Movies / Animé and Toons

Superman Doomsday – The First Warner Animation Premiere Animated Movie


By Hervé St-Louis
October 17, 2013 - 23:37

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Back in 2007, Warner Animation, the sister animation studio to Cartoon Network released the first direct to home animated movie featuring DC Comics characters. Superman Doomsday reprised the popular Death of Superman comic book storyline that had broken sales records in the early 1990s. After fighting Doomsday, an alien creature hidden under Earth’s crust, an injured Superman seemingly dies. Pissed at having his opportunity to defeat Superman stolen from him Lex Luthor creates a clone of the man of steel who quickly frees himself of the evil robber baron’s control. But are the intentions of this new Superman good or bad?

Apologies for reviewing this movie so late. Although it was originally released in 2007, I found no reviews for it at ComicBookBin so decided to rectify this long standing omission. What I like about this movie is that it shows the history of Warner Animation and Cartoon Network’s DC Comics super hero design. The Superman character that we see in this movie is based on the same design popularized by producer Bruce Timms and used since the Batman the Animated Series in 1992. However, his facial features are aged and coarser than the simple design he sported previously. Other characters such as Lois Lane and Lex Luthor were also slightly modified in this film, but remained very similar. The biggest changes were the voice actors. I found Adam Baldwin as Superman/Clark Kent to have a subtler and quieter voice than Tim Daly. He seemed less confident. Anne Heche as Lois Lane was annoying. While she tried to mimic Dana Delany’s remarkable and smart ass Lois Lane, she sounded nagging and didn’t pull the “Smallville” comments very well.

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The story attempts to update the Death of Superman story by doing away with any convoluted continuity element from the comics or the previous Superman Adventure series. There are no other super heroes in this world, although the story could serve as a follow up to the last Bruce Timms’ Superman appearance in Justice League Unlimited. The way I see this movie and other Warner Premiere movies featuring DC Comics’s properties is as a new universe where every movie reinterprets the styling of the characters differently, just like in comics. It’s  in animation, we are used to one unique design. Any change means the series is in another continuity. In comics, this is not the case and the diversity of styles is cherished. The design in this movie showed the limits of the Bruce Timms’ inspired look. Although it simplified all the action and offered opportunities for smart animated sequences, it could not deal with more violent themes and multiple deaths. Seeing characters get killed by Doomsday, even when it happens off screen conflicts with the children-friendly styling and art deco world that surrounds the main characters. In hindsight, Phil Bourassa’s update is a better choice for the kind of action that Warner Animation Studios wants portray.

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The death of Superman in this story was not epic. The movie did not spend much time on the actual funeral and moved right away to the aftermath with the brooding Lex Luthor and the mourning Lois Lane and Martha Kent. That’s a weak part of the plot. Although we feel Lois Lane’s struggle, it’s not enough to really make her the main protagonist in this movie. This animated movie could really have been about Lois Lane and how she relates to Superman. Her own journey would have inspired what the world thought of Superman. Instead of retreading themes unsuccessfully featured in the previous Superman Returns movie a year before, the story relied on detective Lois Lane. Jimmy Olsen here, had a chance to shine and grow, but his growth was not featured properly. It’s hinted that he should have changed with the return of the real Superman, but it is not portrayed in the conclusion of the film. Did he ever return to work for the Daily Planet or did he grow out of the sidekick reporter gig?

While I liked the Superman clone, because he wasn’t distinguished visually from the real Superman, he did not really develop a character of his own and died way too quickly and easily. Superman has faced Kryptonite threats many times and survived. The new Superman didn’t and like all evil clones had to die at the end of the story and pay for his transgressions with his life. Lex Luthor was as smart as ever and kept deducting important premises of the various events. I like that about him. I didn’t like how he dressed all in white, although it gave him a Steve Jobs quality.

The highlight of this movie are the big fights in the first arc with Superman versus Doomsday and in the last with Superman versus his clone. These will entertain, although how Metropolis is reconstructed so quickly after all the damaged taken during these huge fights is never depicted.

Rating: 7.5 /10


Last Updated: May 19, 2020 - 12:25

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