If superhero movies were sandwiches then you’d probably take them back to the shop. Not very adventurous, with a thin daub of plot-jam, sold as a luxury product in an artisan SFX wrap. DC Universes’ animated features, however, are a whole different dining experience. The visual bread may look a bit budget, but there’s so much filling you can barely get the thing in your mouth.
Ok, maybe that’s an analogy too far but, let’s face it, live action movies are big business and they can’t afford to take chances. So plots get watered-down, characters become stereotypes. And generally that’s fine. Especially when it comes to superhero movies because even if the plot-holes have plot-holes, guys in and power-armer hitting each other is never going to get old. But, if you’re looking for a superhero fix that’s less comic and more book, then DC/Warner Brother’s animated features have you covered.
The Death Of Superman—released last year—was based on the comic book of the same name. The film, which chronicled the battle between Superman and Doomsday, was the Animated Universes’ eleventh full-length film and took on one of DC’s most famous story arcs. The eagerly-awaited sequel, Reign Of The Supermen, gets its release this month.
Like all comic book adaptations, there’s a lot more going on in Reign Of The Supermen than meets the eye. Yes, you get to see all your favourite superheroes kicking ass, but there are also satisfying sub-plots that deal with society’s need for heroes, and the potential that we all have to step up and do the right thing. The inclusion of ‘Super Boy’ in the tale also adds an enraging what-if. What if Clark Kent had been raised in the full spotlight of fame, rather than by a retiring couple from Smallsville? What sort of Super Man might he have become? It’s the old nature versus nurture argument, but it’s fun to see it play out on screen all the same.
Reign Of The Supermen isn’t a slick product and that is a shame. More money thrown into the animation team’s budget could have made this a real ‘event release’—and Into The Spider Verse has shown that there’s an appetite for genuine grown-up animation, that’s true to the source material, and that doesn’t patronise the fans. However, when you’ve a great story, and top-notch voice artists, then there’s still an awful lot to enjoy.