REVIEW: The Death of Superman is an Entertaining and Character-Focused Adaptation
Directed by Jake Castorena and Sam Liu, and written by Peter Tomasi, DC's The Death of Superman effectively adapts its source material and captures the heroism and heart of Superman. This entertaining, character-driven film is one of the best entries from the DC Universe Animated Original Movies.
We follow Clark (Jerry O'Connell) thriving in the superhero department, but struggling in his personal life with deciding whether to reveal his secret identity to Lois (Rebecca Romijn). Meanwhile, Lex Luthor (Rainn Wilson) is secretly experimenting with aliens and otherworldly technology to take down the Man of Steel and win the public's affection. However, when Doomsday arrives from space to wreak havoc over metropolis, and the Justice League fails to
defeat him, Superman must give it his all to stop the destructive beast.
Despite being set in the New 52 continuity, this film draws a lot from classic Superman lore and even DCEU films. The story closely follows its original comic run, with a few welcome modifications. It's also great seeing Clark back in a relationship with Lois (after being with Wonder Woman in previous films). Not only are they a better and more interesting pairing, but their relationship is the heart of the film. Moreover, there are a few neat allusions to Superman: The Movie, as well as visual homages to both Man of Steel and Batman v Superman. This movie wonderfully captures the best qualities of Superman and references his various iterations seamlessly. What's great about the movie is that it really focuses on the characters.
There's an interesting duality of Superman being embraced by society, while Clark struggles to take his relationship forward with Lois. It's nice seeing him seek advice from the other Justice League members as well as his parents. His interactions with Lois are charming and sincere, further proving why they are the ultimate power couple. It's also great that Lois gets quite a bit of screen time too, emphasizing her importance in Clark's life and as a vital character in her own right. The Justice League members and supporting characters get to have their moments as well. It’s the scenes of character interactions and banter which provide the levity and heart that make this film so enjoyable. The emotional ending feels earned because of this attention to relationships.
There's also no shortage of incredible action. Doomsday lives up to his name and is presented as a truly menacing threat. Seeing all the different League members show-off their respective abilities against Doomsday is a blast to watch. The fight scenes are exciting and brutal, especially Wonder Woman's. And most importantly, we get to see Superman in all his glory. The climactic battle between Doomsday and Superman is both violent and emotional. The Man of Steel’s array of powers gets to be on full display, as well as his selfless bravery and determination.
The Death of Superman moves at an efficient pace and is able to introduce several plot points and characters without feeling rushed, for the most part. However, at only 80 minutes in length, it could have used a couple more minutes of breathing room. Another slight detractor would be the inclusion of a lofty four post-credit scenes. Perhaps some of those teases could've been more incorporated into the film. Also, while most of the voice acting cast is well-suited for their roles, Rainn Wilson’s voice doesn't quite fit Lex Luthor’s animated design.
Overall, The Death of Superman is a fantastic addition to the DC Animated movie universe. We get a great self-contained story that also manages to do a nice job of setting up next year’s sequel. Where the film succeeds the most is in its attention to character and relationships. The charming interactions between people, along with exciting fight scenes, makes this an incredibly worthwhile movie.
FINAL VERDICT: 8.5/10