Director: Lauren Montgomery, Bruce Timm
Writers: Duane Capizzi
Actors: Adam Baldwin, Anne Heche, James Marsters.
With The Death of Superman animated feature releasing next month, I thought I’d take a look back at one of my favourite DC Universe animated adaptations in preparation for it.
Superman: Doomsday came out in 2007 and pretty much kick-started WB and DC’s original animated movies line. It loosely adapted the Death and Return of Superman story arc and set it in a universe that seemed devoid of any other superheroes besides the Man of Steel, from what I could tell.
That alone was a significant departure from the classic comic storyline, but Doomsday didn’t stop there with carving its own path in this retelling which, I must admit, is something I’m entirely glad for.
Certain aspects of the storyline stayed true to what we’ve seen from this arc. We have the titular monster carving a monstrous path of death and dismemberment across America to Metropolis and the major character relationship between Superman and Lois and his eventual unveiling to her, along with his resurrection.
This time around Lexcorp unleashes Doosmday from deep within the bowels of the Earth, where some alien race had imprisoned him millennia ago. From there Doomsday murders his way to Metropolis where Superman finally finds himself confronted with a far more powerful force than he's ever faced before.
At a scant 1 hour and 15 minutes long, Doomsday fills itself with an impressive amount of plot, action and character moments. The relationship between Superman and Lois feels real and manages to convey the impressive history these characters have and the depth of their feelings in what amounts to a handful of scenes.
Doomsday’s arrival on the scene happens early in the movie and still stands as one of the best superhero fight sequences I’ve ever seen, animated or live-action. From the pure brutality of Doomsday, to the building shattering blows decimating Metropolis, it’s a magnificently animated and scored sequence that ends with Superman’s “death” early on.
From there the movie departs even further from the source material before presenting us with another impressive, city-wide fight that comes close to equalling what came before.
As Metropolis falls into despair, major characters like Jimmy Olsen manage to lose their way in a world without Superman and as the death of a child horrifies Metropolis, we have Superman’s return and him dealing with a child killer in the way we wish all superheroes would at some point or the other. Only, it’s not really him, is it?
Doomsday manages to take the rather sloppy Reign of The Supermen story arc from the comics and does its own magic with it that I rather prefer than the rubbish that was Superboy, Cyborg Superman and Eradicator from the original comics.
Lex has managed to clone Superman in this retelling and sent him out into the world while Superman, rescued from Lexcorp by his trusty super-robot, is recovering. It’s not long before Lex’s superclone goes off-reservation and it’s up to a recently revived, and seriously under-powered Superman to face off-against a version of him from a mirror darkly.
Cue the movies second, impressive fight sequence as Metropolis is put through the grinder again as titans clash and we have one Superman who doesn’t hold back showing you exactly why you don’t mess with Superman.
Adam Baldwin, easily one of the strangest choices I thought to voice Superman, does a wonderful job as the Man of Steel. He brings an understated performance to the role that is filled with humility and gravitas. That he’s only voiced Superman in this one movie is criminal as far as I’m concerned. Anne Heche makes for a wonderful Lois Lane, equipping her with the right amount of fire that you’d expect from one of the world’s best investigative journalists and bringing just the right amount of pain when confronted with Superman’s death.
The rest of the voice cast fare just as well, though James Marsters does a stellar job selling Luthor as a cold, seriously twisted villain that is equally sociopathic and coldly manipulative at the same time.
From an animation point of view, Doomsday is wonderfully animated, and easily puts a lot of WB’s current DC Universe movies to shame. Metropolis’ streets are busy with people going about their lives or running for cover when the situation demands it, making WB’s later entries look clinical by comparison.
Bruce Timm’s design influence is all over this movie, with an older looking Superman and my favourite Doomsday design from them all. The monster comes across more as a machine in this adaptation then he does anything else and a true, physically imposing presence, and it fits the movie perfectly. The fights, which I’ve mentioned before, are glorious to behold.
Superman: Doomsday may not be everyone's cup of tea, especially for purists that want a far more faithful adaptation of the source material, but for my money, it’s still one of WB’s best animated features and one of the best Superman films I’ve ever seen.
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