The Death of Superman in 1992 was an epic comic book event, unlike any that had come before. While elements of the comic had been taken for 2007’s Superman: Doomsday animated film and 2016’s big-budget Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, there had yet to be a fully faithful adaptation of the comic story.
The new The Death of Superman animated movie, set the DC Animated Movie Universe (DCAMU) is meant to correct that. And while some elements are tweaked to fit into that continuity, The Death of Superman is a terrific adaptation that captures the spirit and much of the plot of the original story.
Despite being a direct-to-home media movie, The Death of Superman immediately belongs in the discussion of the best DC animated movies and best Superman movies of all-time. It is available now on 4k UHD, blu-ray, DVD, and with digital retailers.
Review of The Death of Superman movie
Written by Peter J. Tomasi and directed by Sam Liu and Jake Castorena, The Death of Superman is easily the most faithful adaptation of the 90s comic book and a real treat for fans of Superman. Much more of the basic plot is kept in, compared to other adaptations, while also taking elements of Funeral For a Friend/World Without a Superman.
The greatest strength of the movie is a wonderful script by Superman and Super Sons comic book writer Peter J. Tomasi. The story and pacing is great, but the characterization of Clark Kent/Superman, Lois Lane, other Superman characters and the entire Justice League is phenomenal.
The script is filled with so much heart and heroism that is essential to any great Superman story. Tomasi puts such care into Clark Kent and his entire world. This movie shows the importance of Superman in the DC Universe and how he inspires and impacts Metropolis and the rest of the world.
The film is also filled with Easter eggs and nods to the greater Superman mythology. Characters like Bibbo Bibbowski, Cat Grant, Maggie Sawyer, and Dan Turpin, among others, are quickly established in the world of Superman.
These characters and more help to quickly establish Superman’s supporting cast. They also help to subtly set up the sequel, Reign of the Supermen, while supporting, not distracting from, this story.
The Death of Superman is also solidly directed by Liu and Castorena. You will be used to the character designs if you have seen the DCAMU movies before. The action is excellent and the prize fight between Superman and Doomsday is suitably epic and has everything one would hope for.
Changes from the original comic book storyline certainly exist, but are mostly kept to a minimum and done as a way of fitting into the current continuity. For instance, at the time of the comic, Lois Lane and Clark Kent were engaged. However, in the DCAMU, Superman and Wonder Woman had a previous relationship that needed to be addressed.
Really, the biggest complaint about the movie is that it is a modestly budgeted direct-to-home media adaptation. That is not a dig at the animation style or any of the work by the cast and crew. Just a belief that a Superman story this great and well-written deserves to be seen on the biggest screen by the largest amount of fans possible.
The chemistry between real-life couple Jerry O’Connell (as Clark Kent/Superman) and Rebecca Romijn (as Lois Lane) is dynamite. O’Connell is a regular in the DCAMU and is strong as both Clark Kent and Superman. This is Romijn’s first voice role as Lois Lane and she is a pleasant surprise.
Their relationship is handled with great care and is the emotional backbone of the story. I hope to see this Lois and Clark relationship developed further in more animated Superman movies.
The rest of the voice cast is strong as well. Rainn Wilson as Lex Luthor can be difficult to get used to at first, especially for fans of Dwight Schrute on The Office. By the end of the film, however, Wilson establishes himself as a solid Luthor.
For a longer audio review, we went into detail (both non-spoiler and spoiler sections) on The DC Drop Podcast #4.
Video and Audio Quality
The video and audio quality of The Death of Superman is very strong. I have heard many complaints about the 4k UHD versions of DC animated movies not providing a significant enough upgrade to warrant the extra cost over a blu-ray.
That can be a fair criticism, and I wish there was a bit more done to separate the standard blu-ray from the UHD version. Still, the highest quality way to watch The Death of Superman is with the 4k UHD version.
Not only does it offer some increased clarity, the HDR allows the colors to pop more in certain spots. If you want to save a few bucks to go with the blu-ray, I won’t argue with you. To me, it is worth it to watch such a great film in the best possible format.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz, 24-bit) of the movie provides good audio throughout. Audio is generally clean and crisp throughout, with strong effects and a solid score.
The Death of Superman features a solid, if small, set of special features. Unfortunately, no director or writer’s commentary is to be found among the list.
- The Death of Superman: The Brawl That Topped Them All (16 minutes) – A look at the epic battle between Superman and Doomsday from both the comic book and animated movie perspective.
- 2 Episodes of the Legion of Superheroes animated series, featuring a young Superman (45 minutes) – Dark Victory, Part 1, and Dark Victory Part 2, the final episodes of the series.
- A Sneak Peak at DC Universe’s Next Animated Movie, Reign of the Supermen (9 minutes) – a promotional featurette that previews the sequel to The Death of Superman.
The Death of Superman is a wonderful movie that instantly earns a spot near the top of not only DC animated movies, but all Superman movies as well.
While it wouldn’t be surprising if the movie is eventually released in a single, deluxe edition with the sequel, Reign of the Supermen, it is absolutely worth getting now for Superman and superhero fans.
Disclosure: The views expressed in the review above are my own based on a purchased copy of the item. If you purchase a copy through the links to Amazon, this site will receive compensation at no extra cost to you.