Warner Bros. Invited us along to a special double feature screening of Death of Superman followed by the new Reign of the Supermen, something I greatly appreciated, having no idea as to the happenings of Supes and his Justice League.
I’ll be completely honest here, I’ve never been a fan of Superman for many reasons. As a kid I remember watching the cartoons and the old TV series, (you know the one with Teri Hatcher as Lois Lane?) And I remember thinking “But how comes no-one recognises him? All he does is take off his glasses and slick back his hair…”. Now for a kid to be calling you on your shenanigans you’re either doing something very right or something very wrong, in my case, wrong and I’d swiftly switch to Scooby Doo.
But I digress, we’re here to talk Death of Superman/Reign of the Supermen and so we shall!
Let’s start from the top. Death of Superman is not a new movie, it released last year and so will not be the subject of the review but it is important we brush on it. Was it a good move? Not in my opinion. The dialogue and characters all seemed to be more cringe than funny and the animation seemed more Dragon Ball Z than DC. Lots of long winding up punches and jet-dash attacks from flying characters.
The fighting scenes and heroes seemed incredibly inconsistent and I was mightily surprised when you see Wonder Woman and the rest of The League get pounded by Doomsday in about 2 minutes then our solar powered caped crusader floating in and having a 20-minute punching contest with the creature. Batman bombs Doomsday a couple of times using the same bombs and does vastly different amounts of damage each time.
Of course, it’s a Superhero movie and the laws of physics need not apply, but it still grated my cheddar the wrong way. Long story short, I didn’t enjoy Death of Superman so going into Reign of the Supermen I wasn’t exactly on the edge of my seat. Dude sat next to me actually fell asleep but it had been a long week for all of us, give him the benefit of the doubt.
Reign of the Supermen is set 6 months after the Doomsday invasion where Superman bites the bullet and gets his head caved in by Doomsday while simultaneously snapping its neck. Heroes – 1, Bad Guys… also 1?
There’s a number of shiny new supermen floating about protecting the people of TOTALLY NOT NEW YORK CITY WE EVEN HAVE OUR OWN BROOKLYN BRIDGE. These heroes are zipping about the sky in various different renditions of the Man of Steel’s persona, one of them actually being a hero called Steel. Creative (“Yeah but Spud, you like Spider-Man” Fair point) but also a little odd, as Lois Lane, the world’s most oblivious girlfriend, figures out who Steel is in a matter of moments. Still completely baffled that Clark Kent was Superman and she was sleeping with him… sigh whatever.
Again Reign of the Supermen was trying hard to be quippy and fun but also retaining a little of that DC seriousness and gravity, but instead, everything just fell kind of flat. The “meaningful” moments of dialogue that were meant to be powerful and moving were full, boring and kinda emotionless.
The crazy thing is that neither movie is particularly “kid-friendly” as there is a lot of “foul” language used. I get that it’s meant to lend emphasis to a situation, the primary purpose of any foul language, but it feels really quite forced. More of a “Ha, you wouldn’t hear that in a Marvel movie!” and it comes across as more juvenile than anything.
I draw issue with the character known as Eradicator, basically Superman with a dumb pair of goggles. The issue is that he is unnamed and seems to be a mystery with everyone thinking he’s Superman for the majority of the movie and then suddenly BAM! Everyone is calling him Eradicator, where’s the consistency?
I’m the first to admit I’m no DC fan, and so maybe I am being overly harsh, but Superman has always been a dull, flat character to me. He suffers from much the same issue as early Captain America; Being the ultimate moral compass at all times is all well and good but it’s boring. Light doesn’t exist without dark. Superman’s supreme infallibility at all times is yawn-worthy.
His doppelgangers/impersonators have way more character and they’re quite literally sidelined for the main man. Eradicator, as dumb as his name is, is actually pretty cool because of his brutal style of absolute justice. You doing a crime? You get smacked the crap up so you no do a crime. Superman turns up and gives you a morality lecture before knocking you and your buddy’s heads together in a bid for slapstick style comedy. It’s disappointing and dull.
One of the biggest issues is the complete and utter lack of any form of lasting threat, as it is revealed right at the end of Death of Superman that his body is gone. Our solar powered hero is clearly not dead, his magic rocket ship picked his ass up to regenerate him. Knowing this just kind of makes Reign of the Supermen a really dull waiting game as Supes will inevitably return. There’s no need to add that little scene in at all, it totally kills any sense of suspense… not that there was much of one anyway.
The fact this movie is a straight to DVD release should tell you all you really need to know. It’s never going to be up to the… higher(?) standards of the blockbuster DC movies, but still, it should have something interesting about it.
Let’s be honest the movie is exceptionally bland, just like the title character himself. Not even Nathan Fillion’s role as Green Lantern could help lighten the mood, and that’s kind of his whole thing. The best character in the movie (really not saying much) was Lex Luthor who’s selfish naivety and inflated ego actually gave him something close to personality.
Admittedly Superman does have his moments where he becomes a bit whiney and moody for a while until the sun comes out and he realizes “Oh wait, I’m a freaking GOD.” Then suddenly kicks ass again. What doesn’t make any sense is the ending… Not wanting to give spoilers for any such inclined individuals but the ending circles back to the whole lack of consistency once again.
Overall the animation isn’t great, the dialogue is pretty lackluster, the story is pretty unimaginative and the characters are all either useless or laughably bad. Reign of the Supermen is the perfect sequel to Death of Superman but that doesn’t really make it much better. It’s not even a Sunday morning animated movie for watching while you fold washing. It’s really not worth the time.