Director: Bruce Timm
Cast: Alec Baldwin, Alec Marsters, Anne Heche
Review Author: Shaun
The next film we will look at in our DC animated series is the controversial Superman: Doomsday. Super Man Doomsday was the first direct-to-video feature of the new DC animated studios back in 2007. It was DC’s test the waters original to see how comic fans would react to seeing poplar comic story lines adapted into animation. The feature focuses on two of Superman’s biggest comic story arcs : “Death of Superman” & “Return of Superman” which were released in the early 1990’s and received outstanding public praise. Unfortunately the film is similar to Batman Vs Superman in that the film tries to fit in way-to-much in a short run time (in this case 80 minutes) and from a very few admirable yet limited exceptions, “Doomsday” doesn’t do very much with this short window. The story unfortunately disintegrates into an outright incoherent mess it neither does either story line justice.
The first question which needs to be answered is how do you cram a story that stretched over 38 comic book issues into a movie that runs under 80 minutes? Not very well, apparently. To begin with, you know you’re in trouble when one of your two title characters is only in a third of your movie. To call it “Doomsday” implies that we’ll be dealing entirely with the Doomsday portion of the “Death of Superman” saga, either leaving the “Return of Superman” angle for another film or whipping up some new, non-death ending. (Spoiler alert! In “Death of Superman,” Superman died! Who would have guested!!) And what a great film that could have been, with a long, slow build-up to Superman’s adversary, Doomsday’s eventual arrival. The third act could have been devoted to the mammoth battle between the two unstoppable titans. The filmmakers could have even killed off Superman in the end, only to follow with a sequel bringing him back (My god DC can we play the long game).
Instead we get a movie that wants to squeeze two long running comic story lines into a 80 minute run time to cover “Death” to “Return,” but without expanding the run time to cater for these iconic story lines. This means: Doomsday’s arrival is rushed, with very little impact on the viewer. The Superman/Doomsday battle, while impressive, is over all too early, essentially deleting the titular villain from his own movie. the rush to get on with Superman’s funeral and return means Doomsday’s defeat is utterly unexplained (he just sort of disappears completely after he’s punched out, and the very notion of mentioning what happened to him – or that he even mattered to the story line! – is forgotten within thirty seconds); the remaining too-tight running time means the “Return” story line must be massively condensed in all the wrong ways, leaving us bored and frustrated with the mess on hand.
Despite all this, there are still a few moments which shine. Some throw away scenes here and there makes for some interesting filler. Seeing some of the comics’ most indelible images come to life surely is to impress any fanboy (myself included). But perhaps the biggest blunder is something as simple as a few lines. When developing the animation style for “Doomsday,” its producers opted not to use the new franchise as a chance to overhaul its decade-old character designs. Here, everybody looks more or less exactly like they did when “Superman: The Animated Series” debuted; characters get a few tweaks but for the most part, they’re still quite recognisable as being connected to the former series.
Overall “Superman: Doomsday” is a slapdash mess of a movie that never even approaches its potential as a mature superhero fantasy. The movie hits wrong turn with every move, ultimately collapsing long before the closing credits arrive. However, Superman fans should definitely give it a watch so they can check out the marvellous 80 minute rushed “Death and Rebirth” of superhero’s biggest icon.
Do you agree? Have you seen the film? Let me know what you think down below and we can get a little discussion going, I have been Shaun and thanks you reading!