Last night I had a special opportunity to watch DC’s latest animated films in cinema. Back to Back. The Death of Superman and the follow up, Reign of the Supermen. In terms of DC’s animated films, I haven’t actually watched many of them. From memory I can remember Flashpoint Paradox, Killing Joke, Hell to Pay, Gotham by Gaslight, and The Dark Knight Returns. So it was a really cool experience. I thought I would just share my thoughts with my fellow DC fans.
While I’m sure everyone is familiar with the Superman: Doomsday story, here is just a little taste of what happens. Clark and Lois are in a nice relationship but his massive secret is causing some tension between the two. Meanwhile, an astronaut team under Hank Henshaw are bewildered by the appearance of a meteorite that travels through a wormhole that then destroys the space station and crashes in the Atlantic Ocean, unleashing Doomsday. Pretty sure you can guess what happens next.
Despite being a big fan of the Doomsday story, I was actually unaware of what happened next, so the sequel was filled with a lot more surprises, whereas The Death of Superman does what it says on the tin. After the Man of Steel’s tragic death, a bunch of different heroes appear claiming to be the next Superman. We have Superboy, Steel, Cyborg Superman and Eradicator. While Lois tries to find out the truth behind these Supermen, an evil plot rises that endangers the Justice League and the fate of the world.
As a huge animation fan, whether it’s anime, Disney, or Dreamworks, I love well crafted fight scenes. Both films execute their fight scenes brilliantly. They’re surprisingly fluent and well choreographed. The Doomsday fight in particular is just fantastic. You really get the feeling that these 2 machines are going all out on each other. Even some of the damage that Doomsday inflicts is enough so make you wince slightly. Despite the outcome being fairly obvious, I still actually felt a sense of urgency during the fight since I wasn’t quite sure when it was going to end, because it went on and on. Not in a bad way, of course, it was epic. For the sequel, it was really cool seeing multiple Supermen fight. Superboy vs Steel vs Eradicator was a favourite of mine I think. While it wasn’t a fight to the death, there were plenty of cool moments that were well animated. The shattering of thousands of windows, the sonic punches, and the mighty dents left in the concrete floor. It really was a visual spectacle that I didn’t expect from these DC films.
Now, I can be quite picky when it comes to humor. I think delivery is important as well as relevance. It needs to serve a purpose. That particular type of comedy can sometimes spoil Superhero movies for me. It’s probably why Ragnarok is my least favourite and it can definitely be seen as a contributing factor towards Justice League’s failure. However, these animated films get a really nice balance. A lot of my favourite humor came from The Flash (Christopher Gorham), Green Lantern (Nathan Fillion), and Superboy (Cameron Monaghan). There were some really funny moments but there were also moments that weren’t funny. I noticed that certain jokes, and even regular dialogue, were almost left dangling with awkward pauses between the punchline and the responses from other characters. It was almost as though there should have been a laugh track played. It didn’t happen too often but it was rather jarring.
Despite my praise of the fight scenes, many regular scenes that included character interactions and some movement came across very stiff and sometimes poorly drawn. A shot of superman flying in space felt very jumpy and I’m pretty sure his face was just a smiley face.
These are only slight criticisms. Overall the films were great. Some brilliant action scenes, some surprising gore, fantastic dynamics between characters and a solid cast. As a fan of Tony Todd, it was great to hear his menacing voice again, and I’m surprised that Rainn Wilson did so well as Lex Luthor, he really owned the part.
Both films are a fine additions to the vast world of DC animation. They feel like proper Superman movies filled with great visuals, a lot of laughs and some really great characters. With many new Superman’s introduced in the second film we get enough to feel invested in each of them, particular Superboy. In addition to that, both films make us question what it means to wear the symbol of House El. What does it mean to be Superman? What I also loved was that even though it was a double bill, the time flew by (pun intended). So I highly recommend watching them together like I did.
As a newbie to the DC animated world, do you have an recommendations? Please do let me know in the comments! And if you have watched both, feel free to share your thoughts. Death of Superman is on sale now! However, Reign of the Supermen is not available until January 28th. You can pre-order it now from Amazon.
James Lister is a University student in the UK, currently undertaking his Masters degree in Media & Communication. He has a strong passion for everything Marvel, DC, Star Wars, and Anime related.