Superman Doomsday is a loose, animated adaptation of The Death of Superman story that came out in the 90s. If you haven’t read that story, Kal El, fights a Kryptonian monster named Doomsday to save the world, but in the process he dies, and much of the comic is what happens after he dies. This movie is specifically condensed to Clark Kent’s supporting cast, and is a different take on the story of the Man of Steel’s death. It has the similar beats, and a lot of the same emotional weight, but is it as good as the story that rocked the world in 1992?
The animation is just gorgeous, as with most Warner Bros. DC animated productions. Not only do all the characters have unique designs, but they all move in a fluid way. It’s a cartoon-like style, but detailed and unique. The fight scenes are epic and the scope of the production is massive, metropolis feels like a real place. It’s mainly 2D animation, which is refreshing to see in this CGI excessive market. The voice acting is also on point, a lot of fun actors playing great iconic roles. Adam Baldwin and Anne Heche play a great Clark Kent and Lois Lane. The only one that’s a little odd, is James Marsters playing Lex Luthor. Marsters chooses to be almost sexual in his delivery, and some of his lines are just weird. But, it’s a minor detail, and the film smartly doesn’t focus on him.
The character that gets the most attention is Lois Lane, and the film follows her as she deals with the grief of her lover’s death. It also focuses on how Lex Luthor feels cheated, Jimmy Olsen feels abandoned, and the slow decent into crime happening in Metropolis. The film’s focus on grief is handled well, and there are some genuinely touching moments that might jerk a tear or two out. The dialogue can be stilted, but when it works, it really works. However, there are some scriptual issues that just can’t be ignored.
The movie is so condensed that it feels like it’s rushing through the story beats, and this wouldn’t be too much of a problem if the movie knew when to slow down. But, it doesn’t it just keeps moving when it should allow the audience to be in the moment and comprehend the idea of Superman’s death. There’s also the story element of the clone of Superman who comes in halfway toward the movie, and his character arc is also sped up with poor results. He starts trying to create a more totalitarian viewpoint, but it just feels out of left field. We know he’s supposed to be messed up, but it could have had some more time dedicated to it. Also, for a movie called Superman Doomsday, we see very little of the Kryptonian monster that kills the Man of Tomorrow. But, then again, he’s not the focus of the film, Lois Lane and loss in general.
However, since Doomsday is going to be in Batman v Superman it feels necessary to talk about his role here, and be forewarned because I’m about to commit some superhero heresy. I don’t think Doomsday is that interesting a character, and this movie reinforces that idea for me. Doomsday is just a mindless killing machine in every story he’s in, and in this movie all he does is destroy. This makes him an exciting physical threat for Superman, but that’s it. And in the comics his only real merit is that he managed to kill Clark Kent; he’s just a walking natural disaster, sure it’s fun to see heroes figure out how to stop him, but in the end he’s not what makes a story interesting. He is just a plot device to show us a world without Superman. Doomsday himself doesn’t have anything worth talking about, it’s what he does that’s worth discussion. But, in this movie, and in all the other adaptations he is just a mindless beast.
It baffles me that people think the new movie is ruining the character Doomsday, there wasn’t much of a character to ruin. I completely understand the criticism that they revealed him way too early in the trailers, but don’t complain that it’s sacrilege to change-up the origin story of a mindless monster, or use him as the mindless monster for the Trinity’s first meeting. There have been other interpretations of Doomsday that are much different from the comics, and it seems that people were just upset about the Batman v Superman one, because people like to complain. And if you really feel that Doomsday is being ruined then watch Superman Doomsday and ask yourself, what does he offer in the grand scheme of things that no other classic comic book villain can’t?
If you disagree with me, let me know in the comments, and feel free to send me all your hate mail to tell me how much I suck.
Back to the movie at hand, this is a fun movie, but not DC animated’s best work. It’s worth a watch though just for the stellar voice casting and excellent animation. There are some great scenes worth talking about, and some fun moments that make it worth the rental. Let us know what you think about this movie in the comments below, and next time we look at one of the greatest adaptations ever made, The Dark Knight Returns.