A spaceship crash lands in Gotham City harbour and naturally draws the attention of Batman (Kevin Conroy). While he investigates a beautiful blonde teenage girl escapes from the craft, stumbling into a series of misadventures with her newly discovered superpowers. Superman (Tim Daly) promptly pacifies the frightened, disoriented girl whom he discovers is another refugee from his home planet Krypton. None other than his cousin Kara (Summer Glau)! As Kara gradually acclimatizes to Metropolis and planet Earth, Superman tries to help her fit in and ease Batman's suspicions. Unaware that far away on desolate planet Apokolips, its evil overlord Darkseid (Andre Braugher) is bent on capturing this new Kyrptonian powerhouse to be his ultimate weapon.
Superman/Batman: Apocalypse adapts the 2004 comic book written by Jeph Loeb and drawn by Michael Turner that finally brought the original Supergirl, Kara Zor-El, back to the DC universe after an absence of almost twenty years. Now sporting a va-va-voom redesign courtesy of cheesecake specialist Turner. High on eye-catching, page-turning spectacle if occasionally low on sense, Loeb and Turner's original comic has been likened by some to a Michael Bay movie. Supervised with flair by seasoned DC animated universe hand Lauren Montgomery, who also made a solid Wonder Woman (2009) adaptation, the film ably recreates all the big flashy set-pieces present in the source material. You get to see Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman (Susan Eisenberg) fight an entire army of Doomsdays alongside the Amazons on Paradise Island a.k.a. Themyscira. Then infiltrate Apokolips together with Jack Kirby created cult favourite (and co-star of Superman's sex tape... seriously, that story is in continuity, look it up!) Big Barda (Julianne Grossman) where Batman stares down Darkseid. Cool, right?
Loeb's plot reads, somewhat amusingly, like a father's worst nightmare: innocent teen girl falls in with the wrong crowd, starts wearing black then finally turns on her family. Until strong paternal and maternal figures guide her back onto the right path. While that sounds trite in concept, Loeb fashions it into a rousing superhero adventure with exciting and emotional moments that genuinely resonate. And crucially, underline Supergirl as an invaluable facet of the DC universe. Under the capable supervision of veteran voice director Andrea Romano (who also voices a handful of supporting roles) the voice acting is solid across the board. Fan-boy favourite Summer Glau lends depth and ably captures the youthful exuberance, frustration and yearning of an inexperienced, disorientated yet hopeful Supergirl. Meanwhile Tim Daly is a pitch perfect Superman and Kevin Conroy simply IS Batman at this point. In an inspired bit of casting you also get Ed Asner as Granny Goodness! Only Andre Braugher lacks presence as Darkseid. Braugher is a very fine actor. Yet instead of the most imposing despot of the DC universe sounds merely like himself.
Almost a panel by panel recreation of the source material, the animation is slick and evocative. Even if it can't quite capture the dynamism of Turner's art. The script, penned by Tab Murphy, retains a handful of niggling flaws present in the original: the heroes are constantly in each other's faces, the story is essentially a string of fights. Yet it improves on the original in some aspects. Most notably the third act twist which fittingly gives Kara much more agency.