Short answer – the original comic is better than the movie however this is still very very good.
(and hey, if you click that picture above it will take you right to Amazon, where you can order the movie)
In summary, Superman meets the Elite -a group of heroes who have no problem taking things too far in their version of “justice”.
The original story was a response to all of the anti heroes populating comics then and now. So many characters were Extreme or Wild or Blood or whatever other X-treme title you wanted to hear. In an age of blood and death what room or purpose is there for Superman? Its a great story.
While some points of the story came across better in the comic book the fact is this story was only one issue. The movie gets to expand on the characters. Manchester Black is still an asshole, but a much more well rounded one. His sister, who appeared later in the comics, carries a larger impact in this story.
Black gets an origin story, although we cant be sure how trustworthy his words actually are. Coldcast doesn’t get much, but Hat and Menagerie are more interesting in the movie than I ever found them to be on the page (again, not that they have had many pages dedicated to them).
In fact if anyone gets a raw deal in the movie, its Superman. The Elite are cool. They looks cool, they exude sex, they (kind of) smoke, they have tattoos, they have accents. If the Elite were an actual team and not stand ins to make a point, it could be a best selling book. However, the point is not to debate whether or not they are cool, the point is to compare them to Superman.
In that comparison Superman is supposed to look like an icon for us all to look up to. Its easy to be evil, its easy to kill. The tough thing is to hold back and stay true to your own moral code. Superman exposes the flaws in the Elite’s logic. That level of violence is frightening. Especially when it is coming from a god. Superman uses his speed and smarts to make it appear he has killed off the Elite, when in reality all are merely defeated. Itsa great lesson.
The problem is, Superman looks amazing when he is “pretending” to give in to the Elite’s way. Some of the greatest Superman moments are the ones in which he cuts loose.
Superman tells Mongol to burn. He sends the evil Kryptonians to the Phantom Zone. The times when Superman goes against his usual MO and doesn’t hold back are also some of the most memorable and beloved Superman stories of all time.
Its a fine movie, and a worthy addition to your DC movie universe library. However, the message falls short.
“Kick their self righteous asses to kingdom come”
“magic trumps a giant key everytime”
“Is that Superman?” :”Not anymore”