Fallen Gods: The Death of Superman (REVIEW)
written by Justin Prince (@prince_justin)
While DC's live action films continue to fall short of delivering on their promises, the animated films have been much better about delivering on the promise of high-stakes super heroics. With The Death of Superman being the eleventh and arguably highest stake DC Comics animated film since the whole universe was rebooted after The Flashpoint Paradox, my expectations were high going in to this.
Since making himself known to the people of Earth and joining the Justice League, Superman has become a glowing beacon of hope to the people of Metropolis, much to the chagrin of Lex Luthor. After breaking up an attempted kidnapping of the mayor by a gang sporting Apokolips powered duds, Superman opens up a bit more to Loin Lane revealing the secrets behind his people and the pod that brought him to Earth in the first place. Meanwhile, as Clark Kent, we see that Lois and Clark and maintaining a secret relationship while Clark struggles with the decision of whether or not to let Lois in on his biggest secret.
Meanwhile, a mysterious meteor crashes in the Atlantic Ocean bringing with it an all powerful being hellbent on destroying everything in its wake. Dubbed Doomsday, Superman much face off against the most powerful foe he's ever fought after each of the members of the Justice League were incapacitated by it.
What stands out for me in The Death of Superman was how they handled the relationships... primarily the one between Clark and Lois. While Lois was still in the dark about Clark's identity, they managed to write in a compelling narrative for why Clark is so hesitant to share that side of himself. As a nice little cherry on top, they also managed to explain how the relationship between Clark and Diana Prince didn't work out; a relationship established back in Justice League: War when the film continuity was still heavily following the now defunct New 52 imprint. It's nice to see them taking big steps away from the New 52 to establish their own separate universe.
While Superman has been there from the beginning, this version first appearing in Justice League: War, it took us four years to finally get a story focused centrally on the man of steel himself. While Superman played a major role in the previous films, in here we finally get the big blue boyscout front and center, something that I've been wanting ever since Zack Snyder's Man of Steel left me extremely disappointed all those years ago.
This being Superman's first big solo film with the rest of the Justice League playing supporting roles, the action scenes were bombastic, hard-hitting sequences worthy of being in a Superman film. Doomsday is an imposing foe, a fact felt in every scene Superman is pushed past his limits. While I try not to put spoilers, I mean... come on... it's in the title. Superman dies at the end. While I am glad they chose to adapt such an iconic piece of comic book history, Superman's death falls flat for me as a viewer... ending up feeling like a “been-there-done-that” sort of scenario after the poorly received Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice took bits and pieces of this storyline to kill off their Superman. This does remedy my distaste of how Superman died in the New 52 comics, I won't get too into it here but it has to do with absorbing energy and another, Pre-Crisis, Superman waiting in the wings to don the blue and red suit. But at least they used the “what a lucky man I was” line... yeah that was good.
Despite some very minor gripes, overall this was a winner in my book. I've loved the DC Animated films and even the more lackluster ones I still managed to enjoy. This one had me hooked from start to finish... and while I didn't outright bawl as the film's conclusion... I did feel my eyes getting a bit misty.
A fitting first outing for the animate Supes