Following an incredibly successful run of animated television shows during the 1990s and early 2000s (Batman: The Animated Series, Justice League Unlimited etc), DC Entertainment and Warner Bros. Animation began developing a series of feature-length animated movies. The films – which would be released direct-to-video – would adapt iconic comic book stories from the DC Universe, in particular those featuring top tier characters such as Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman.
The first of these movies was Superman: Doomsday, which hit video stores in September 2007. Directed by Bruce Timm, Lauren Montgomery, and Brandon Vietti, Superman: Doomsday featured the voices of Adam Baldwin, Anne Heche, and James Marsters, and was loosely based on the best-selling comic book storyline, The Death of Superman.
It has been a little while since I last watched Superman: Doomsday, so today I am revisiting the movie to see how well it holds up. The plan is to provide somewhat of a running commentary as I watch the movie, recording my thoughts along the way.
If you have not watched the movie before, and you wish to remain spoiler free, then go no further. For the rest of you, keep on reading and join me on a journey through Superman: Doomsday.
Superman: Doomsday (2007)
10secs – Before this movie properly begins, I should mention that due to the success of Superman: Doomsday, Warner Bros. Animation has produced a whole string of direct-to-video features all under the banner of DC Universe Animated Original Movies. The line now pumps out two or three different features a year and I am a big fan. The films have covered various comic book storylines and have served up a range of different stories, voice casts, and animation styles.
OK, onto the movie….
30secs – The first character to speak on screen is Lex Luthor, who is voiced by former Buffy/Angel actor, James Marsters. This is a great bit of casting, with Marsters on fine form.
2mins – Into the opening titles now, which are largely generic shots of space, accompanied by some onscreen text. This all feels very reminiscent of the opening titles to Superman: The Movie (1978), but without the grandeur.
3mins 20secs – Lois Lane makes her entrance here, where she is voiced by Anne Heche. Of all the actors to voice Lane in animation (and there have been quite a few) in my personal opinion, Heche is not one of the best. There is nothing wrong with her line delivery; I just don’t feel that her voice is a suitable match for the character. Heche is fine as an actor, but this is not a great start for her as Lois Lane.
4mins – Clark Kent appears, and he looks pretty tired. The character design has lines on his face and it sure is ageing him. I’m not sure if this is intentional, so that he looks like he’s getting older, or if this is a deliberate style choice, so that this version of Kent/Superman, looks different to the one who previously appeared on television in Superman: The Animated Series and Justice League/Justice League Unlimited. I would hazard a guess that this is exactly the reason.
4mins 30secs – Kent is voiced by Adam Baldwin. As with the Lex Luthor casting, I have no complaints here – Baldwin is good!
8mins – Superman is in the Fortress of Solitude and he is stressing. He feels upset and frustrated that he can’t cure cancer. This is an interesting scene as it humanises the character.
8mins 10secs – Oh, the stress has quickly disappeared, because Lois Lane has just appeared… in a towel. It would seem that Superman and Lois are dating.
9mins – While Superman and Lois are otherwise occupied, Lex Luthor is busy in Metropolis overseeing a project to excavate a mysterious alien craft.
10mins 10secs – The craft has been breached… freeing a creature that was housed inside. This won’t end well.
10mins 15secs – Enter: Doomsday!
11mins – The monstrous creature known as Doomsday has escaped the craft, killing Luthor’s excavation team in the process.
12mins 20secs – Back at the Fortress of Solitude, Superman and Lois are talking. Lois hints that she knows Superman’s secret identity, but she is trying to encourage him to come clean with her.
13mins – I’m going to show my hand here and say I really do like this movie. The animation is great, and (with the exception of Lois) I really like the voice cast.
15mins – It’s worth noting that when this movie was released it was accompanied by a small toy line. I’m not sure if Warner Bros./DC Entertainment had plans to release more toys based on DC Universe Animated Original Movies, but to my knowledge this is the only film with a set of action figures. (Editor’s note: Nope, toys were also released for other movies).
17mins 30secs – Doomsday is rampaging through the streets of Metropolis. The army are unable to stop him. This looks like a job for…
17mins 55secs – ..Superman!
20mins – Oh dear, Superman is getting his ass kicked.
21mins – Some nice action scenes now, as Superman and Doomsday duke it out. Would be good to see some a few more citizens in danger though, especially considering the amount of destruction across the city. Ah well, the fight scenes are top notch.
25mins – Superman is losing. He’s bleeding too.
25mins 20secs – Although the citizens have been few and far between, a little girl has just walked into the middle of the street. It doesn’t matter how tired Superman is, he is determined to protect her and everyone else. The end of the fight is nigh.
26mins 30secs – After flying Doomsday up into the air and into the atmosphere, Superman and Doomsday crash back on Earth. Doomsday is killed almost instantly. Superman is dying.
27mins 20secs – And now a moment to mourn the passing of Superman.
31mins 30secs – Another great scene here, as Lois arrives at the Kent farm in Smallville to talk to Martha Kent about the death of Superman/Clark. It is clear that Lois *did* know Superman’s secret identity, and it is interesting to hear her talk about her love for Clark/Superman. While I’m still not sold on Heche, she is doing a good job in this scene.
