“You know me, always saving the day.”
After the disappointment that was the recent Suicide Squad animated feature, Warner and DC needed to save the day with the release of The Death Of Superman, and that’s exactly what they did. The Death Of Superman was a major milestone in the history of The Man Of Steel in the comics. It all started in December of 1992. DC announced they were killing off their most iconic hero and ending the Superman run of comics. Of course, that was only partially true. Once Supes was “killed off”, the comic split into four new branches, as the vacuum created by his death needed to be filled both in the fictional universe as well as the commercial side of ours. Eventually the lines were reunited, and Superman has been alive and well ever since. But this was a huge event in the world of comics. The Justice League and Batman vs. Superman films used aspects of the story in the recent film but this animated feature goes back to its comic roots and more faithfully brings that comic series to life.
The film begins as the Justice League takes down the Intergang, who attempt to kidnap the mayor of Metropolis. It’s all in a day’s work for the team, and they soon settle down to what they hope will be some quiet downtime. Of course, we know that isn’t going to happen. Looking at the tech used by the gang, the League realizes that Lex Luthor is behind the grab, but they don’t quite understand why. But both The League and Luthor are in for a surprise when something approaches the Earth from space with apparent ties to Krypton technology. The visitor is the creature Doomsday, who doesn’t have any purpose but to kill and destroy. The Justice League get taken out one by one, and even Luthor can’t seem to overcome the mindless creature. Finally, it’s up to Superman to save the day. He does, but at great cost. Superman dies in the battle as well. The film ends with the world mourning the loss of the hero.
The feature has a pretty solid voice cast here. It’s actually kind of nice that husband-and-wife team Jerry O’Connell and Rebecca Romijn play Superman and Lois Lane, particularly when Clark Kent reveals himself for the millionth first time and the start of the romance is sparked. It never really gets a chance before Superman’s fatal battle. Rainn Wilson, who is about to enjoy some box office magic in The Meg, voices Luthor. Rosario Dawson voices Wonder Woman, who sports a horrible version of the costume here. The whimsical Nathan Fillion voices Green Lantern. Christopher Gorham has limited time as the voice of The Flash. Criminal Minds and SWAT star Shemar Moore voices Cyborg. Jason O’Mara is Batman. Matt Lanter is Aquaman.
This is actually a very fun film. The pace is pretty frantic within a few minutes and doesn’t really let up at all. The 81 minutes literally fly by, and the battles bring out some of the iconic splash pages from the comic run. Honestly, this is what a Justice League film should be like, and it runs rings around the recent big-budget affair. Animation can deliver big moments with greater ease and also offers us a nice nod to moments in the books. With a few exceptions these animated DCAU films are far more entertaining than most of the recent box office efforts, Wonder Woman being the very notable exception.
The Death Of Superman is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1. The 1080p image is arrived at with an AVC MPEG-4 codec at an average 30 mbps. The high-definition image presentation is pretty much spot-on. This film uses more traditional style animation. There aren’t so many of the odd style choices that have appeared in the last couple DCAU films. Colors are bright and vivid. There isn’t anything murky or dark this time around. The image is clean. I wish more of them looked like this.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 isn’t too shabby, either. There aren’t a lot of aggressive surrounds, but I was impressed by the fullness of the audio. The subs are a huge part of that. They work not to overpower or shake your room but to give weight to the animated action. It also helps to deliver the kind of heroic deep voices that many of these animated efforts lack. It’s all perfectly balanced and amps up the entertainment value considerably.
A Sneak Peek At The Next DC Universe’s Animated Feature – The Reign Of The Supermen: (9:33) The production crew give us a look at the next chapter. We get some clips and storyboards while they tell us how it will dovetail into the film you just saw.
The Death Of Superman – The Brawl That Topped Them All: (16:23) This is a nice look at the storyline. The folks who brought us the 1990’s comic share the development of the original story, and we see tons of pages from the run. Then the film producers show us comparisons and the development of the animated feature.
2 Bonus Shorts: We get the 2-part episode of The Legion Of Superheroes Dark Victory.
You get a little action figure of Superman with his ragged costume
This isn’t the first time that this story has been used in the current run of animated features. 2007’s Superman: Doomsday also covers some of the same ground. The difference here is a closer adaption that is now going to be followed by The Reign Of Supermen which delves into the four Superman branches that developed in the 1993 series of comics. I’m looking forward to see how they portray that period in DC history, and I’d say this was a solid start. Can’t wait to see the followup. “The ribs are on me.”