Sunday, November 16, 2008

Doomsday The Movie

Today I watched the Superman/Doomsday animated film for the first time. I hadn't watched it before because, well, frankly I didn't like the Death of Superman story and really disliked Doomsday himself.

So I was very pleasantly surprised that I enjoyed that film, in that it improved vastly on the original story.

As in the original story, Doomsday himself isn't significant at all; he's the thinnest of plot devices to get to 'the Death of Superman'. In the animated version, the first is mercifully brief; we don't have to watch Doomsday swat his way through a host of other heroes. I could always believe that Doomsday killed Superman before anyone else had time to help; I could never swallow that the entire of the superhero community couldn't have simply and quickly transported him to deep space somewhere, or captured him with the JLA transporter or something.

The contrast between Lex and Superman has never been starker. Lex curing muscular distrophy while staring out the window, while Superman, unable to cure cancer, regrets his role as merely Earth's resident strongman. And Lex, with his Mercy-killing? Plus "Why did you leave me?" and "Who's your daddy?" Yes, this Lex has issues.

I liked the simplification of the plot of what happens when Superman is "dead". Instead of just weepy encomiums, we get to see, through the actual degeneration of certain characters (Lois's death wish, Jimmy's sell-out, Perry's drinking) and Metropolis as a whole, that Superman's chief contribution is as an inspiration rather than a protector. Rather than the Reign of the Four Substitute Superman, we got just one sub who embodies the "No, that's not what Superman stands for" concept. And creepy! As shocking as the Toyman scene was, the scene with the cat was bone-chilling, particular since you know that, well, he's right.

Don't get me wrong; Superboy and Steel were great characters, and, while the Cyborg Superman and the Eradicator weren't great, they did provide fodder for many subsequent stories. But the "superclone" was a much way to get to the heart of the "What Would Superman Do?" issue.

I appreciated the little touches around the Fortress: Brainiac's skull, one of the robots from the Fleischer cartoons, and the Bottle City. And, YES, I laughed at the gratuitous Kevin Smith joke for the Superman insiders...!

The plot also fixed some glaring holes in the original, such as making it clear that Superman was never actually dead, and providing a plausible reason why Clark Kent's absence after Superman's death didn't reveal his secret identity.

In fact, the whole viewing experience made me think that perhaps we should let them make these movies first, and then pattern comic books after them!

What did you think of Superman: Doomsday?

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Comments:
I had heard mixed things about the film before I saw it, so I was surprised by how much I liked it. For me it had a lot to do with the quality of the vocal performances, especially Anne Heche's take on Lois Lane, which managed to hit all of the qualities that make her character so compelling and even--in one scene--affected me enough to invoke tears.

I can't compare it to the comics, since I wasn't reading them back in high school when the original event occurred, but I can compare it to the other DC direct to dvd movies and I say its a worthy effort that definitely has me looking forward to the Wonder Woman film coming in the near future.
 
Thanks! I hated the comic but I might give the DVD a shot based on your review.
 
I'm intrigued as well. I was put off by what seemed an intentional departure from the quality "Superman Adventures" team, and I also thought "The Death of Superman" was lame. I will miss John Henry Irons, but the rest sounds promising.
 
You know, maybe I should watch this again. I bought it the day it was released and watched it, and felt disappointed. I agree that the original death of superman story was lacking, but it's the story that got me seriously into comics. I bought the occasional issue at the local convenience store, but that was the story that got me into comics every Wednesday, it holds a special place in my heart.

I'm going to watch it again with a more open mind.
 
One of my friend has also seen this movie & he really liked it…..
 
I was surprised at how much better it was than the slumber-inducing live action SUPERMAN RETURNS that came out at roughly the same time.
 
So I was very pleasantly surprised that I enjoyed that film, in that it improved vastly on the original story.

The phrase "nowhere to go but up" comes to mind.
 
I have to agree with Patrick C...
"I bought it the day it was released and watched it, and felt disappointed." I was not pleased with it.
 
I was kinda disturbed by the collateral damage... So many apparently populated buildings leveled in the battles. Many Superman himself intentionally flew through or tossed his opponents though. I am sure Garth Ennis' Boys or Kingdom Come Supes would not approve.
 
That shook me, too, for a second until I realize the obvious answer that

um...

Superman must have used his x-ray each time to determine which buildings were, in fact, unoccupied.

Yes.
 
Huh. I hadn't gone out of my way to see this yet, since I didn't care for "Death Of Superman" in comic-book form... not to mention it's probably a little too adult for my 5-year-old. Now I want to check it out.
 
Superman must have used his x-ray each time to determine which buildings were, in fact, unoccupied.

In the commentary the filmmakers admit that they too were troubled by this, which is why they took the time to change the artwork so each destroyed building has its lights turned off and is therefore conceivably vacant at the time.

Works for me.
 
It played over the weekend on Cartoon Network, fwiw.
 
Like you, I was never crazy about the comic, but I found that the movie contained some rather pleasant surprises. I thought the handling of Lex, in particular, was SUPERB -- one of the best screen depictions of him, to my mind. That says a lot for me, because I never thought Lex in the comics was as particularly interesting villain.
 
What relaly bothered me about the comic was that one issue where Superman "died". Many, many people who didn't usually buy comics bought that issue on speculation. Many, many people who didn't usually read comics read that issue. And what was it? A 22-page fight scene. DC had a unique opportunity to change the opinions of people who believed comics were nothing but SOCK! BAM! POW! and instead chose to reinforce that opinion.
 
But there was really no reason for DC to think that this was going to be read by so many people who didn't usually read comics. This was when comics were selling like crazy, and pretty much anyone who was going to be reading comics was reading them.
It was also before everyone was online and every website was posting solicitations. There was no advance warning it was coming.
And there was no precedent. By the time Spider-Man revealed his identity or Captain America was killed, we knew what an "event" like this could lead to. But nothing like "The Death of Superman" had really played out before.
 
But there was really no reason for DC to think that this was going to be read by so many people who didn't usually read comics.

I respectfully disagree. There was so much media coverage in major mainstream news outlets, DC could reasonably have expected people who didn't read comics to read it on curiosity. Of course, they gave these people no reason to read another issue beyond that.
 
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