Heart, not action, is what gives Superman a proper ‘Death’
In 2007, Warner Bros. Animation and DC Entertainment released “Superman Doomsday,” the first film in their DC Universe Movies series, on DVD. The film tackled the landmark 1992-93 DC Comics story, “The Death of Superman.”
“Doomsday” was decent, but it strayed tremendously from the original comics, leaving out a lot of key moments in order to both kill Superman and bring him back to life within the same film. Now, as part of Superman’s 80th anniversary, DC and Warner Bros. are going back to the well to give the iconic story another animated shot with this week’s release of “The Death of Superman” on Blu-Ray and DVD. And this time, we get a much more complete story as the script concentrates more on heart than on action.
In “Death,” Daily Planet reporter Clark Kent (Jerry O’Connell) is enjoying his relationship with his colleague Lois Lane (O’Connell’s wife, Rebecca Romijn), but he’s struggling with balancing his personal life with his obligations to the Justice League and his desire to protect Metropolis. And he’s struggling with whether or not to tell Lois his biggest secret — that he is Superman. After getting advice from some of his Justice League colleagues, Clark decides to take the next step and tell Lois the truth. But their big moment is interrupted by the arrival of an alien monster who seeks to destroy everything and everyone in its path — including the entire Justice League.
Meanwhile, Lex Luthor (Rainn Wilson), who has been placed under house arrest by the government, continues to scheme against Superman and pursues the monster, believing he may hold the key to destroying the Man of Steel. Lex appears to be correct when the monster, which Lois later dubs Doomsday, and Superman engage in a lengthy battle to the death. As Lois and others deal with a world without a Superman, the unthinkable happens, setting up the story’s conclusion in “Reign of the Supermen,” which will be released next year.
The voice cast for this one is outstanding, led by the perfectly cast O’Connell, who does an excellent job with both the emotional scenes and the action ones. Romijn also does a great job capturing all the facets of Lois as her feelings toward Clark evolve throughout the movie. Wilson beautifully takes Lex back to his super villain roots and Rosario Dawson stands out as Wonder Woman, who shows a jealous side as Clark/Superman’s ex-girlfriend. But the main reason “Death” succeeds where “Doomsday” did not is the film’s heart, courtesy of a solid script by comics writer Peter J. Tomasi. “Death” doesn’t use the showdown with Doomsday as the focus, instead choosing to build the film around the love story of Clark and Lois. Everything in the film builds off of that relationship, which gives a real human element to an otherwise inhuman story.
It’s important to note that “Death” is rated PG-13 for violence, including some pretty bloody sequences. Even though it’s animated blood and violence, parents should use caution before letting their kids watch.
“The Death of Superman” is available now on Blu-Ray and DVD.
Angela Henderson-Bentley writes about television for The Herald-Dispatch. Contact her at email@example.com.