It's easy for superhero movies to get tangled up in their own dizzying realities, be it magic, mutants, robots, aliens, or plain old mad science. There can never be a single overarching philosophy because superhero comics have all absorbed each other over the decades. If you keep this big picture in mind it tends to minimize the struggle of weaker superheroes when Superman could show up at any minute and just literally blow the villain away.
One of those challenges is time travel. Sci-fi authors have railed against this challenge -- that time travel is actually interdimensional travel, and that whenever anyone travels backwards through time, they are in fact creating a new reality. By this logic, it's not possible to change the future of your old past -- you just create new ones.
That suits the superhero genre just fine though, because it neatly explains why there are so many alternate dimensions. This can potentially go on for infinity, particularly if there are a lot of time traveling villains messing with the timeline.
"Crisis on Two Earths" feels like those comic book authors finally got fed up with the whole concept. There has to be only one Earth where everything started, right? And if there are infinite realities, then there are infinite opportunities to mess up the other universes. And if that's true, well we all know Batman (William Baldwin) would be the one to do it.
In this new alternate reality he's Owlman (James Woods), and the only surviving hero fighting back is a "good" Lex Luthor (Chris Noth). It's basically a bizarro version of the DC heroes we know and love, with the gloves off. Owlman is playing for keeps -- he convinces the other villains he wants to hold Earth's governments hostage with a bomb, but in reality it's a dimensional bomb that will wipe reality off the map.
There's some great writing and acting here, fleshing out many well-worn characters with their own intricate back stories. But the acting burden is shouldered most between Batman and Owlman, who demonstrate just what it means to take an ethos to an extreme. In the end, once Owlman realizes that he essentially lives in a comic book universe, he comes to the cold but logical conclusion that he should blow it all up.
Why? "Because it's the only thing that matters."
He's right. The futility of heroes means fighting in spite of that knowledge. It's heavy stuff for a cartoon about masked crimefighters in space.
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