I was lucky enough to get to see The Reign of The Supermen early, and not only that… a double bill screening including The Death of Superman at the Warner Brother’s office in London. As soon as I found out that I was invited, I crammed in some reading of The Return of The Superman in preparation.
It’s safe to say that the film does NOT lack action, heart or humor. In fact it has plenty of each of those. It picks up directly where The Death of Superman left off, and we are introduced “properly” to the four new Supermen who are acting in the name of the one true Superman. I won’t go into the story too much, because if I did, it would spoil things, but the story is solid. But, be warned it does host a LOT of changes compared to the comic series. I guess this is done to keep people guessing and to make it a little more contemporary, lets not forget the original comic series was out in the early 90’s. Whilst they have changed the story a little, there are so many references and nods to the original comic series, which I LOVED, and even some references to recent DC films.
One of those things, was the way the chaos of what had been going on is shown, director Sam Liu showcases this as newspaper front covers, which for those familiar with the 90’s comics is genius! They have recreated some of the iconic covers that we know and love. There was also reference to some things featured in Justice League, but it was also acknowledged how much Wonder Woman LOVES her ice cream. Those are the parts of the film that don’t really add anything to the story, but act as a bit of a check list for fans watching. And I for one, loved it.
The film is great fun, and has LOTS of humor which is great to see! So many perfectly timed jokes, most courtesy of Superboy who is voiced by Gotham’s Cameron Monoghan. Some of those jokes are aimed towards adults a little more, but I like that. The film had so much heart, and you really felt for the characters, even the cameos. And as for the action, wow! There is so much going on, there really is never a dull moment! The animation and direction really adds to that, and although there is a lot going on, the story is told very eloquently and it doesn’t feel like too much.
Now, lets talk about some of the changes – I won’t go into to much detail as I feel it will spoil the film. But to put it out there, there are a LOT of them. Firstly, in the original comic there is no Justice League to help – well, only Green Lantern, but in this film they are all present. I wasn’t mad at that at all, they provided laughs, great interaction and I think it was a good decision to involve them. The whole sponsorship and ownership of Superboy is different too… But that lead towards a real great moment and revelation in the film, which has me thinking about numerous possibilities for the DC animated future.
There are also a few characters and moments missing from the comic that I was hoping to see. But that is compensated for with the introduction of another character and it seems very much like it is trying to push for and really set up for what Justice League could have been… that is all I am saying. To be honest, after all of the Justice League craziness, it was great to see that and great to see Supes in the black suit and stubble we were hoping for!
Character-wise, there are three that really stole the show for me… Lois Lane, Superboy and Bibbo. Lois was fearless throughout and as Wonder Woman herself described her “an Amazonian at heart”. She was strong, fierce and even saved Superman countless times during the final battle – what a WOMAN! To me, the most comic accurate character was Superboy – I know he hates being called that! The personality of the character oozed throughout, and from the film he stood out as my favourite Superman imposter. He was arrogant and had the whole teenage annoyance about him, but lovably so. He was hilarious! And last but not least, Bibbo, he has always been one of my favourite characters in the Superman legacy. Mostly because his character showcases what Superman means to the world. Bibbo helps us recognise what Superman stands for and means to the people, and not just on a galactic scale and that is really brought into this film.
Each character was voiced perfectly, and each actor/actress had a great portrayal of each of their characters. Although, I do stand by words in my previous review about the voice of Lex Luthor – Rainn Wilson, who to me, seems more comedic that I’d expect of him, and it really reminds me of James Woods. Jerry O’Connell voices Superman/Clark Kent/Cyborg Superman perfectly, and although they are voiced by the same person, you can really distinguish the differences between them by the tone of Jerry’s voice. A very rare talent!
Despite all four of the Supermen being introduced and showcased, I didn’t feel that they went into much detail about them, which is a shame – especially for Cyborg Superman, as that really needs some explaining. The opening sequence of the comic book, introduces them in their own ‘habitats’ if you like, and that really gives you a sense of the character and their background. I felt like we didn’t really get that. I guess the film could have been spread out into two films, just so they could go into more detail, but that would be extremely long winded.
The animation was spot on, as I said before the action sequences really came alive and it was like no other animation I’d seen in that sense. There were a few times where there were some long pauses between jokes and scenes, but other than that it was really well done. The score of the film was incredible! Frederick Weidmann composed it, and what a job he did. The score of the film really added to the intensity of the film, and really had you on the edge of your seat. It added emotion and even more heart, so bravo to him!
In my personal opinion, I did enjoy the first installment , The Death Of Superman more. To me, the pace was better, you had time to connect and feel with the characters and it stuck to the comics that little bit more, which I appreciate in a film whether animated or not. But overall, The Reign of The Supermen is a great DC Animation. It’s fun, it has heart and it really showcases the true Metropolis feel, with a few cameos of characters we know and love. It is most definitely worth a watch!