Starring: Jerry O’Connell, Rebecca Romijn, Rainn Wilson, Patrick Fabian, Charles Halford, Cameron Monaghan, Cress Williams, Rosario Dawson, Nathan Fillion, Jason O’Mara
Written By: Various
Directed By: Sam Liu
Studio: Warner Bros. Animation
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With Superman dead, four unlikely super heroes appear on the scene to try and fill the void left by the Man of Steel. Lois Lane and the Justice League are weary of these self-proclaimed Supermen and seek to discover their true origins.
“Reign of the Supermen” is a direct sequel to last year’s release “The Death of Superman” and picks up six months after the Man of Steel’s demise at the hands of Doomsday. Much like in the comic books we are introduced to Superboy, Steel, the Eradicator and Cyborg Superman. Superboy is Lex Luthor’s poster boy, the Eradicator has a vicious and deadly way of fighting crime, Steel is a man in a suit of armor with a large sledgehammer and the Cyborg Superman, while half man and half machine, seems to have Superman’s memories and is closest in personality to the original.
But also much like in the comics, each of these Supermen has their own ulterior motives. Superboy discovers that he is a clone of Superman and Lex Luthor’s DNA, the Eradicator is a Kryptonian weapon absorbing energy for an unknown source, Steel fights for truth and justice in honor of Superman and Cyborg Superman is actually Hank Henshaw turned into an evil cyborg who wants revenge on Superman.
There are plenty of similarities to the comics but as with all of the animated DC universe movies, they take their own direction to provide viewers with new and unique twists. In “Reign of the Supermen” we get to see the Justice League more involved in the plot both physically and emotionally and Lois Lane isn’t as much of a hot mess as she was in the comics. Supergirl isn’t involved in the Lex Luthor side of things and the reveal of Luthor having a hand in programming Superboy’s DNA with his own is revealed almost immediately where in the comics it was revealed much later. This helps set up Superboy AKA Conner Kent’s internal/moral plotline much earlier as well as his possibility of joining the Teen Titans sooner than expected. There is also the involvement of Darkseid in Cyborg Superman’s origin which seems to be setting up Darkseid possibly invading the Earth once again but this time with allies on Earth already.
While I’m a fan of DC splitting up the “Death of” and Reign of” storylines into two separate movies, I really feel that this would have worked best as a trilogy. There is so much story that seems glossed over between Superman’s death and his resurrection that ending with the reappearance of Superman at the end of this movie would have set up an epic battle between the weakened Superman and Cyborg Superman. The eradication of Coast City by Cyborg Superman and Mongul isn’t touched on yet but that would be a great setup for the Green Lantern/Cyborg Superman feud that took place in the comics as well as setting up the fall of Hal Jordan and Parallax going ape-shit on the GL Corps. This could still happen in the future but seems less likely due to the outcome of the movie.
I thought it was a great tribute to the comics to have Superman reappear in a weakened state in his black suit complete with long hair, stubble and a need for using guns. It’s so totally 90s but, as the lack of this look in the current DC live action movies shows, this is something fans wanted to see. It was also great to see Lois Lane doing some saving to Superman during the final showdown with Cyborg Superman. With Superman revealing his identity to Lois in the last movie, it’s good to see that the DC animated peeps are evolving their relationship into more of an equal partnership as it should be.
There are plenty of things to be excited for moving forward in the DC animated universe following “The Reign of the Supermen”. There are four new major players in the world now, Darkseid is looming in the background once again, Lex Luthor wants to join the Justice League and Superman is back from the dead. “The Death of Superman” was one of the best out of all of the DC animated movies and “The Reign of the Supermen” was a worthy yet flawed follow up but with plenty of new ideas to push the universe forward. With the next two movies announced being a Bruce Timm-inspired “Justice League vs The Fatal Five” and “Batman: Hush”, it may be awhile before we see those things take fruition.
• Lex Luthor: The Greatest Nemesis
• A Sneak Peek at DC Universe’s Next Animated Film “Justice League vs. the Fatal Five”
• From the Comics Vault – 2 Bonus Cartoons
DTS-HD Master Audio English 5.1 Dolby Digital
English SDH, French and Spanish Subtitles
1080p High Definition 16×9 1.78:1
Bottom Line: While it feels rushed in certain aspects story-wise, “The Reign of the Supermen” is something that fans have wanted to see in animated or live-action form for quite some time and does an excellent job of paying tribute to the comics while still containing an original story. The four new Supermen will surely become a major part of DC animated universe.
Running Time: 87 Mins