Featured Screen Shot
Luthor: <chuckling> What makes you think you can kill Superman when you can’t even handle a mere mortal in a Halloween costume.
Joker: <menacingly> There is nothing mere about “Bat-mortal”.
Batman: <menacingly> Where’s the Joker?
Bingo: Who knows! Making Ha Ha with Harley Quinn! Urk. I don’t know. Honest! I never went back after he muscled in, I don’t want anything to do with that clown.
Superman: That’s enough. I think you got your answer.
Synopsis "World's Finest Part One"
It’s a dark and stormy night as an antiques shop owner closes up. A beautiful young-woman stops him from closing the door and tells him “Hang on their Clyde!” She’s Harley Quinn, the Joker’s girl, and this is Gotham City. Moments later the poor man is lying on the floor, convulsing with laughter from the Joker’s gas, and the Joker himself is prowling around the shop. He spies a very heavy carved statue, “the Laughing Dragon”, which he rips from its base and gives to Harley to carry.
The word on the streets is that the Joker is desperate for cash so the police are surprised that he only took the statue. However, the Batman reminds them that “things are never what they seem with the Joker.” Batman analyses a fragment of the statute in the Batcave and discovers that it is emitting a type of low-level of radiation. The Dragon’s owners have a history of dying mysteriously proving that continued exposure to the radiation is lethal. Batman then quips to Alfred that “Isn’t Bruce Wayne about due for a trip to Metropolis?”
Lois Lane is with the White House press corps on-board Air Force One when it is hijacked by a group of terrorists. Their leader panics when he recognises her as “the one Superman always saves!?” Right on que Superman spins the plane like a laundry machines leaving the strapped in passengers unharmed, but throwing the unstrapped-in terrorists around. Afterwards Lois sheepishly asks Superman if he’d like to meet her socially for once, but their conversation is interrupted by an emergency in the city.
The next day as Lex Luthor is heading to work he discovers that his normally efficient driver Mercy has been replaced by the less controlled, but more enthusiastic Harley Quinn. She takes him to a meeting with the Joker. Luthor blanks the Joker’s banter until the clown makes the connection that they both face an “over grown bully in long underwear”. The Joker’s offer to kill Superman for one billion dollars has amused Lex until he sees the Jade Dragon (Joker: “solid kryptonite!”). Lex agrees to the Joker’s request on the conduction that it can’t be traced to him.
Bruce Wayne’s first day in Metropolis is something of a whirlwind. He’s officially there to review the capabilities of a joint business venture with Lex Luthor (the Wayne-Lex T7, an autonomous six-legged robot that has the ability to crawl spider-like over almost any terrain). Wayne’s arrival at a private Lexcorp Airfield is met by the usual Press throng. Much to Clark Kent’s dismay Lois describes Wayne as “absolutely gorgeous” and becomes uncharacteristic coy around the billionaire playboy. Wayne then asks her to dinner before leaving for his meeting with Lex Luthor.
At Lexcorp’s test facility Bruce Wayen and Lex Luthor watch the T7 clamber up a canyon wall and locate a test object. Both men are impressed with the tests, but they disagree on the T7′s potential applications. Lex had been canvassing the Pentagon’s opinion on a weaponised version, but Wayne flatly refused to allow its development. He tells Lex that “I don’t like guns.” That evening, Bruce Wayne meets Lois Lane at an expensive roof top restaurant. He grills her on how she contacts Superman, but she asks to change the subject. Bruce then sweeps her onto the dance floor.
Even later that night Superman (as Clark Kent) and Batman (in costume) are separately searching for the Joker’s whereabouts. The Joker gased a mafiso called Cesaer Carlini, dumped him in the trash, and then took over his gang. The police find Carlini and it’s clear to Dan Turpin and Superman that the Joker has announced his arrival in town. Batman follows his own leads by tracking down one of Carlini’s employees, an old face from Gotham City called Bingo, to the Rockers Nightclub. Batman throws his weight around panicing the clubbers. Bingo doesn’t know anything, but the ruckus is loud enough to attract Superman’s attention.
The two costumed alpha-males instantly dislike each other. Batman shows off by judo throwing Superman, but get body slammed into the wall as Superman makes his own point. Superman’s opinion of the Batman doesn’t improve after he uses his x-ray vision to find out that he’s really Bruce Wayne (the man currently romancing Lois). Superman tell’s Batman “I won’t have vigilantism in my town”, but the Batman pulls a trump card by showing Superman the sliver kryptonite he found at the antiques shop. Even that small amount is enough to cause Superman to stagger. The Batman warns him that the Joker has twenty-pounds of it and then vanishes while Superman is distracted.
Superman returns to Clark Kent’s apartment. He’s just about to go to bed when Lois Lane calls him to say that she’ll be in late to work tomorrow morning as she’s having breakfast with Bruce Wayne. Clark doesn’t approve, but as they talk he notices a tracking device that the Batman had attached to his cape. After Lois hangs up Clark uses his telescopic vision to find the Batman watching him from a distant rooftop. He smiles and waves to Clark acknowledging that they now know each other’s secret identities. A visibly-annoyed Clark mutters “touché” as he crushes the tracking device.
I saw this story first when it was released on VHS as the Superman-Batman Movie – I distinctly remember the banter and interplay between the characters. This first part has so much to do. Not only does it have to introduce the guest-stars from another series, but it also has to introduce the an entirely new look for those guest-stars. For the most part this happens effortlessly. Maybe it’s because I’ve gotten use to the New Adventures Batman from the Justice League, but his presence seems very natural alongside Superman. I’m not so keen on the Bruce Wayne re-design (maybe because he was rarely used in the Justice League).
Luckily all this shinny-new Batness doesn’t displace Superman’s world from his own cartoon. If Clark does takes a back seat to anybody it’s Lois Lane. On the commentary the producers talked about amping up Batman’s physicality compared to his own show, but I think the entire story has found a tone that allows most situations to play broader than they would in a standalone episode of either series. At lot of that is necessary to accommodate a characters like the Joker and Harley Quinn, but it also plays out in the genre awareness shown by the terrorist leader when he figures out who Lois Lane is.
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