Warner Bros Animation has released the follow-up to their acclaimed DC animated film The Death of Superman. Reign of the Supermen has some big shoes to fill, as the first film featured stunning visuals, a great score and a well developed take on the popular 1990’s Superman story arc of the same name. Can Reign of the Supermen hold up? Let’s find out.
I will admit, I read The Death of Superman as a teenager when it hit newsstands back in the day, so my memory of how well that film translated to film was very sketchy. However, I did not continue on with The Reign of the Supermen storylines, because as a kid, I thought that was it for Superman and I didn’t have the extra cash to plunk down for a crossover like that (and pay for all of my other comics).
The first movie was excellent and a fine addition to this DC Animated universe. From what I remembered, it pretty much followed the comics, with an occasional sidetrack here and there… I came into The Reign of Supermen not knowing anything about that story. I have been an avid comic reader all my life so obviously I knew Superman returned, but I never really knew how. This review will not compare the original comic arc with the animated interpretation.
The Reign of Supermen is a good film, but not as good as its predecessor. I felt that the first film slowly built up the hype, and made you truly feel sad as the emotion of Superman’s death hit home. His return from the dead, felt sort of like a letdown any many ways. His death certainly hit harder than his ultimate return. That’s not to say that it wasn’t a good film, it was just not as good as the first.
Reign of the Supermen keeps everything “in universe” as it did manage to acknowledge that Superman and Wonder Woman were once an item, a fact that was not mentioned in the first film and sort of bugged me throughout it, given that these movies take place in the same universe. There was great scene between Lois and Diana, in which they talk about the loss of Superman, their own relationships with him and the difference between Superman and Clark Kent.
The high points of the film included Superboy and Steel. I would liked to have seen a little more character development for Steel/Henry Irons, but it seemed like there was a ton of story that they had to get through to make this movie happen.
Superboy’s development was fantastic. He began as a character that exhibited the youthful brashness of most teenage boys, and turned into a true hero growing from his experiences throughout the film. Memorable scenes include his attempt at picking up Lois with a one-liner that only a teenager could come up with, him acting like a spoiled brat in Luthor’s limousine and his heroism in the final act.
Of the four “Supermen”, Superboy seemed to be the major player of the movie. It is probably a safe bet that he will eventually play a larger part in upcoming DC animated films.
The character of Steel is just a visually striking character and that could be why I enjoyed him so much. From saving Jimmy Olsen from being run over by a bus, to him stepping up as a hero when no one else would, John Henry Irons has supplanted himself in this universe as a true hero. Black Lightning actor Cress Williams brought Steel to life, and did a remarkable job.
The Eradicator was sort of a letdown character in my opinion. He had a few important scenes to move the story forward, but I never understood why he acted the way he did (with the over-the-top righteousness he displayed). He did have an important role in the story, but he seemed more like an afterthought throughout the first half of the film.
Cyborg Superman made for an excellent villain (although he isn’t the main antagonist of the film, but I will not reveal that one here). I am not sure if his story arc played out the same way it did in the comics, but his reasons for doing what he did were clearly defined and his turn came as no surprise. I am definitely interested in seeing if he returns at some point, and hopefully under the guidance of a certain yellow ring wielding character.
Lex Luthor is the surprise hero of the film, and from the looks of things will continue down that path in future films. His motives were obviously not heroic, but Luthor always finds an out and comes through looking clean again.
As usual, DC animated films knock it out of the park with their engaging scores. Frederik Wiedmann does another fantastic job with the music. He really tugs on the heart in a scene featuring Lois and the Kents and amps up the action in the final battle of the movie.
If you haven’t seen Reign of the Supermen, then I suggest watching it now. If you have a subscription to DC Universe, it is currently available on the service, or if you need a hard copy for your collection, check your local retailer for it.
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About Reign of the Supermen:
Reign of the Supermen is the second half of a two-part DC Universe Movies experience that began in August 2018 with The Death of Superman – the two films telling a more faithful animated version of “The Death of Superman,” DC’s landmark 1992-93 comic phenomenon. Superman Doomsday, the inaugural film in the DC Universe Movies series, told an abridged version of that comics story, but with a runtime of 75 minutes, the film was only able to focus on a core, singular storyline. The Death of Superman and Reign of the Supermen restore many of the moments and characters that fans hold dear to their hearts.
The Reign of the Supermen all-star cast is led by Jerry O’Connell (Carter, Bravo’s Play by Play, Stand by Me), Rebecca Romijn (X-Men, The Librarians) and Rainn Wilson (The Office, The Meg) as the voices of Superman, Lois Lane and Lex Luthor, respectively. The potent trio is joined by the DC Universe Movies’ returning voices of the Justice League: Jason O’Mara (The Man in the High Castle, Terra Nova) as Batman, Rosario Dawson (Sin City, Rent, Daredevil) as Wonder Woman, Shemar Moore (S.W.A.T., Criminal Minds) as Cyborg, Nathan Fillion (Castle, The Rookie) as Green Lantern/Hal Jordan, Christopher Gorham (Covert Affairs, Insatiable, Ugly Betty) as The Flash, and Nyambi Nyambi (Mike & Molly, The Good Fight) as Martian Manhunter.
Newly featured cast members include Cress Williams (Black Lightning) as Steel, Cameron Monaghan (Gotham) as Superboy, Patrick Fabian (Better Call Saul) as Hank Henshaw, and Tony Todd (Candyman) as Darkseid. In addition, the cast includes Charles Halford (Constantine) as Bibbo Bibbowski and The Eradicator, Rocky Carroll (NCIS) as Perry White, Toks Olagundoye (Castle) as Cat Grant, Max Mittleman (Justice League Action) as Jimmy Olsen, Paul Eiding (Ben 10: Omniverse) as Jonathan Kent, Jennifer Hale (Green Lantern: The Animated Series) as Martha Kent, Trevor Devall (Suicide Squad: Hell To Pay) as Dabney Donovan and Erica Luttrell (Salvation) as Mercy.
Produced by Warner Bros. Animation and DC Entertainment, the feature-length animated Reign of the Supermen arrives from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment on Digital starting January 15, 2019, and on Ultra HD Blu-ray Combo Pack and Blu-ray Combo Pack on January 29, 2019.