By Nick Kazden
As the new DC Animated universe ramps into gear, Death of Superman, the 11th film in the new timeline, is here to mess everything up for the Justice League. Even though fans already saw Superman die in Superman:Doomsday (and even more recently in Batman V. Superman), the character once again meets his match here in a film that sees the hero dying defending Metropolis. A brutal and gorgeously animated film, Death of Superman delivers a personal story that hits at the character’s core and reiterates why he’s so important to the DCU.
Jerry O’Connell does a good job returning to the role of Superman. The character is a positive force and it’s clear that he wants the best for everyone. His relationship with Lois, played by Rebecca Romijn, is starting to heat up but it’s also tearing him apart. Clark is tired of keeping secrets, but he’s also scared to let her in and endanger Lois due to the hectiness of his life. Even as he faces a world-threatening monster, Superman still has human challenges that any of us can relate to. It’s hard to introduce your significant other to your parents, it’s even harder when your Superman.
Written by Pete Tomasi, who is no stranger to the character after writing Superman and Super Sons at DC Comics, the film does a good job breaking down Superman. He may put on an enigma of being this godly being, but he’s a normal person who wants to be loved, Some of the best moments of this movie are small, intimate scenes where Clark and Lois are kissing in the closet or Superman and Wonder Woman are chatting because it shows just how human all these characters are.
This may be the most violent DC animated movie I’ve ever seen. Directors Jake Castorena and Sam Liu have no problem showing just how bloody a confrontation with this beast would be and do a good job presenting the huge stakes at hand with this epic fight. Simply put, Doomsday is a brutal killing machine. While Lex Luthor may be driven by ego, Doomsday is a thoughtless brute who just wants to kill. He’s seemingly a prisoner on an asteroid, but he quickly makes his mark on the world and tears through the Justice League. The animation does a good job showing him grow and adapt as new challenges present themselves. He may be thoughtless, but he has an instinct that drives him to survive and dominate everything around.
The fact that the film is part of a larger DC universe is as much of a hindrance as it is an advantage. There are a lot of emotional beats that completely focus on Superman, but every member of the Justice League is given some substance here in a way that somewhat detracts from the experience as a stand alone film. It’s clear there are a lot of story ideas being set up for future films, potentially even a political run from Lex Luthor, that make it harder to enjoy Death of Superman by itself. The sense of community and friendship among the League members that was lacking in earlier movies as the characters got to know each other in this new universe is now gone and one of the best aspects of this movie is seeing them all interact comfortably and honestly with one another. Batman would have never told his teammates that he had to take his son to parent teacher conferences in Justice League: War, but he’s since opened up to the idea of letting them into his life in a more serious way.
Overall it’s a decent movie. Long-term DC fans are going to love it for the sense of community among the characters, and action movie lovers will appreciate how brutal things get here. It’s clear that Tomasi loves and understands Superman, and the script does a great job showing just how impactful the character can be to people’s life in various ways. It’s not the best DC movie, but it’s certainly not the worst, and I’m excited to see where Reign of the Supermen takes things next.
The Beat Staff is an elite group of trained ninjas.