Superman - Doomsday (DC Universe Animated Original Movie) (2007)

Actors: Adam Baldwin, Anne Heche, James Marsters, John Di Maggio, Tom Kenny
Lauren Montgomery, Bruce W. Timm
Animated, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Widescreen
Region: 1 (U.S. and Canada only)
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Number of discs:
Run Time:
75 minutes



The first ever Superman animated movie (as the DVD packaging informs us) is a bit of a missed opportunity.

Luthorcorp underground drillers inadvertently release the deranged super-powered villain from what appears to be an alien prison. The psychotic creature goes on a killing spree and Superman has to stop him in the sort of spectacular slugfest that would break the budget on any live action movie.

Warner Bros. animation usually does sterling work with its various comic book properties; titles such as Teen Titans, Batman Beyond and JLA springs to mind, but Superman Doomsday has several flaws that threaten to derail the entire project altogether.

First off, there's the material. Superman Doomsday retells a bit of the whole Superman is dead storyline that caused such an unprecedented media uproar back in the early-1990s. However, as was the case in those comics, the Superman is dead plot line was just a prologue - and not the main event - to an even longer, more epic story. Here the movie takes off into a completely different direction, which is a good thing because (a) the original storyline was too convoluted and complex to condense into a brief 75-minutes running time and (b) it was somewhat silly.

In retrospect the whole Superman comes back from death with a mullet thing (which he does here too) was a mistake. The Doomsday villain was out of step with the Superman universe. The character was simply too dark for a Superman comic - wantonly and brutally killing off wildlife (in one scene in this movie he breaks the neck of a deer) and innocent bystanders. Right or wrong, but the comic book world of Superman has always been death-free. Doomsday was so mean-spirited and nasty that the character always seemed to have stumbled in from a different comic book title (Spawn perhaps) altogether.

As an attempt to bring Superman into the more mature direction comics were taking at the time seems as misguided and off as the bad haircut Superman was allowed to sport for a while and the actual sight of Superman bleeding in his climactic fight with Doomsday.

Superman Doomsday is rated PG-13 and rightly so.

There are several elements and characters in the movie that seems more suited to, let's say, Batman. You get: a knife-wielding Chucky-like doll threatening children, a Tim Burton-like villain named the Toy Maker in a giant mechanical spider holding small children in a school bus hostage, Doomsday brutally crushing to death several bystanders as well as breaking the neck of a deer and Doomsday threatening to hit a small girl in addition to all the other general cartoon violence and property destruction.

One thing the Donner movies always realized was that Superman was a light character and that if you wanted dark you ought to check out Batman. Which is why he is called the Dark Knight you know.

Also, while the animation is good as always, some of the character art work is just as ?off? as the sight of Superman bleeding or Jimmy Olson puking. Most distracting is Superman's high and very prominent cheek bones that seems just, well, wrong. It makes the character look a lot older than he is supposed to be.

Superman Doomsday is also a missed opportunity since there is already a great ?Superman Lives? script, namely the one which Clerks director Kevin Smith wrote eons ago while a big screen Superman Returns movie was floating around in the production Phantom Zone. I mention this as Kevin Smith actually makes a cameo appearance as a comic book guy commenting on the action in one scene. It's a pity that Smith didn't try selling them his old unused script as it would have been a whole lot better than what finally made it to the TV screen here . . .

That Superman Doomsday isn't a complete misfire says much about the talented folks at Warner Bros animation. Ultimately the movie isn't bad, just a disappointment.

THE DISC: Beware the carton packaging on this disc! One of those 3-D moving art work affairs it is calculated to induce nausea. The extras on the disc are a whole lot better though. Particularly of interest to comic book fans is Requiem and Rebirth: Superman Lives, a 50 minutes or so documentary chronicling the whole ?Superman is dead? episode back then, interviewing all the principal writers and artists involved.

Also worth checking out on the disc are some of the trailers for upcoming Warners Home Video releases such as the upcoming Blade Runner DVD (no, we can't wait either) and the interesting animated Justice League - The New Frontier movie in production right now.


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