“The Death of Superman” stars Jerry O’Connell, Rebecca Romijn, Rainn Wilson, Rosario Dawson, Nathan Fillion, Christopher Gorham, Matt Lanter, Shemar Moore, Jason O’Mara, Rocky Carroll, and Patrick Fabian. Released on July 24, 2018, the film has Superman battling an unstoppable force known as Doomsday.
The film is directed by Sam Liu and Jake Castorena. It is the 32nd film in the DC Universe Animated Original Movies library, and it is based on the DC comic book storyline of the same name by Dan Jurgens, Louise Simonson, and Roger Stern. Nobody would’ve believed that the Man of Steel will bite the dust sooner or later, but the release of “The Death of Superman” in 1992 was able to prove them wrong. It was one of the most popular comic book stories that DC had to offer due to its emotional narrative and the risk it took to actually kill off a beloved icon. The story was then adapted into many forms of media, including the 2007 animated direct-to-video film, “Superman: Doomsday” and the one that I’ll be looking at today. So far this year, I have only reviewed two direct-to-video releases, with “Batman: Gotham by Gaslight” being the best one by far. How does this one fare against those films? Let’s find out.
For those haven’t read the comic book, the story revolves around Superman (O’Connell) as he attempts to keep his relationship with Lois Lane (Romijn) alive as his alter ego, Clark Kent. When a mysterious figure crash lands into Earth and wrecks everything in sight, he, along with the Justice League, must put an end to his reign of terror before it kills everyone. If you’re familiar with the storyline (or have seen “Superman: Doomsday), you can already tell what’s going to happen before it happens, especially the ending. In terms of its execution, however, I believe it is something that might please some of the fans of the comic book. Looking at it as its own film, it’s not going to win any major animation awards, but I found it to be a suitable and surprisingly effective tale about the Man of Steel’s greatest challenge. One of the reasons why is the relationships between the people and Superman and how they are affected by his demise. I like Superman because he serves as a beacon of hope to everyone, and this film basically answers the question, “What if that beacon of hope fades away?”. It’s the type of question that we’re familiar with now, but the movie proves that it’s also the type of question that always capture people’s interests, including mine. The film also found a way to make the relationship between Clark and Lois as investing as the fight scenes between the Justice League and Doomsday. Similar to the other direct-to-video films from DC, the animation was pretty solid in terms of the action and the character designs. There were some sequences where the quality gets a little choppy or a bit generic, but when it comes to the action, the animation team was able to deliver the punches. Speaking of the action, the third act involving Superman and Doomsday has to be one of my favorite fight scenes in the DC Animated Universe. Hard-hitting and violent, the final fight in “The Death of Superman” makes the Superman/Doomsday fight in both “Superman: Doomsday” and “Batman V Superman” look like child’s play. Aside from its flawed animation, my only concern is that the amount of violence in this film may frighten some of the younger Superman fans. Yes, it is rated PG-13 and it is animated, but it is also pretty darn violent, especially when Doomsday comes into play. I’m serious, the scenes involving Doomsday were downright brutal. So, consider that as a warning before you show your kids this movie.
Overall, “The Death of Superman” is a well-executed Superman film that offers a suitable balance between emotion and entertainment. Its direct-to-video qualities and violent concept may be an issue for some people, mostly kids, but for those who have followed the source material, it’s an undeniable treat. Thanks to its effective storytelling and its solid, yet flawed, animation style, the film is a worthy improvement over “Superman: Doomsday”. I would recommend it to people who are familiar with the title character and the comic book it’s based on. Also, be sure to watch the end credits for a couple of teases of what’s to come.