The death of Superman was a tremendous event for comic fans and media circuits around the world. Sure, it had been teased a hundred times in the past but if they did it legitimately and made people believe that he was really gone; they would create a landmark achievement and bring comics back to a worldwide stage. With the release of Superman #75, they did just that. Newspapers, television shows; circuits that never showed a comic book in their life were showing the black bag and the tattered image on the front cover. Superman had died and the world mourned. In the months that followed, the story went in four different directions and eventually he was brought back.
Years pass and somebody at DC & Warner Bros thought this would make a great dvd feature movie. Following in the tradition of Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker Uncut; they also decided to make it racier by giving it a PG-13 rating. Then they found some good voice actors (Adam Baldwin & Anne Heche) and have it produced by one of the greats in Bruce Timm . They would have to change up the story a little bit too. Superman would still die while fighting Doomsday and he would still be brought back. However, certain elements would have to be dropped (e.g. the idea of four supermen) and other elements would have to be added (e.g. Lex Luthor being more of a central point to the plot of the story).
The altered story goes like this. Lex Luthor is conducting research by having his team dig near the center of the earth. They encounter an alien craft behind pounds of rubble. This alien craft after a brief warning is opened and thus Doomsday is released. After which he wrecks the country side and makes his way to Metropolis where he is confronted by Superman. The two battle and the rest of the story is history. The cartoon is fun even if it only runs 70-75 minutes. The other point to make is if you never read the comics or the graphic novel; you’ll have a very enjoyable time watching the action unfold. However, I have and I am a little bit disappointed.
The film feels short and more time is spent on the “resurrection” than the epic battle between Superman and Doomsday. This film could have easily broken the 90 minute barrier and should have been filmed a little closer to 100 minutes. That would have allowed enough time for the correct story to be shot. It could have included the four Supermen (Eradicator, Steel (I really miss his story), Super Boy, and Cyborg) and it could have not included the extra creepy Toy-Man as a secondary villain. I mean who came up with this guy? A miniature teddy bear with a knife; like that wasn’t ripped from a Chucky movie. I understand that the comic story-arch was lengthy but could have been still handled in a discrete and accurate manner.
Anamorphic Widescreen 1.78:1 is the presentation given to the animation. It does have a big movie feel and the animation is very strong. The color is great and there are no problems to be detected here. The only issue that can be brought up is that many of the characters including Superman appear old. Superman looks to be in his late 40’s by human years and looks to have wrinkles. It just looks a little odd.
Uncommon to a lot of Warner Bros animated movies; they decided to give us the 5.1 English Dolby Digital treatment. Surrounds are actually used quite well; especially in a few spots with mayhem and far off voices. It doesn’t reach the live action equivalents like Batman Begins or Superman Returns but it holds its own. Subtitles are also provided for English SDH.
Commentary by Bruce Timm (Producer), Duane Capizzi (Writer), Andrea Romano (Voice Director), & Gregory Noveck (Executive Producer) – a very good commentary that has just about everybody worth talking about that went into producing and making this adaptation of the graphic novel / comic book series. They also explain changes from comics to screen and why they took certain directions.
Requiem & Rebirth: Superman Lives! 43:10 – An awesome documentary that goes into the comic world surrounding the death and rebirth of Superman. Extensive detail is used and includes comments from a lot of people that worked during that project. This is arguably better than the feature itself. A lot of interesting and good information is presented here.
Justice League: The New Frontier Teaser Reel 10:44 – A good long promo for the upcoming Justice League: The New Frontier movie which will be another PG-13 venture for DC and Warner Bros. Here is hoping that this one shows up in my review pile as well.
Behind the Voice 5:18 – This short featurette is where you get to meet the actors and actresses behind the voice as it were. The voices were for the most part recorded together which helped to make it more genuine and the movie better as a result.
Superman’s Last Stand Interactive Game – Another “fun” and interactive dvd game where you have to press buttons in a certain order and hit enter to defeat Doomsday. I’m so meh on this that I will admit I played it for two rounds and then just skipped ahead.
Superman: Doomsday is a very good comic to screen adaptation. That is if you evaluate it on it’s own without knowing the comic or the events that lead up to the events. The voice acting is very credible and the PG-13 rating is greatly appreciated (this is not your dad’s Superman). However, for those who know the comics realize that it isn’t completely faithful. Which is somewhat dis-heartening. There were some story-archs that would have benefited from being included. However, this would have meant a run-time close to two hours. The dvd is a very fine presentation boasting good video and audio. The extras are awesome including a very good commentary and one of the best documentaries you could ask for. The only thing missing that I can think of is perhaps a digital comic showing of Superman #75 (or the graphic novel). But that would have been icing on the cake. I recommend this one with caution, buy it for the action, buy it for the fine dvd, buy it for Lex Luthor’s great lines (“There comes a time when even gods must die”); but don’t buy it because you want an accurate portrayal of the Death and Rebirth of Superman.
Every Day is Like Wednesday’s J. Caleb Mozzocco: Shares the best part of Superman: Doomsday.
The Geek Savant’s Podcast of Superman Doomsday DVD
Out For Justice’s David Foster: It is the film that Superman Returns should have been.