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Look, Up in the Sky

Look, Up in the Sky: The Amazing Story of Superman 2006

I just recently mentioned that many of these comic book documentaries all felt the same, with plenty of comic book illustrations and talking head interviews with artists and writers. This one is actually quite a notable step up and part of that comes with the pedigree. At least in part, it was created to tie in with Superman Returns, which brought about plenty of Superman nostalgia as it was basically created as a sequel to Superman II. It also helped bring about the Richard Donner cut of that movie, and as a result, this has a lot of star power in terms of its interviews. It also has a large amount of varying media depictions of Superman starting from the early radio programs all the way up through Smallville and Superman Returns. But similar to my recent viewing of the Shazam DC Spotlight, this didn’t feel like it was just a promotional vehicle for Superman Returns, it was a full fledged Superman documentary that gave equal weight to the new movie as it did every other part of Superman’s history. And it did such with a fair amount of interesting and entertaining information.

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DC Spotlight: Shazam!

DC Spotlight: Shazam! 2019

When I went to watch Batman Hush on DC Universe, there was another 2019 title listed right next to it called DC Spotlight: Shazam! I hadn’t heard about this title and when I checked it out, I noticed that it was 52 minutes which qualifies for my definition of feature length, it was a DC Universe Original, and the opening logo made it seem like the first in a possible series of these comic book documentaries. I’ve reviewed a handful of these types of documentaries in the past and it’s becoming more and more difficult just because they are all so similar to each other. They’re all varying degrees of interesting, as this one was, but there’s rarely enough to make it stand out as more than just another comic book documentary.

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Superguy

Superguy: Behind the Cape 2000

This review was partially decided by my fine patrons over at Patreon where each month I post a poll where they decide what movie I review during the latter half of the month. Or in this case, the early part of the next month. If you would like to see more of these, join in for just $1 a month. This movie is one that I found several years ago in a random clearance bin, put it in my DVD collection, and constantly put off watching it until now. Which is honestly a shame because despite the low production value I actually quite enjoyed this mockumentary. The acting and graphics are low budget and the humor is nearly nonexistent, but the world building and discussion surrounding this fictional Superguy was absolutely fascinating to me. It falls somewhere between Superman and Unbreakable with not even one tenth of the budget or talent, but there’s something worthwhile in there.

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Batman Unmasked: The Psychology of The Dark Knight

Batman Unmasked: The Psychology of The Dark Knight 2008

This is the second to last documentary style special that’s available to watch on the DC Universe streaming app, two of them were connected to Superman Returns and this was the second one that was attached to the Dark Knight. One of the interesting things that I noticed about the three that I’ve watched so far, and I believe it continues onto the last one, is how differently they handle their source material. In the Superman special, it embraced all sorts of different variations of Superman across movies and television. But the two Dark Knight specials seemingly prefer to completely ignore Batman’s past outside of the comic books and only show clips from Batman Begins and the Dark Knight. Just like the previous two specials, this has a mix of interviews, clips from the first two Nolan movies, and comic book style graphics as they discuss different aspects of Batman’s personality as well as some of his villains and how they relate to psychology. It’s fun, but similar to Batman Tech, it felt less like a stand alone documentary, and more like just promotion for the Dark Knight.

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The Science of Superman

The Science of Superman 2006

One of the shows that I used to enjoy when I was a kid was the early programming of the Discovery Channel and the Learning Channel back before they became the go-to channel for reality TV freak shows. There were plenty of shows on those two channels that were full of cutting edge technology and the like and in a way, this special follows that format. And while it does remind me of the Batman Tech special that I watched on the DC Universe app a couple weeks ago, where that felt very much like the promotional material for the Dark Knight that it was, while this was released in a similar way as Batman Tech, being shown on the National Geographic channel the day after the theatrical release, it really spread out the clips used between all sorts of Superman shows and cartoons alongside a fair amount of Superman Returns clips. It also helps that it was inspired by an actual book of the same name and they included the author alongside several of those interviewed for the special. Overall, it was a pretty good doc with a lot of interesting information and theories backed up by the shows and comic books of Superman that weren’t just Superman Returns.

