This year, 2013, is the 75th anniversary of Superman. As such, we’re treated to a new live action movie, a new anthology series (Adventures of Superman), and DC’s 16th animated movie, Superman: Unbound. The movie is adapted from Geoff Johns and Gary Frank’s Brainiac story line appearing in Action Comics #866 – 870 in 2008.
The movie opens with Superman already established in the world, along with Supergirl now living with him. While he’s been Superman for a while, Supergirl has only arrived a short while ago, and is having a hard time adjusting. Shortly after the opening action scene, a space probe/robot lands in Arizona and Superman goes to battle it. He takes the defeated probe back to his fortress to examine. Kara (Supergirl) arrives and is unsettled by the device. She explains how it’s a scout for Brainiac, and space traveling sentient robot that collects knowledge from planets by stealing a city, inhabitants and all, as specimens. Brainiac came to Krypton before it died and stole the city of Kandor. The young Kara barely managed to escape.
Superman then goes to the depths of space to find and defeat Brainiac. He only succeeding in leading him back to Earth. The two cousins battle to save Metropolis from Brainiac only to fail and be captured themselves. Superman breaks free and launches Brainiac from his ship. Brainiac, overwhelmed by the bacteria and noises from earth, breaks down and is defeated.
While the source material was amazing, the film is lackluster. The story originally set the stage for a major status quo change for Superman, and was very much in the middle many different running plot lines. I was very curious as to how they were going to either incorporate or ignore these threads. For the most part they were ignored and the ending was changed, allowing the movie to stand on it’s own.
Originally, taking Kandor out of Brainiac’s ship caused it to expand. After defeating Brainiac, Superman had no choice but put the city down in the Arctic, allowing it to expand. Before dying Brainiac sent a missile directly to the Kent farm. No one is hurt from blast, but Jonathan Kent suffers a heart attack. He laid in Martha’s arms dying as she cried for her son to come and save him. Clark heard the calls but was busy getting Kandor to a location where it could safely expand. He arrived at the farm just as Jonathan died.
This moment made the story for me. I’ve already seen Superman battle Brainiac before with similar results. Having him choose between the many and the few was heart wrenching, especially when the few were his parents. Removing this from the story made the movie a little pointless. Been there, done that.
The art direction had a significant change from that of Gary Frank. Frank styles his Superman after Christopher Reeves to great effect. The characters here, particularly Lois, look more anime influenced. Superman, Supergirl, and Brainiac who have the most screen time are well done, it’s the other humans that look comical.
Keeping in line with previous entries, this movie has a new voice cast. Matt Bomer does a good job with Superman, and Molly Quinn captures the teenage angst of Supergirl well. John Noble stands out as Brainiac, making me hope we’ll hear him again.
The comic arc was also infamous for the cover of Clark drinking a beer with his father. The comics were recalled after complaints and reprinted with a ‘Soda Pop’ label on the bottles. Really? Superman can’t have a freaking beer with his dad? Seriously?
Superman: Unbound (not really clear what he’s unbinding from) is one of the last few adaptations we’ll see as the producers have said in interviews how they want to move over to original material. I hope they can find a healthy mix of both. I’m thankful every time another movie is released, because that means Warner Bros. hasn’t cancelled the line yet.
What did you think of Superman: Unbound? Like the original comic better? Comment below!
Super pumped for Man of Steel… see what I did there?