Leaving her and Batman out of the final fight just because Kara was incinerated by the Omega Beams helps out Kal-El’s cousin get a satisfying capstone to her character arc as well as there being a purpose for her Amazonian training. In terms of Big Barda, she’s mostly in line with how she was portrayed in the original story. Other than changing the fact that she instantly agrees to help DC’s Trinity get to Apokolips, she mainly shares a fight scene with Wonder Woman and helps defeat the Female Furies. Despite Mister Miracle’s costume hanging up with the arsenal, she never mentions her husband one iota.
With Harbinger, she’s effective in giving Kara someone to relate to. By that, their friendship is able to boost the confidence of the Kyptonian cousin. The aforementioned vision scene helps to justify helping Wonder Woman try to help Kara onto Paradise Island. Also, Kara uses Lyla’s sacrificial death as a means to better herself in the future. In the end, Rachel Quaintance helps make Harbinger effective in the limited time she’s on screen.
Finally, our main villain. Andre Braugher does an admirable job in his portayal of Darkseid. While initially ordering Granny Goodness to bring Kara to him, he ultimately goes and gets her himself (What was the point of ordering Granny Goodness? A head-scratching moment here and the source material). The Smallville sneak attack is cleaver in the fact that he doesn’t take defeat easily. While not as powerful a voice as Michael Ironside had in the animated series, Braugher has enough of a command to make it believable.
The fight scenes for the most part are good. However, the only one that bugs me is during the rescue mission on Apokolips. While the scene of Wonder Woman and Big Barda swapping blows with the Female Furies are nice, the rescue and Batman’s chase had make it somewhat haphazard. Superman hardly faces any threat en route to Darkseid’s Fortress (except for a small squadron of cronies that literally throw themselves at Supes and explode on impact) and his scenes are mostly just drive-by.
Overall, it’s enjoyable enough to watch. There’s no denying that this film has faults ranging from a scene or two that doesn’t really go anywhere to a couple of moments that just puzzle the viewer, but just like Batman: Under The Red Hood, it’s definitely an improvement over the source material in that some things have been changed to make the story better. The animation is mainly nice, the pacing is slightly more action heavy yet good, and Kara Zor-El helps drive this film alongside Superman. In the end, it’s not the best entry of the series, but it shouldn’t be shunned from viewing.
Next Time: Let us step outside the main DC Universe and get a fresh take on our favorite Man of Steel. With time and his longtime nemesis bearing down on him, he must make the ultimate difference to the world. Come back next time as we dig into “All-Star Superman”.
Superman (created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster), Batman (created by by Bob Kane and Bill Finger), Wonder Woman (created by William Moulton Marston), Darkseid & The New Gods (created by Jack Kirby), & Supergirl/Kara Zor-El (created by Otto Binder & Al Plastino) are owned by DC Comics.