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Secret Origin: The Story of DC Comics

Secret Origin: The Story of DC Comics 2010

There’s still a few more DC comics based documentaries on the DC Universe streaming app that I haven’t watched yet so I did a quick little Twitter poll to see which one I should check out next and this one won. I didn’t really know anything about this specific documentary but I pretty much assumed that it would cover the history of DC comics, which it did in a much better way than I anticipated. It was full of comics artwork, film and TV clips, and interviews and archival footage with many different important personalities in comics. The story that the film told was mixed with information that I already knew about sprinkled with some that I didn’t. It was interesting, informative, and entertaining. And even though it specifically calls him out on the poster, I didn’t realize that Ryan Reynolds narrated the doc until I saw his name on the end credits, and this film would be right around the time where he was filming Green Lantern.

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Batman Tech

Batman Tech 2008

I’ve been trying to go through everything in the DC Universe streaming app and while I’ve already seen all of the traditional movies, there’s another category called “Specials” that include the TV specials like the Aquaman Pilot and the Legends of the Superheroes minseries that I’ve already covered here, but there’s also a handful of what appear to be documentaries. And the first one I decided to check out was this one called Batman Tech. While I initially thought it seemed to be more like a DVD special feature for The Dark Knight, it was actually a promotional doc that aired on the History Channel during the Dark Knight’s opening weekend. But all in all, there was just enough there to review it as a short-but-still-feature-length documentary. And while we didn’t get much cinematic Batman, there’s a lot of info from the comics alongside some geeky real world tech stuff.

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Batman & Bill

Batman & Bill 2017

Everyone knows who Batman is, Bruce Wayne, billionaire, crimefighter. Not everyone knows who’s listed as the creator of Batman unless they’re a comics fan, and very few people unless they’re die-hard comics fans know who really created Batman. This documentary follows the research of novelist Marc Tyler Nobleman as he not only uncovers the seldom told story of Bill Finger but also manages to get him officially credited as the rightful co-creator of Batman right alongside Bob Kane. The documentary itself is a fascinating story that has a few surprises going for it as it tells its quest for recognition that was long overdue. The interviews are bolstered by comics inspired simple animations. It’s a story that I didn’t know but I’m glad I know it now.

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Doomed!

Doomed! The Untold Story of Roger Corman’s Fantastic Four 2016

In the superhero movie world there’s one big secret out there that’s very poorly kept, the fact that there was a Fantastic Four movie fully produced, completed, and then shelved never to be released back in 1994. It’s also fairly widely known to those with any hint of an interest that the film was made merely to extend a deadline for the filmmaking rights to the characters. The only problem was that everyone below the line was never aware of this, from the director to the actors, and all of the crew. This documentary tries to tell the rest of their story and is able to fill in quite a few gaps in this story, though the entirety may never be fully known since the executives who know the other side of the story aren’t exactly keen on sharing. But regardless, this doc paints a fascinating picture through the eyes of people who were passionate about making this little movie that could despite a low budget, a rushed schedule, and a practically non-existent post production. This is an early review and the film will be released digitally on October 11th and available on Blu-Ray and DVD on December 20th through distribution by Uncorkโ€™d Entertainment.
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Superbob

Superbob 2015

It’s time to catch up with another movie from last year that I wasn’t able to see because it wasn’t released here in the US. This is a little independent comedy from Grain Media and first time director Jon Drever. Often, I think to myself that there’s almost nowhere new that a superhero movie can go, it just has to do something that’s been done before well. And while there have been several concepts out there about a loser who gains super powers to become a superhero, there hasn’t been anything that’s gone quite the same way about it that Superbob does, and that’s not even discussing the pseudo-documentary style of it either. I initially wasn’t sure what to expect from this movie, but the nervous charm of Bob made me laugh quite a bit throughout the film and it has a nice heart at the center of it all. A pleasant surprise of a movie and currently available in the US to stream via Flix Premier.
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