The Death of Superman – 4 out of 5
When Superman died in the early 90s in the comics, it blew my damn mind. Being a comic geek, I’m no stranger to seeing beloved characters dying but nothing remains dead in this fictional world but seeing the Big Blue Boy Scout meet his end somehow felt very different. Granted, Superman did make his predictable return but I'll never forget that image of Lois cradling a dead Superman in her arms after an epic battle against the monster Doomsday. Since then, DC has shown us this death in an animated form with the amazing Superman: Doomsday and then in live-action format in Batman v Superman. Well, DC decided to pull from this well again and show Superman die at the hands of Doomsday all over again but this time it is for their cohesive animated universe. Despite the fact I have seen him die so many times (including reading the comic over and over again) this new adaptation doesn’t feel like a re-tread and it might be one of the more emotional animated films DC and Warner Bros. has developed.
|He's just hanging his cape out to dry, right? RIGHT?!?|
As Superman (Jerry O’Connell) remains a hero to the citizens of Metropolis and the world, he is loathed by Lex Luthor (Rainn Wilson). While Luthor secretly works on ways to rid the world of what he perceives as an “alien menace,” Superman’s alter-ego; Clark Kent, struggles with his relationship with Lois Lane (Rebecca Romijn). As he reveals his true self to Lane, a meteorite appears through a boomtube and crash into the ocean. Inside the meteor lives an unstoppable monster called Doomsday and it escapes its prison and weaves a path of destruction towards Metropolis. The Justice League; Batman (Jason O'Mara), Wonder Woman (Rosario Dawson), Green Lantern (Nathan Fillion), The Flash (Christopher Gorham), Aquaman (Matt Lanter), Cyborg (Shemar Moore), Martian Manhunter (Nyambi Nyambi) and Hawkman, attempt to stop the creature but are easily defeated. It’s now up to Superman to take on this raw form of anger and power but it will take everything within the hero to stop it.
|Does he get his eye beams from the same dimension that Cyclops gets his?|
(Google it, seriously)
|A nice little nod and wink to the comic with Lex Luthor|
in that ridiculous wig and chinstrap beard. Also, I gotta
say that Rainn Wilson was a great Luthor.
The Death of Superman could have easily been an exhausted ride since we already seen this story adapted before—although not as exhausting as the number of times we’ve had to see Thomas and Martha Wayne (Martha?!? Why did you say that name?) get gunned down. I’ve seen them die so many times that the trauma almost makes me want to become Batman myself. However, the film is able to keep the familiar story fresh enough as it takes from both the comics, the previous animated adaptation and the live-action DCEU feature and mashes them all up into a story that fits with this New 52 inspired animated universe. It’s exciting, action-packed and even works the emotional level perfectly in order to create a story that stands out among the rest of the animated library.
|Punch Doomsday in the crotch, Supes!!!|
On the weaker side of things, this film does have some problems with its character animations. Too often characters and their facial reactions are very static and it’s hard to connect emotionally with them. Yes, I did say this was the most emotional of the DC animated films but it only accomplishes this towards the end of the feature and this is mostly done thanks to the score and the story’s ending. Most of the time, the characters either have blank looks or fighting faces. There isn’t much nuance to the character animations and this is something I’m really starting to notice in DC’s animated films. Finally, and this was a complaint in my last DC animated film review, character action and environments don’t seem to be moving at the same pace. For example, characters will be moving but the background and surrounding environments (like the floor) seem to be moving differently from them and the imbalance makes the animation look awkward. Ultimately, this imbalance and lack of emoting from the cartoon characters is easy to overlook but not impossible to ignore.
|For context, Lois here is supposed to be distraught but looks bored.|
This shaky quality is just a minor speed bump in The Death of Superman. I really liked the adjustments made to the story so that it fits with the current continuity. The voice acting is fantastic and I especially felt that Jerry O’Connell was doing a tremendous job as Superman. Finally, the action is huge and exciting as hell. They really captured the power that both Superman and Doomsday have. Thankfully, DC didn’t bother to include some of their more problematic issues like their underlying sexism and I’m glad they weren’t trying to force an R-rating—instead, they just worked on telling a good story. Granted, this film isn’t as cinematic or as dynamic as Superman: Doomsday and it feels really flat when the two are compared but as the great battle between hero and villain progresses, the film starts to take some chances and really push the way they are showcasing the fight. Overall, The Death of Superman is able to tell the iconic comic storyline and tell it in a new way that doesn’t feel too different but doesn’t feel too similar either.