If Spider-Man can have a movie about all his knock-offs, why can’t Superman? Sorry, no Superham.
Six months have passed since the death of Superman at the hands of Doomsday, and the world is still in mourning. In his place, Superman knock-offs have been protecting Metropolis including Steel, Superboy, Cyborg Superman, and the mysterious Eradicator. Lois Lane mourns in her own way by investigating the arrival of these new heroes and finding out each of their origins.
Meanwhile, the Justice League is launching their satellite watchtower into space. Unfortunately, a timely attack causes an accident where the entire Justice League disappears. The world is left in the hands of the Supermen. But, as Cyborg Superman comes to be accepted his evil origins as Darkseid’s pawn are revealed, and he is building an army of cyborgs.
Just as things are about to culminate, the real Kal El wakes up from his “revitalization cycle”. Unfortunately, his powers aren’t quite what they used to be. In order to stop Darkseid and Cyborg Superman, it is going to take the real Superman and his other knock-offs. But, can they stop the alien titan and return the Justice League to Earth?
It’s finally here! I have been absolutely jonesing for the release of Reign of the Supermen. This has been an event to countdown to since last year’s release of Death of Superman – which you can find the review for here. The DC Animated Universe has been creating some of the best superhero movies you can watch, but they often go unappreciated. Hopefully, the hype over Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse will translate into a more significant buzz regarding the amazing work DC has been doing with animated film. Honestly, DC should just take their entire movie budget, invest it all in their animated universe, and just let Marvel have the live-action industry for now.
The death and return of Superman was monumental to the comic book world in 1992. When Superman died, it shook the entire comic book industry, changing the way these stories are told and the media has not been the same since. Since that fateful year, the story of Superman’s death at the hands of Doomsday has been retold countless times. In fact, last year’s animated film was the third time the event had appeared on screen, being previously animated in 2007, and on the big screen in 2017’s Justice League. However, the story of what happened after Superman died in the comic books has been distorted and re-imagined in each iteration up until now.
It is kind of funny that I mentioned Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. As that movie gave us a view of the many other Spider-people out there, this one provides us with a look at some other Supermen. Each of them were characters that took over after Supes death in the comics. Most of them were never genuinely accepted by fans. Steel is still the surviving most popular version, and Superboy has been through so many deaths and resurrections it is hard to keep track of which one is which anymore. But, these 90’s versions of Superman all have something going for them.
The Eradicator was by far the most mysterious, and this film did a great job at unwinding his tale. Superboy’s plot was also handled well, as the little punk can be hard to like, but his background makes it understandable. And, of course, Cyborg Superman is a bad-ass through and through and ultimately became the center of the plot. Steel may have been glanced over pretty quickly in this film, but the protector of the streets didn’t need a more prominent role. My biggest complaint was with the true Kal El. While I was happy to see him come back if it was only six months since his death, why did it look like he hadn’t cut his hair in 10 years?
With all of these intertwining Supermen and their stories, I would have been worried that this film was going to be sloppy and confusing. However, there is a steady flow the whole way through. The origins of each character was revealed at the proper moments and seeing these four Supermen battle early in the movie was pretty satisfying. I could have used a little more of the Justice League, but I guess I’ll have to hold out until the next Justice League movie.
The Reign of the Supermen may be a sequel and part of a bigger ongoing universe, but the movie holds its own. I don’t feel like you would need any of the other films to understand what is going on here and that is important as comic book movies become more and more popular. What is also great is the contrast between this film and Death of Superman. Let’s be honest, Death of Superman is nothing more than a slug-fest between two of the most powerful beings in pop culture. It’s what it needs to be, and we love it for it. While the return of Superman is a complex woven story that has many moving pieces. Sure, there are some slug fests to enjoy, but this is a layered plot with lots more to enjoy.
Making this film was a risk, considering this story-line was considered a failure in the comic books. Condensing the plot actually helps it work out a lot smoother, and kudos to the writers who executed this script almost flawlessly. I am always impressed with the DC Animated Universe, but somehow they still manage to surprise me in new ways. This may not be the best of their filmography, but it is an accomplishment of its own. I would recommend this movie to any comic book fan, or anybody who wants to see a few Supermen beat each other up. Which is most of us.