Saturday, 26 January 2019

Reign of the Supermen ★★★☆☆

‘Reign of the Supermen’ is the latest DC animation, which follows on from ‘The Death of Superman’. Taking place 6 months afterwards, the residents of Metropolis have come to accept that Superman is no longer with them but are still contemplating whether or not superheroes are needed in the city. Four new superheroes have appeared out of the blue with the intent of taking off over from Superman – cringe-worthy and prepubescent DNA lovechild clone of Superman and Lex Luthor (Rainn Wilson), Superboy (Cameron Monaghan), the mysterious Cyborg Superman (Jerry O’Connell/Patrick Fabien), the relentless and unforgiving The Eradicator (Charles Halford), and the armoured Steel (Cress Williams). Much of the media are ready to praise the four for looking after their city, but some are sceptical of whether they can be trusted.

There’s a lot more to the plot than just this of course, as an imminent threat looms over the city and the real Superman isn’t there to sort it out. Both Lois Lane (Rebecca Romijn) and Wonder Woman (Rosario Dawson) get together to suss out what’s going on with the emergence of the new superheroes, and the Justice League struggle to keep the city safe. Superboy struggles with his identity after discovering that he is a clone, and Lex Luthor even begins to redeem himself slightly. It’s all too much for 90 minutes though which is a shame – the storylines are all interesting and developed as well as they can be within such a short space of time, but they really do need more of it to flourish. The directors really seem to have gone for quantity over quality here, and it means that precious character-building scenes such as when Lois Lane and Wonder Woman bond over their love interest-relationships with Superman are few and far between, with fast-paced action taking precedence.

It still does a better job than ‘The Death of Superman’ though and is fairly accurate to the comic apart from the end, which is changed presumably to match up with everything else that’s going on within the universe. The animation is good, but not incredible, and the action scenes are exciting to watch and quite slick. Sometimes action scenes in animation feel repetitive and predictable but I didn’t get this from ‘Reign of the Supermen’. There’s also some interesting exploration of vigilantism, questioning whether vigilantes can really be trusted, and the negative aspect of following the crowd and blindly following others. “Be your own superhero” is the message that’s ricocheted between characters, which is empowering in a sense and reminds us not to rely so heavily on others like the residents of Metropolis have come to do.

It’s understandable if you’re not 100% happy with ‘Reign of the Supermen’, especially if you’re a comic book fan – it left me feeling like I’d watched a featurette of the story, without being given the opportunity to really scratch beneath the surface. The backstory isn’t really explored which is a real downfall and some characters feel unnecessary, but what is shown to the viewer is exciting and gripping as a storyline, even if it’s not as emotionally charged as it should have been. 

Hannah Read

Reign of the Supermen at CeX

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