Review by J.T. Johnson
DIRECTORS: Sam Liu, James Tucker
WRITER: Peter J. Tomasi
MUSIC: Frederik Wiedmann
In 1993, DC Comics did the unthinkable and killed off Superman, the world’s first real superhero. The graphic novel that went on to collect the issues for the storyline has become the best selling graphic novel of all time. The story is also one that DC can’t seem to get away from over the past 24 years since the story’s release.
“Superman: Doomsday” was another animated film that came out in 2007 and adapted the entire death and return of the Man of Steel. It wasn’t the worst movie in the world, but at 77 minutes it was a rushed affair and easily forgettable. There was also an attempt to adapt the story as a subplot in the lackluster “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice”.
Now, DC has come back to adapt the story yet again for their DC Animated Universe. Thankfully, they’ve finally done the source material justice while also adapting the story to fit into their current line of animated movies.
Unlike the live-action films, DC has set up a universe in animated form where we’ve learned to care for these characters. The Justice League has been firmly established and Clark has a firm relationship with the other characters and therefore, we feel the impact of the story. Despite that Superman’s death has been covered extensively, this one is justified thanks to getting done right this time.
In the film, a force from space crashes into the ocean and a mysterious creature emerges, taking out everything in its path from Atlanteans to police officers. Eventually, the Justice League emerges and they are also defeated by this seemingly unstoppable monstrosity that becomes known as Doomsday. The only person on Earth that may be able to stop the beast is the Man of Steel himself.
Before the Justice League and Superman take on the monster, though, it is established that as Clark Kent, Superman has begun a relationship with Lois Lane. Their relationship is still new and at the beginning, Lois doesn’t even know that Clark is Superman yet. Clark is unsure if he wants to bring Lois into his dangerous world, but he does finally manage to tell her just before Doomsday attacks, making their doomed love story even more tragic than it was in the comics.
The action is solid throughout and watching everyone from the Justice League to Superman’s ultimate battle with Doomsday kept me on the edge of my seat. I was very impressed with the animation though I’m not really surprised by this due to the fact that DC has pretty much owned the realm of animation for years.
The voice cast, which consists of those who’ve voiced the characters since “Justice League: War”, is pretty solid. My only beef with this film was the one-note characterization for Lex Luthor. There is no subtlety to the character’s motivations and Rainn Wilson’s voice performance is way too over-the-top.
On one last note, another improvement that DC made with this adaptation is that they took out the “Reign of the Supermen” arc that brought Superman back from the dead. Instead, this film sets up that story throughout the movie and at the end. That part of the story is set to be released early next year and as a fan of that particular storyline, I’m glad that DC is giving the story its own movie.
Despite that small issue with Wilson’s voice performance and Lex’s overall characterization, this may very well be my favorite of the DC animated films that I’ve watched so far. The story is spot on while staying true to the world that DC has set up through their animated films. If you’ve enjoyed the previous films or if your just a fan of the source material, then you will enjoy “The Death of Superman” before they release “Reign of the Supermen” next year.