Being someone who owns every DC Universe animated movie, I can certainly remember when the line kicked off in 2007 with Superman: Doomsday. To this day, I love that one through and through, though I’m able to understand the most common complaint aimed in its direction: the flick just didn’t adhere to the source material enough.
If you’re unfamiliar with the situation, I’ll give you the gist of it. Basically, the filmmakers condensed Big Blue’s demise and resurrection into one picture, therefore it honored the comic book on which it was based, yet was largely an original story. Fortunate for the sticklers out there, The Death of Superman and its eventual followup, Reign of the Supermen, look to rectify all that.
Truth be told, it’s not exactly the strict adaptation that you yourself may be looking for, but what this epic two-parter will do is explore the tale in a way that it can truly breathe. In other words, don’t expect for something akin to Batman: Year One or The Dark Knight Returns, but rather, Teen Titans: The Judas Contract, if that makes sense.
To elaborate a little more, know that you’ll get a wild brawl involving Supes (Jerry O’Connell) and Doomsday in the third act, but the movie has been retrofitted in order to align with the New 52-inspired line that began with Justice League: War in 2014. Hey, even the most stubborn of the purists out there will hopefully prefer seeing A-listers such as Batman (Jason O’Mara), Wonder Woman (Rosario Dawson) and Green Lantern (Nathan Fillion) backing up the headliner, as opposed to the C-listers that populated the team at the time the comic was published. Plus, I’m sticking to my guns by saying this particular costume worn by the Last Son of Krypton lends itself well to animation.
Getting back to the idea of the narrative having the space to stretch its legs, this offering allows you to see how the Boy Scout affects those around him. Whether it be Lois Lane (Rebecca Romijn), the Kents, or the people of Earth as a whole, you really get a sense of the difference this guy has made. That way, when he does meet his end, it counts – and you’ll feel it, too.
Speaking of Lois, I was wondering how the creative team were going to handle her relationship with Clark Kent/Superman, especially when they hadn’t previously been romantically linked in this continuity. Luckily, that was cleared up when it was revealed that Superman and Wonder Woman are no longer a couple, therefore he’s obviously free to dip his pen in the company ink.
Throughout your viewing experience, you’ll notice that Lois and Clark are really the core of the piece, as that’s where most of the emotion is found. Really, it’s there from the first time they share a scene right up until the latter dies from wounds inflicted by Doomsday.
Funny enough, the Superman-Lex Luthor dynamic was something that really hadn’t been fleshed out since WB Animation decided to go the way of the New 52, but Rainn Wilson’s performance as one of DC’s greatest villains will force you to overlook that detail. Being a huge fan of Luthor myself, I was proud to see Wilson make the character the condescending, narcissistic dick that he should be. Hell, even when his nemesis dies by the hand of another, Lex still finds a way to make it all about him.
Even though I mentioned it earlier, you may still have some questions regarding the big showdown involving the two titans. Rest assured that the fight is plotted out in exciting new ways, with the respective deathblows differing from the comic and Superman: Dooomsday. I’d go as far to say that you could watch both animated films and Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, and come away with three different experiences.
When it comes to the bonus content, you’re going to want to pay attention because there is indeed a sneak peek at Reign of the Supermen, which will, in fact, bring in the likes of Steel, Cyborg Superman, Superboy and the Eradicator. There’s also a decent sized featurette called “Death of Superman: The Brawl That Topped Them All,” but I’m not sure if that’s worth much more than one viewing.
Something else I’d like to mention about the supplemental material is that the two-part series finale to Legion of Super Heroes, “Dark Victory,” can also be found on the Blu-ray. In my opinion, that show has often been overlooked and underappreciated, so it’s nice to see it getting some recognition here.
As this review comes to a close, you may be wondering how I think this offering compares to Superman: Doomsday, and that’s harder to discuss than I thought it’d be. To be honest, both have their merits because, while the movie I just mentioned told a wonderful, complete story, The Death of Superman is only half of a grander tale yet to be concluded. Even so, this new kid on the block may prove itself to be my favorite animated film featuring the Man of Steel – given time, of course.
Though not the first adaptation of the material, The Death of Superman firmly cements itself as being one of Big Blue's finest animated outings.