Fans didn’t know what to make of the first direct to DVD animated feature from DC. Justice League Unlimited had just ended the year before. With the same production crew, and an art style that was nearly identical, no one knew what to think. Was this a continuation? Something new entirely? Over time those questions were answered, but the most important question was answered right away. Was this any good?
“The Death and Return of Superman” story is incredibly controversial. While his death was told well enough, it was everything following that earned fan’s ire. Thankfully, most of that nonsense was removed here, streamlining the story in a way that makes sense for a feature. Superman fights Doomsday, dies. Luthor creates a clone to replace him, clone goes off the rails. Real Superman returns, battle ensues. Though that summary is straightforward, it’s the emotional beats that resonate the most.
Adam Baldwin voices Superman with Anne Heche is Lois Lane. Baldwin does a fine job as the Man of Tomorrow while Heche kills it as Lane. She was the one affected the most by his death and Heche wonderfully conveys that emotion through her performance. When she found herself on Ma Kent’s porch I choked up a little. James Marsters worked as Lex Luthor. This version is menacing, and borderline maniacal, though Marsters keeps him subdued. It wasn’t bad, but certainly not a break out.
The art style here was a little jarring. Looking nearly identical to JLU, very little was changed save for a few minor character designs. Superman had some odd lines added to his face, making him look middle aged. Lois was petite, but not annoyingly so while Luthor had the most angular face I have ever seen. Also, why did Mercy not have a nose? After 10 minutes or so, these hitches stood out less, not distracting from the overall story.
Superman’s battle to the death with Doomsday seemed a little underwhelming. It didn’t last as long as I think it should, and the coup de grace was a let down. That was all it took? Superman suplexing Doomsday into the Earth? Why not just fly him into the sun? Thankfully, the final confrontation with his clone was much more entertaining. There have been a few different status quo’s for Superman over the years. The film does a wonderful job setting up his current relationship with Lois without resorting to exposition.
Superman: Doomsday was the first of a hopelessly never ending cycle of direct to video releases. While it’s not the strongest in the bunch, it’s far from the worst. I think they were smart to lead off with such a well known story. I would tell someone to read the wikipedia of his death and return before the actual comic. This supplants that, making it the best version of his death.
Confused when Doomsday first released? Like how they streamlined the story? Comment below!
Gots the crud.