34mins 30secs – With Superman gone, Lex is seriously pissed off. He wanted to kill Superman, and now feels as if Doomsday has robbed him of something precious.
35mins – Lex gets over his emotional pain by shooting his assistant, Mercy. This scene always surprises me.
35mins 30secs – Another villain is now being introduced in the shape of Toyman. He’s a bit creepy to say the least.
37mins 40secs – Superman returns! Hurrah, the Man of Steel is inexplicably alive!
39mins 30secs – But wait, there’s something not quite right about this Superman.
43mins 20secs – And of course, this isn’t the real Superman. Luthor has created a clone of the Man of Steel. He also has the body of the real Superman locked up in a lab.
46mins – Well… Luthor *did* have the body of Superman locked up in a lab. Superman has disappeared.
47mins – An important point now – Superman: Doomsday has reached arguably its most shocking moment. As detailed in a television news report, after being captured by Superman, Toyman escaped from prison, took some people hostage, and killed a child. Not something you expect to see in an animated Superman movie.
It is at this moment Superman: Doomsday makes it very, very clear, that this DC animated movie, and all the films that will follow, are written with a slightly more mature audience in mind. In terms of their adult content, other movies will go far beyond this one, but this is where it begins.
47mins 30secs – Cutting into the Toyman sequence for a moment, because Superman is alive! And it is the real Superman this time. Technically Superman didn’t die during the fight with Doomsday; instead, his body went into a coma so that he could recover.
48mins – OK, back to Toyman. The police have taken him into custody, but without a moment’s hesitation the fake Superman has turned up; has taken Toyman high into the air… and has promptly dropped him so he will fall to his death. Brutal!
50mins – After witnessing Superman’s actions on television, Martha Kent has come to the only conclusion possible: “That is not the boy I raised.”
51mins – Marsters is continuing to kill it as Lex Luthor. Incidentally, around the time Marsters was voicing Luthor for this movie, he was also playing the role of Brainiac on the television series, Smallville.
56mins – Another bit of trivia for you, when it was released in 2007, Superman: Doomsday made around $10 million in video/DVD sales. The film was produced on a budget of around $3.5 million, so that’s a pretty good return on investment!
1hr – Back to the story and the Superman clone has turned on Luthor. Is this the end for Lex? It would sure seem that way, but if I remember correctly, he survives to scheme another day.
1hr 2mins – With the clone Superman now out of control, the army have been sent in to take him down! I don’t fancy their chances – especially since they were no use in the fight against Doomsday.
1hr 5mins – With the military proving useless, it is up to the real Superman to step in and save the day. He’s decked out in a swish black suit, has long hair, and more importantly, he is wielding a Kryptonite gun! This will come in use.
1hr 7mins – Another epic fight, this time it is Superman vs Superman.
1hr 9mins – Great fight, but once again, where are all the citizens? Metropolis is a major city – this place should be swarming with people, even during a huge fight scene.
1hr 11mins – Using gas from the Kryptonite gun, the real Superman has defeated the clone. The action is over. I said that gun would come in use.
1hr 13mins 30secs – And as Superman assumes his rightful place as Metropolis’ protector, all is right with the world again and Superman finally reveals his secret identity to Lois.
1hr 14mins 30secs – Oh, and Lex is alive.
As a starting point for a (then) new run of animated DC movies, as well as being a Superman movie in its own right, Superman: Doomsday is a fairly solid picture. It condenses The Death of Superman storyline down to the key points (i.e. Superman dies), then introduces a new story beat which still manages to take inspiration from the classic tale, while pushing it in a new direction.
As noted above, Adam Baldwin and James Marsters are perfectly cast as Superman and Luthor respectively, and while Heche isn’t quite the right fit for Lois, she does settle into the role as the movie progresses. The supporting cast also includes Ray Wise as Perry White and Adam Wylie as Jimmy Olsen, who I didn’t mention above, but they are good too.
From a visual standpoint, the movie looks similar in style to Superman: The Animated Series, but with enough differences to become its own thing, and this is fine with me. Superman: The Animated Series is one of my all-time takes on the Superman mythology, so anything that feels loosely connected is already onto a winner in my eyes.
I do have some criticisms, but they are largely related to what could have happened after the release of this movie – i.e., Warner Bros./DC Entertainment should have produced a sequel. I would have happily watched a follow-up, with Luthor coming up with another plot to destroy Superman.
My other criticism is with the fight sequences, which as previously mentioned featured barely any scenes of citizens in peril. With a little bit more attention to background details such as this, the fight scenes would have been even more exciting and dangerous.
But I won’t dwell on these minor critiques, as Superman: Doomsday continues to entertain me after all these years. This is a decent movie, which provides 75 minutes of action, adventure, and appealing animation, and ultimately, what more could anyone ask for?
Thank you for taking the time to stop by I’ll Get Drive-Thru to read this post about Superman: Doomsday – this was a fun re-watch. If you have watched this movie before, then let me know your thoughts on its strengths and weaknesses.
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