The latest addition to the DC animated film collection is finally here. This time we have a fresh new take on a classic origin which has been told numerous times throughout history – the origin of Superman.
Since the announcement of this film I have been eager to see what it was all about, mostly because of the phenomenal cast that are involved, but also because of the brand new animation style which truly marks a new chapter in the DC animated films.
Superman: Man Of Tomorrow focuses around the introduction of a brand new superhero – Flying Man, wait no I mean Superman! Clark Kent begins his career at The Daily Planet as an intern, where he first meets a very ballsy Lois Lane. Both characters are very young, so naturally aren’t as wise when it comes to the characters that we know and love today. Lois is still skeptical about so called ‘superheroes’ and Clark is still trying to find his place in Metropolis, especially when it comes to his grasping who he really is. With the commotion that’s currently going on in Metropolis, he hasn’t much time to ponder and quickly steps into action alongside intergalactic bounty hunter – Lobo, and Martian Manhunter to stop a starving new threat named Parasite.
Like I said before this is an Superman origin like no other, it takes some of the best notions from other Superman lore we know and love and combines them to really make a unique Superman origin story. What I love about it is that you can see facets of previous Superman stories within it, there are aspects from comic books such as “Birthright”, “For All Seasons” and “Whatever Happened To The Man Of Tomorrow” to name just a few. As well as that there are some great references to the Christopher Reeve movies, and a lovely little moment that really reminded me of The New Adventures Of Lois & Clark, and that revolves around who makes Superman’s first suit. For me the choice in this film really adds a personal touch and I love when that happens.
There are some really beautiful moments in the film, as well as some truly harrowing ones. It is clear that writer Tim Sheridan and director Chris Palmer really understand these characters, and it’s also clear that they are fans as well. My personal favourite was the moment that Clark takes off his glasses when he’s with Martian Manhunter, it’s so symbolic. It’s from this moment that we know that Clark really trusts him and is able to relate to him on a level that no one else can. Another beautiful moment is Superman’s final speech towards the end of the film. Superman has always had a way with words especially when it comes to inspiring people, this is one of my favourites – “find your people”. The harrowing moments are mostly to do with Parasite. Even in comics his story is so tragic, but it’s even more tragic to see it on screen. Parasite is one of those really misunderstood villains, and it takes a true hero like Superman to really get that.
Let’s talk about the new animation style for a minute. For those who have followed the DCAU from the very beginning this is certainly a completely different take on the animation style, but it’s one that I really like. Since seeing some preview images prior to the films release I instantly got Archer vibes, which is great because I love that show. As soon as the film started I was drawn straight in by the art style. It’s completely different and rather unique. It has moments of incredible detail, minimalistic style and also a slight anime style when it comes to the facial expressions. I have to say I really love the animation style and I really hope it sticks around for future DCAU films.
There are several beautiful Superman shots which for me were just nice little details and nods to the mythos. Firstly the moment where Clark/Superman learns about his source of power, the artwork here is truly beautiful. The way that Superman soars effortlessly through the skies of Metropolis is truly beautiful too. This film is already full of heart and action, but the artwork really does add to that too. In the moments where it’s needed the artwork is either sleek and visually stunning or very rigid and cartoonistic during the action sequences. I have to say the way that the action sequences, specifically the fight scenes are portrayed is great. The rather graphic blood splatters along with the sound effects it’s safe to say we really do feel every punch that is thrown in this film. I even cringed at times.
Like I mentioned before this cast is phenomenal! We have a plethora of incredible experienced actors with instantly recognisable voices. There were times that I really pictured their faces along with the voices though, and sometimes that took me out of the zone whilst watching the film. This was mostly the case with Zachary Quinto as Lex Luthor and Neil Flynn as Pa Kent. With that said each and every cast member really nailed the characters they represented.
Darren Criss was awesome as Clark Kent/Superman, he added some really iconic moments to a classic and clumsy Clark Kent and added real heart when it came to voicing Superman. Ryan Hurst as Lobo is just incredible casting, I have to say most of the laughs in the film were down to him. Lobo is a very difficult character to voice and portray in general, but I have to say Ryan Hurst nailed it! Alexandra Daddario really embraced her role and persona as Lois Lane, she was fierce and ballsy and that is the Lois Lane we know and love.
Zachary Quinto as Lex Luthor, this was the casting I was most skeptical of because of how distinctive his voice is. But just like the rest of the cast he did an awesome job. He brought us a very calculated and scheming Lex Luthor. Neil Flynn as Pa Kent was iconic, even in Scrubs although he is extremely sarcastic, he has a very fatherly tone to his voice. I won’t go into any more detail on each of the characters because I will be here forever, but my god every single person nailed their role. I would love to see every member of this cast play their counterparts in live action. Not only do their voices really add to the characters, but I think their looks fit too. Casting Director Wes Gleason really deserves a pat on the back for this casting.
Finally, the music. Wow, the music by Kevin Riepl is phenomenal and really matches up to that of a live action film. Just like the animation, it really does add to each and every moment, it bring heart and emotion to the right places. And the credit music, especially the moment it begins is incredible, it gave me goosebumps. It’s so familiar, yet Kevin has added his own twist to it perfectly.
All in all this is a great addition to the DC Animated film collection, and although it is currently a stand-alone aspect in that universe I truly hope it isn’t the end. I’d love to see this creative team and cast portray these characters again in yet another iconic Superman animated film. If this is what the future of the DC Animated Universe looks like, count me in.
Haven’t watched Superman: Man Of Tomorrow yet? You can own it digitally NOW, or if you are collector like me and you want a physical copy, you can pre-order it now here (UK), or here (US). The film is due for physical release on 7th September 2020.