In 1992, I was a freshman in high school, and deep into comics… just not Superman. He was cheesy. He had a mullet for a while.
Image Comics probably topped my reading list that year, and a headline-grabbing “Death of an Icon” story line didn’t pull me back to the big blue boy scout. My memories of the Death of Superman comics were that my parents actually asked me about it. It must have made their nightly news. (I was reading X-Men at the time, so I told them not to worry. Nobody stays dead in comics.)
Consequently, most of my experience with the story comes from one-off issues in my collection and the previous animated film that tackled this plot, Superman: Doomsday. That film compressed the original story line quite a bit and left an opening to return to the source material for a new take on it.
The Death of Superman, Warner Bros. Animation and DC Entertainment’s new telling of the 1992 story, is a compelling addition to the DC Animated Movie Universe. Sam Liu and James Tucker, working from a script by Peter J. Tomasi, reach back to the original plot while placing the film in this particular run of movie continuity. We have references to events from Teen Titans and previous JLA and Batman animated films. Lex wears an amazing disguise in direct nod to the 90s comics, and a wonderfully played line between Superman and Lois late in the film echoed Christopher Reeves and Margot Kidder.
Little flourishes like these helped build a trust with me that the people making this do know the character, and care about these stories. Liu and Tucker handled the action scenes quite well, with clear fight compositions and a comfortable level of detail across all elements of the scene. Rarely did a background piece feel like a 3D object from a computer. The result was a well-animated movie that was easy to follow and fun to watch (though even with my tastes, that was a LOT of blood in a couple of fights scenes. Wow…)
This film builds slightly further in the casual shared universe of DC Animated. Uniforms and state-of-affairs for the Justice Leaguers match from Throne of Atlantis and other previous films, and the voice cast continues as well. Jason O’Mara’s Batman, while not as menacing as the one I grew up with, is a good fit with the characterization here. Jerry O’Connell’s Superman/Clark Kent is sometimes too affable, almost so bumpkin as to seem like the Kents found him last week.
This feels in service toward the entire film’s development. The only thing that scares this Superman is the risk of trust, and the danger of losing loved ones. This pairs nicely with a story about the relationship Superman is beginning to enjoy with Metropolis. Themes of honesty, appearances, and trust abound, and are woven through some amazing fight scenes. I’m still not a fan of the current notched-collar outfit Supes wears, but in general I like this art style and I love these battles. I can accept accent piping for every seam of a super suit (and the Tron-like laser accents on everything else). Costumes aside, I come away from these movies wanting more time with these actors in these roles. Rosario Dawson, Rainn Wilson, Nathan Fillion… the cast is uniformly amazing. More, please.
Doomsday’s final battle with the Justice League, Lois, and Superman is heart-wrenching and brutal. Too often, Superman is used as a strange alien god brought in to finish the fights others can’t handle. Super-breath/punch/laser-eyes/whatever and you’re done. Here, he’s placed into a fight that builds across nearly half the movie, such that when he enters, you understand that he can be hurt by this creature.
And he is. Not to spoil anything, but the movie is called The Death of Superman.
I liked it quite a bit, having enjoyed most of the other recent DC animated movies from this cast and crew. It fits near the top of the WB/DC animated films. How much you enjoy it as a comics fan may rest on your feelings about the original storyline. I had a blast watching it and am ready for the sequel.
PS – Speaking of the sequel, watch all the stingers and see who we’ll meet in next year’s Reign of the Supermen…
Thatsmye Interviews: Les Weiler on Henchin’: the Series
The 8 Episode Series Tries To Encompass A Lot Leaving Fans In A Cliffhanger.
The 2010 “Avatar: The Last Airbender” movie by M. Night Shyamalan faced criticism for its deviations from the beloved animated series. The film struggled with pacing, casting, and a lackluster script, disappointing fans who cherished the source material. In contrast, the 2024 Netflix series has generated positive buzz for its commitment to diverse casting, adherence to the original storyline, and improved character development. The series seems poised to capture the essence of the animated show, offering a fresh and faithful adaptation that resonates with both new and existing fans.
Even though the Netflix series comes closer to the core ideals of the animated series, I feel it lacks heart. Many scenes barely scratch the surface of the relationships between the characters and the push-and-pull relationship between Aang and Zuko. I will admit the CG versions of Momo and Appa are just so gosh darn cute.
The 8 episode series tries to encompass a lot leaving fans in a cliffhanger. It’s worth a watch and I am hanging on for the next season to be announced.
Caesar’s Reign Comes To The Big Screen With New Trailer For Kingdom Of The Planet Of The Apes
Director Wes Ball breathes new life into the global, epic franchise set several generations in the future following Caesar’s reign, in which apes are the dominant species living harmoniously and humans have been reduced to living in the shadows. As a new tyrannical ape leader builds his empire, one young ape undertakes a harrowing journey that will cause him to question all that he has known about the past and to make choices that will define a future for apes and humans alike. “Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes” is directed by Wes Ball (the “Maze Runner” trilogy) and stars Owen Teague (“IT”), Freya Allan (“The Witcher”), Kevin Durand (“Locke & Key”), Peter Macon (“Shameless”), and William H. Macy (“Fargo”). The screenplay is by Josh Friedman (“War of the Worlds”) and Rick Jaffa & Amanda Silver (“Avatar: The Way of Water”) and Patrick Aison (“Prey”), based on characters created by Rick Jaffa & Amanda Silver, and the producers are Wes Ball, Joe Hartwick, Jr., p.g.a. (“The Maze Runner”), Rick Jaffa, p.g.a., Amanda Silver, p.g.a., Jason Reed, p.g.a. (“Mulan”), with Peter Chernin (the “Planet of the Apes” trilogy) and Jenno Topping (“Ford v. Ferrari”) serving as executive producers.