The Death of Superman – A Review

Posted: 08/20/2018 in Uncategorized

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Well damn. In one fell swoop DC does with animation what they have yet to manage to do live action. If “Death of Superman” wasn’t perfection… it was pretty damn close. Great voice work, great animation and solid story telling bringing to life one of DC’s most legendary story arcs featuring the end of the Man of Steel. My review follows below.

What is most impressive about this venture is its linear nature. It gels, blending with previous DC works unabashedly, referencing other works, including previous Justice League films. Wonder Woman’s (Rosario Dawson) relationship with Superman (Jerry O’Connell) is not glossed over. As the material echoes the source material, Lois Lane (Rebecca Romijn) and Clark/Supes are romantically involved. Both Diana and Clark are superheroes, modern pantheon gods or close enough, and above all, both are adults. Dawson owns the role after several forays. Her support of Clark pays tribute to the friendship between the two characters spanning decades in the written source material. O’Connell brings a warmth and earnestness to his character, particularly in his civilian identity. Romijn brings forth a relate-able  Lois Lane, far more so than the Amy Adams version who borders on a cloying know it all.

The action frames the story and the Justice League is drawn into the central story line unlike the original material but this is done organically and actually enhances  the plot, rather than mires it. In DOSM, a fairly seamless intersection of the man of steel’s ‘work’ life and personal life occurs and is presented with aplomb. There is a natural chemistry between Romijn’s Lane and O’Connell’s Clark/Superman. Whether this ease is due to their real life relationship/marriage or not –  the pairing of the two characters seems natural.

The Doomsday arc is nothing new. It was done reasonably well in 2007’s Doomsday. This is however a big story and deserves the same broad, grand treatment given to the Dark Knight Returns years back which still stands among DC’s best animated work. In animation, the artistry is very much left with artists. The art is allowed to play out on screen, mirroring the pages from whence they come. Free of expensive visuals, the story may therefore flow without distracting heavy bombast…I’m looking at you ‘Batman Vs. Superman”. With animation, DC is allowed to give its creativity free rein and concentrate on story telling.

Jason O’Mara returns and reminds us that he is easily Kevin Conroy’s heir apparent. He manages much with a few lines of dialogue  and a grim demeanour. Other characters get to play with this run. Flash (Chris Gorham) interacts gamely with Nathan Fillion’s Hal Jordan/Green Lantern. Flash banters with Batman to the usual effect. The team’s dynamic now expands to include the Martian Manhunter (Nyambi Nyambi) whose voice work is regrettably not to the level of Carl Lumbly’s classic J’onn J’onzz timbre.

Lex Luthor however is played impressively by Rainn Wilson. He brings a different kind of vocalisation regarding Luthor but it works. Again, his predecessor, Clancy Brown left an indelible mark with his voice work but this is a new age and Wilson succeeds in bringing to life his own version of Supes’ primary nemesis.

The push to bring Lois into his confidence is very much at the heart of this story. This main arc plays out in a terrific restaurant scene moment up to and including a ‘final secret’ sequence that hits all due emotional beats. We know what will follow and this allows for the moment to have the proper gravitas.The JLA takes on the newest threat to Metropolis and the battle is epic with due respect provided to Wonder Woman who more than any other member of the team truly makes Doomsday work for a victory. This is however Superman’s town and therefore his foe to face. This point ties into the fact that DC continues to take the PG 13 to occasional R route with their latest work. Deaths are violent as we expect they would be if such a thing as Doomsday were to exist, exhibiting many of the Man of Steel’s strengths with no whit of mercy or compassion.

The original story left a powerful impact for years in the DC written, comic universe. This film delivers no less with a potently presented visual masterpiece that serves to remind us that DC is still in the running. In fact , where animation is concerned they may easily claim supremacy over their main rival, Marvel. Death of Superman dazzles and sets the stage for the second act to be released next year. With DOS, DC restores some measure of faith and puts forth a genuinely superior product.

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