In Reign of the Supermen, six months after Superman’s death at the hands of Doomsday, the world is still mourning his loss.
The Justice League is stretched to breaking point without their most powerful member, and the Earth is facing increasingly greater threats. However, in Metropolis, four new heroes have emerged – each bearing Superman’s shield emblem and possessing qualities like the fallen hero. Superboy, a cocky teenager with seemingly similar powers, bears a resemblance to Superman; Steel, an armoured champion, fights for truth and justice; Cyborg Superman, part man and part machine, projects the image of goodness; and the Last Son of Krypton, unemotional but effective, is the embodiment of Kryptonian strength and culture.
But which of them is the real Superman, if any, and has Superman truly returned?
…the good news is that it delivers!
As Lois Lane attempts to learn more about each of the four Supermen, she uncovers shocking secrets and discovers that the world is in danger like never before. With time running out, the question becomes which Superman can the world trust?
Since The Death of Superman arrived on our screens, this continuation to the story has been one of the most anticipated animated films DC has produced. And the good news is that it delivers!
Based on the comic book series, it hits many of the same plotlines that readers will be familiar with, while throwing in a few new elements to the proceedings. Unfortunately, unlike the previous film, to reveal more would be revealing spoilers which many would complain about. And while they may not be spoilers to comic book readers (and if you didn’t read the comics then why not?!), it’s still best to not mention them in great detail. But let’s just say that many of the best moments from the comics are recreated, while others are tweaked so they work in this format. While it may not be 100% faithful to the original, it’s just as entertaining.
While it may not be 100% faithful to the original, it’s just as entertaining.
There are a couple of drawbacks to this though. Since the original story covered several mini-arcs within a greater big picture tale – Doomsday, Funeral for a Friend, World Without Superman, Reign of the Supermen and the return itself – this film covers several of them. That makes the plot feel a bit drawn out, with interesting elements falling by the wayside in the latter stages. While it makes sense for the film, the early mystery of the four Supermen is a much stronger storyline than the events surrounding the film’s final battle, making the ending feel less impressive.
Another downside is that not all of the characters receive satisfactory screen time, with one of the best Supermen, in particular, suffering from weak character development – and no final resolution to his story. Between those problems, some nit-picking plot holes and occasionally poor writing, it’s sad to note that this film doesn’t quite hit the same high notes as The Death of Superman.
But then that was to be expected.
While that film dealt in heart, highlighting why people love Superman and why he matters, this film is more about mystery and big fight scenes and so it fails to achieve the same emotional connection. At times it comes close, and it may even bring a tear to the eye, but a few extra minutes at the end to cover Superman’s return would have gone a long way to deliver more payoff to the earlier film.
For all of those negatives, Reign of the Supermen is still quite an achievement and does manage to successfully tell the story as it should. With its combination of intrigue, humour and action it captures the best parts of the society that Superman lives in, from the corporate shenanigans at LexCorp to the street-level antics at the Ace o’ Clubs. The world of Metropolis is done justice, seemingly alive and properly populated with real people, while the heroes and villains of the DCU engage in their power struggles.
…Reign of the Supermen is still quite an achievement and does manage to successfully tell the story as it should.
The voice cast continues to impress, and as a side note how has Nathan Fillion not been cast as a live-action Hal Jordan yet? The clock is ticking, DC. The weak link in voice work continues to be Rainn Wilson, who still seems woefully miscast as Lex Luthor. Making up for that is Gotham’s Cameron Monaghan, who brings a perfect combination of undeserved arrogance and apathy to the role of Superboy, instantly setting him apart from Nolan North’s more angst-ridden version in Young Justice.
While this is more of a standard superhero film compared to The Death of Superman, it matches it well as a continuation from that story and completes it successfully. While it could probably stand on its own, it does work better as a follow-up so it’s best to watch both. It’s bound to please fans of the comics, DC fans in general, and most viewers regardless. While not perfect, Reign of the Supermen is one of the best animated films from DC yet.
Reign Of The Supermen
Reign Of The Supermen is a great continuation from The Death of Superman, but falls just short.