Reviewing DC’s Reign of the Supermen, the latest, animated Superman story.
Last year we got The Death of Superman and it was certainly a win. One of DC’s first animated films is already upon us – The Reign of the Supermen. How does this new installment in the DC Animated Movie Universe stand?
Synopsis of The Reign of The Supermen
The Reign of the Supermen picks up right after The Death of Superman. There are new Supermen on the scene, including Superboy, The Eradicator, Cyborg-Superman and Steel. Lois and The Daily Planet are quick to want to know what is going on. What happened to Superman’s body. Plus, who are these guys? Each Superman has a different agenda you can argue, without giving too much away. Meanwhile, the Justice League is stretched thin and of course Lex Luthor has his own plans with the use of Superboy.
The Flaws of The Reign of The Supermen
This can be hard to truly explain without giving away spoilers. The film feels a bit cluttered with too much going on. We have these four Supermen to handle and it becomes a juggling act. If anything, Superboy and Cyborg-Superman get most of the screen-time. Steel has his part, but The Eradicator gets shafted to a less than a secondary character. His background is different too and feels we do not have The Eradicator, but just an empty plot device.
Cyborg-Superman does have the usual origin but they involve another villain, one they have not used in the DC Animated Movie Universe for quite some time. Sure, it is great to see this character but it takes the excitement out of the film. No longer does this feel like The Reign of The Supermen. Instead, it feels like a huge cross-over film that is setting up another film, à la Avengers. Even the way the Justice League is taken out feels a bit forced. This is a problem going back to the first film with including the Justice League. Is this a Superman movie? Is it a Reign of The Supermen movie? More of a DC Comics movie in general, where Lois is probably the most dominant character. Nothing against Lois, but it is a bit awkward.
The Pros of The Reign of The Supermen
It is great that the film gets into action right away. You feel like you can watch both movies back-to-back as one whole film. The film does not treat you as if you did not watch the previous installment. They could have wasted time on Lois mourning, but she gets off her butt in no time. Hence, she becomes sort of the central lead in the film. Yes, odd but a welcome change. It makes sense as Superman is fighting for Lois in the first film. Now she must fight for him. They keep the mystery for each Superman as long as possible, including the real one.
Yes, the way they deal with the Justice League is a bit lazy. Nonetheless, the fact they do not play a large role is certainly a plus. DC seems to usually have a problem with making movies that are not Justice League or Batman centered. But without the Justice League we do not get what is a great scene with Lois and Wonder Woman. Plus, we need them gone so we can get plenty of the other Supermen saving the day. One fun perk is the nineties-ness of Superboy, as they kind of poke fun at this.
Reign of The Supermen does feature some great action and drama. We have all four Supermen fighting at one point. The final scene is especially great with Cyborg-Superman and Lois. The action packs plenty of blows and hits that make you cringe. Without giving too much away, who helps really save the day, in the end, is a nice change as well. Lastly the film is better than The Death of Superman on a more technical level, for example the audio is better.
In the end, if you are a The Reign of Supermen purist then this is not the film for you. Is it a bad film though? Of course not, it has some fun scenes, good dialogue, with lots of Lois and Lex. This is a plus if you like them a lot. Again, the problem is the film tries to juggle too much.
We have Superman’s death and solving that. You have the four Supermen, with their origins. We have Cyborg-Superman’s altered origin which is a two part plan kind of. Then throw in the Justice League as well. Check it out if you want some closure to The Death of Superman. Otherwise, stick to the comics I would argue.