The Death of Superman – Review


It’s a tradition round here that I review all the DC animated films that come out every year and for the fourth year in a row I decided to finish off that selection. This year has been a rather mixed bag with my reviews of Batman: Gotham and Suicide Squad: hell to pay being prime examples of this.

As usual every year we have to get back to the main story line and DC announced that this would storyline would be an adaptation of The Death of Superman story line, which would be told in two movies. This is rather significant considering the very first of the DC’s animated films Superman Doomsday was already an adaptation of this story line. Superman Doomsday is not a great movie if I’m honest, it’s not very well done as a whole and it’s just a really confusing mess of a film. In fact, one of the decisions already to split the original storyline which was written by Dan Jurgens, into two movies is a massive improvement considering that people forget not, but this storyline was really long. We like to think now that superman came back really quickly, but he was dead for quite a long time in the comics. DC might bring back their characters from the dead, but unlike Marvel they can stay dead for quite a while. Once again Sam Liu is in the director’s chair, though this time he is joined on the project by a co-director, in this case it is Jake Castorena, who has done previous television work, as well as working in the art department for several films and TV series and has directed episodes of Batman Unlimited and the recent Justice League Action, which also wrapped up earlier this year.

The Death of Superman is essentially what you expect. It’s a build up to and the combination of Superman’s climatic battle with Doomsday, there’s really no reason to go into too much of a plot synopsis. The only difference is this time the Justice League is more incorporated into the storyline, which initially to me seemed like a bad decision since I expected it would be like The Throne of Atlantis movie where they took what was essentially an aqua man story and had the Justice League sort of turn up and be well kind of in the way. The thing is, this time they actually get this idea right. This is essentially a Superman story. It is mainly about him deciding whether or not he’s going to reveal his identity to Lois Lane, does he fear bringing her into the mix. This film does what Man of Steel and Batman v Superman failed to do, it gives Superman humanity. The one thing Zac Sneider has never got about Superman is the fact that he’s very human as a concept. In this film we definitely see much of it, we see a conversation with his parents, his relationship with Lois, and even in the sense of just the people he meets on the street. There is an old sailor that’s in the film who becomes a minor supporting character who is just a fan of Superman, but he plays a bigger role later in the film to truly advertise what effect Superman has on the community. The film also adds Lex Luthor to the mix, who once again, this time they get it right. While his character is a bit whiney they do show what a cold and devious character he truly is. Unfortunately, he is not played by Steve Bloom anymore and this time is voiced by Rainn Wilson who played Dwight in the American version of The Office, and is horribly miss cast. No offence to Rainn Wilson he’s a genuinely good actor and I have really enjoyed him in several films but he does not have the right voice, despite the fact he has a very good script, he does not have the right voice to pull it off, and it’s a shame because Rainn is really trying his hardest in this role.

I definitely cannot say the same for Superman, now that he’s finally given the good reigns to work with he really pulls it off. Superman in this movie is very much the character we deserve, Jerry O’Conner really brings a tonne to it. This is also backed up by Rebecca Romijn as Lois Lane who once again does a really good job with the character. This is also backed up by several minor roles from the other characters, with Rosario Dawson once again reprising her role as Wonder Woman, and they actually kind of got Wonder Woman’s character right for once and holy crap, it’s good to have a good Wonder Woman back in the universe.

Christopher Gorham is The Flash, Matt Lanter again as Aquaman and Jason O’Mara is still really good as Batman as well as perfect casting with Nathan Fillion as Green Lantern. There is a lot here to really like. Here’s the thing, there’s a tonne of characters in this one and admittedly a bunch of them are kind of wasted.

Going into this you know there is only going to be so many outcomes with this film, so how do you do a well-known storyline with a well-known outcome and do it well. I actually watched a recent Mitch Ben post on Solo a Star Wars film, which I would highly recommend watching since its really good, but he actually made a point on Apollo 13, trust me it does relate to the casting of Ron Howard as the director of that film, and in that he questioned how you do this type of idea of a jeopardy and in the case of Apollo 13, you have to just show how screwed they were. That’s where the jeopardy comes from. You know they’re going to make it out alive, but if you really want the attention just to show how bad it really was. This is what Death of Superman does really well. We see the Justice League go all out on Doomsday, who by the way has a much cooler design than his Batman V Superman counterpart. That’s the thing, that proves how necessary Superman is. They have to give it their all, and it’s still not good enough. That’s how you emphasise an action scene.

I asked myself the question of would I care this much of this version of Superman, considering he hasn’t been that defined in the other films. This continuity of the DC animated films has only been going on since Justice League War came out, all the way back in 2014. In that time, we haven’t had a single solo Superman film, he’s only been a character in the Justice League films. Even then, not a big part in some of those films, we got a very ill defined character, so this film has to find more about him and make us care about him. The film succeeds tremendously in that factor. I was wondering how the hell they managed to get it right this time compared to other films. Then I saw that Peter Tomasi was writing the script, the guy behind son of Superman, one of the best story lines to come out in years and pretty much revitalise that character all over again. Yeah, he writes the script for this. Once again, he does a fantastic job. I was kind of disappointed that he’s no longer writing Superman anymore which is a shame, but if it was to do this film, at least he done a damn good job. I’m kind of glad he’s coming back to do the script for the next part.

The action scenes are once again shot really well, and again put the shame the version done in Batman V Superman since that film does not do a good job, despite the fact it’s the same set up that this movie had.

The Death of Superman in a nutshell is the film I really wanted, I didn’t think it was going to work out really well. This has been one of the most surprising DC animated films for a few years and I’m really stoked that the DC anime films are getting good again.

You can chuck it to a lot of the new direction on the film, including Sam Liu and Jake Castorena but I really give it to the excellent script which has been written by Peter Tomasi who really seems to get Superman as a character and does not only him but his side cast really well.
The Death of Superman really stands out, and that’s saying a lot considering the calibre of superhero films this year, it gives me hope of the DC anime universe going into next year.
The story line obviously ends with a set up for part 2 which will be coming out next year with the film The Reign of the Supermen. DC anime universe will of course be back again next year with two more films, this time being Batman Hush and Justice League Versus The Fatal Five. I am way more excited about these films than anything else DC is bringing out, so it’s good to know we are getting good films from DC in the animation department, despite the fact that live action films are not living up to the standard.
So, I’ve now done a DC character film, now to do a Marvel character film. Next week I review Venom. With all that being said hope you’ve enjoyed reading it as much as I’ve enjoyed writing it.
Calvin – Nerd Consultant

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