Superman Doomsday 2007
This was advertised as the first animated Superman movie rated PG-13 and was really the start of the DC Animation boom that’s continued to this day. Before this, most of the movies released were drawn from the various animated series like Batman, Batman Beyond, and The Adventures of Superman. This one was based on one of the most popular comic books of all time, the Death of Superman, though there were many significant changes to the story. I was actually vaguely familiar with the Death of Superman story because one of my friends bought into the whole craze at the time so I read through the first issue shortly after it first came out. When this movie came out, I had heard that there was a brief cameo by Kevin Smith which referred to the giant mechanical spider he was asked to include during his work on the Superman Lives script. In the end, it turned out pretty well, though I do think it is one of the weaker animated projects, likely due to the fact that it was one of the earlier ones.
As it is based on the Death of Superman, the majority of the story revolves around Superman’s death and the aftermath that follows. One problem that I tend to have when going through and watching a lot of these different Superman stories is that so many of them take place in different moments in the Clark/Superman/Lois relationship. Not only that but so many of them, this one included, includes the moment when Lois finds out that Superman in Clark Kent. Here, she and Superman have been dating in secret for several months, but she has been specifically dating Superman and he has not revealed his secret identity as Clark Kent to her yet. She only realizes this connection after seeing Martha Kent attend Superman’s funeral and visits her in one of the best scenes of the movie.
Also, since this was one of the first DC Animated movies, it was the first to use so-called stunt casting. Instead of using known voice actors to play the major roles in the movie, they use well known actors to help play off of their names in the credits, even though most of the names aren’t A-list, or even B-list depending on who you talk to. Adam Baldwin probably best known for playing Jayne on Firefly plays Superman, and I think he does a fine job of it. My problem mainly lies with Anne Heche as Lois Lane, I just had a hard time wrapping my head around her voice as Lois, it just never really fit the character quite right, even though she did a great job during the more emotional scenes, I didn’t feel like she had the right investigative reporter vibe. And finally James Marsters, best known as Spike from Buffy, plays Lex Luthor and also does a fine job.
The story reminded me of the complete other side of the coin of All Star Superman, which is a more recent movie that is also centered around the Death of Superman in a completely different way. Doomsday is mostly centered around a couple big fights, the first being between Superman and Doomsday, the supposedly robotic grey creature covered in bone spikes, and the second between Superman and Superman. The part in between is focused on how the rest of Metropolis handles Superman’s death. The fights were both impressive in scale, and managed to work on a more emotional level, and the story moved pretty quickly between the different acts, not wasting much time getting to the next section. And while I surprisingly knew about one of the big changes, the fact that after Superman dies, he was replaced in the comic by four different Supermen all claiming to be him in one way or another. This movie went in a different direction combining elements of all four into a single character. I thought it was fitting and it worked in this setting better than trying to muddle it up with four different characters in such a short timeframe
One other problem I had with this movie was the design of Superman. The biggest issue I had was the dark lines on his cheeks. I suppose they were supposed to give him a more chiseled look, but I thought they just looked weird. The violence was well done, but compared to the much more violent Dark Knight Returns, it felt very tame by comparison with most of the violence happening off screen, but when it was used, it was done well. Especially the second scene with the Toyman. It definitely shows its age for being the first of these animated movies that have grown in scope and quality over the past several years, but it’s still worth a look, unless you’re more of a comic book purist as this movie makes many changes to the comic book compared to the much more faithful recent adaptations. Until next time, this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.