There has been much ado about DC’s animated universe since it ends in Justice League Dark: Apokolips War. Since the films largely focused around telling New 52 related stories, covering the Death of Superman is a heavy undertaking. With death being a recent topic of discussion on The Other Identity, It’s a perfect time to review these two flagship movies in DC’s animated universe. What went right and what needed improvement in the Death of Superman and Reign of the Supermen.
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The Death of Superman
The Death Of Superman is a strange adaptation of its comic godfather. For me, I think the problem with this movie is a lack of focus on telling its own story. The film is also heavily reliant on the audience already having context with the Death of Superman story.
In theory, framing this historic Supes arc to fit this new DC Animated Universe is appealing to me. There are some changes that I prefer over the original story. Doomsday running through the entire Justice League with Superman as the last line of defense was a welcome improvement. Instead of having all the other heroes look on in shock as Superman dukes it out with the brutal alien.
However, it comes back to a lack of focus. Too much of this film is dedicated to setting up plot points for its follow up. Favoring setting up a sequel instead of telling a good story. Lex Luthor lurking around setting up top-secret projects, the scene focusing so heavily on the astronaut’s insistence that Superman will save them takes up a good portion of screen time, leading the audience to believe that something will come of these events. In reality, these points are all addressed in the next film
The new framing around Superman’s struggle with revealing his identity to Lois Lane is an interesting take. It’s also a better way of incorporating her into the story than the comic version. But it really doesn’t feel like it gets all the time it needs to marinate. The story is constantly bouncing around, focusing on other things. This leaves the finale feeling kind of sudden and vapid.
Obviously when you watch “The Death Of Superman” you expect Superman to die. However, I’d also assume you’d expect to feel something when he does. That simply is not the case with this movie. The stakes didn’t seem too high since the confrontation was so random. I understand the comic doesn’t make too big a deal out of Doomsday’s origin, but this was an opportunity to build up the clash as something far more epic and engaging.
Death Of Superman has its moments, but they are too few and far between to save it from itself. Rating: 6/10
Reign of the Supermen
If the lack of focus in its predecessor was intentional in making this movie feel more compelling, then it succeeded. Reign does a great job playing up the element of mystery captured in the comic arc. With several different Super People running around Metropolis, the movie does a good job highlighting the lengths the world goes to in order to fill the Superman-sized hole that was left after his death. I enjoyed all the stark characterization each of the Supermen had. Each felt like they had a significant role in creating drama, tension, and most importantly, conflict.
What I liked most about Reign was that it earned the moment of Superman’s return. Unlike some movies dealing with similar subject matter *cough JusticeLeague cough*, there is an actual sense of drama surrounding the idea of Superman’s resurrection. There’s not really much else to say.
If you enjoyed the Reign of the Supermen comic story, then the movie should capture the same essence. Rating: 8/10
Check out the latest episode of CheckpointXP’s comic book podcast The Other Identity Episode 19 Death in Comics. Robbie Landis and Ben Morse talk about their own feelings on the several famous deaths in the comic world.
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