Superman: Doomsday

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Superman: Doomsday
Superman Doomsday logo.JPG
DVD cover art.
Directed by
Produced by Bruce Timm
Screenplay by Duane Capizzi
Story by
  • Duane Capizzi
  • Bruce Timm
Based on Characters
by Jerry Siegel
Joe Shuster
Starring
Narrated by James Marsters
Music by Robert Kral
Production
company
Distributed by Warner Home Video
Release date
  • September 18, 2007 (2007-09-18)
Running time
77 minutes
Language English

Superman: Doomsday is a 2007 American direct-to-video animated superhero film, adapted from the DC Comics storyline "The Death of Superman", focusing on the supposed death of the superhero Superman. The film is rated PG-13 by the Motion Picture Association of America for action violence and is the first in the DC Universe Animated Original Movies line released by Warner Premiere and Warner Bros. Animation. It was followed by Justice League: The New Frontier.

Plot[edit]

Superman has become an icon of virtue to the citizens of Metropolis, a notion that angers billionaire philanthropist and Superman's primary archenemy Lex Luthor, who is still plotting Superman's downfall. Meanwhile, Superman and Lois Lane have become romantically involved, and take time off together at the Fortress of Solitude. However, Lois is unsatisfied with keeping their relationship secretive and not being able to know Superman's real name. While digging for a project that Lex Luthor claims will better his chances of defeating Superman, workers from LexCorp unearth a spacecraft containing Doomsday, a genetically engineered super-soldier created by an alien race. The creature is highly hostile toward anything that moves; it kills the digging crew and begins a violent rampage towards Metropolis, killing any living creature it sees.

Doomsday reaches Metropolis and decimates the Armed Forces mobilized to defend Metropolis, when Superman arrives. The two titans engage in a heated battle, and although Superman fights valiantly, Doomsday attacks him brutally and pounds him to where the Man of Steel bleeds. But before Doomsday can land another blow, a little girl approaches them in tears. Doomsday releases Superman and prepares to kill the girl, only for Superman to grapple him from behind and fly into space with him. Superman reenters the atmosphere and upon landing, effectively breaks Doomsday and defeats the monster once and for all. Despite his victory, Superman succumbs to his wounds in Lois' arms and apparently dies.

After knowledge of LexCorp's involvement with Doomsday's rampage is eliminated, Luthor kills his personal assistant Mercy Graves to ensure no one else knows of LexCorp's involvement. Meanwhile, the world mourns the loss of Superman and Metropolis honors him with a memorial park. Superman's friends cope with his death in various ways: Jimmy Olsen takes a job at a tabloid newspaper called the National Voyeur, Perry White becomes an alcoholic, and Lois, who realizes that Clark was Superman, visits Martha Kent for counsel. In Superman's absence, Metropolis is overwhelmed by a rise of criminal activity. Toyman uses a giant mechanical spider to hold several children hostage in a school bus while robbing a federal reserve. Lois decides to save them herself, but when all but one little girl are out of the bus, Toyman tries to kill them. However, Lois and the girl are saved by none other than Superman, who then captures Toyman and receives applause. However, he doesn't seem quite the same, but Lois dismisses it as shock. She becomes suspicious, however, when Martha tells her that Clark has not called home.

The resurrected Superman is revealed to be a clone created by Luthor from a blood sample retrieved after his battle with Doomsday. Luthor is keeping the real Superman's body preserved in a tube, unaware that Superman is still barely alive. He periodically tortures the clone Superman in a special lead-lined room containing a red-sun filter with Kryptonite gauntlets. A robot from the Fortress of Solitude recovers Superman's body after detecting he was still alive and begins restoring Superman to health. Meanwhile, the clone's attitude darkens when he hears that Toyman killed a little girl after holding several children at a daycare hostage. In retaliation, the fake Superman drops him from a distance so that he falls to his death in front of the police station. The city is stunned and the clone threatens the populace into abiding by the law, convinced that the terror is preventative. This convinces Lois and Martha that this is not the real Superman.

Luthor berates the clone for his behavior, orders him to find Superman's corpse, and threatens to kill him if he misbehaves again. The clone deduces that a lead-shielded kryptonite pellet is in his brain, and removes it utilizing his heat vision and a mirror at a hair salon. Lois discovers the truth after tranquilizing Luthor and searching his files with Jimmy. They discover that Luthor is cloning an army of Supermen. Luthor awakens armed with a gun, but the original clone saves Lois and Jimmy. He also destroys the cloning facility including the yet-to-be-awakened clones. Luthor hides in the special room, hoping to kill the clone with the Kryptonite gauntlets, but the clone locks him inside and hurls the entire room into the street. This latest presumed murder triggers military action which fails.

At the Fortress of Solitude, Superman is revived and undergoes intensive rehabilitation exercises under solar energy to his powers. He resolves to confront the clone, even though his powers are not fully restored. To improve his odds, he dons a black sunlight-absorption suit and brings Luthor's original Kryptonite gun. The two engage in a heated battle, culminating at Superman's memorial. After the Kryptonite gun originally fails, Lois manages to hit the clone with a Kryptonite blast. He destroys the gun, leaving only the Kryptonite canister. The canister sticks to the clone's chest and Superman vaporizes it with heat vision. Before dying, the clone tells Superman to protect the people. Lois is sure of the real Superman once he kisses her, and the crowd is similarly happy now that they know that the real Superman is alive. At Lois' apartment, Superman reveals himself to be Clark Kent. Lois is caught off guard, but embraces Superman with elation.

At LexCorp, Lex Luthor is revealed to be critically injured and in a wheelchair, but still alive. He smiles, musing that there may still be a way for him to destroy Superman.

Voice cast[edit]

Production[edit]

Despite similar animation styles, the film used new animation models, and is only loosely based on the DC Animated Universe that lasted from 1992-2006,[1] with a few allusions to the older series, as well as the Fleischer Superman series, found in the Fortress of Solitude.

Differences with the comics[edit]

Superman's black suit, and longer hair when he came back to fight the doppelgänger Superman is one of the few things to match up with the Doomsday storyline from the comics. Most other aspects, including the origins and appearance of Doomsday, the relationship of Superman and Lois Lane, the fight itself, and the events surrounding Superman's return, were far different than their comic counterparts. In addition, all references to other characters throughout the arc, including the Justice League (who battled Doomsday in an attempt to stop him from reaching Metropolis) many supporting characters, and the four false Supermen (Superboy, the Eradicator, Cyborg Superman, and Steel, though unlike like the previous three Steel was inspired by him and never claimed to be Superman) were left out entirely. Aspects of these characters were combined to form the clone Superman (Superboy was a clone, the Eradicator killed criminals, and Cyborg Superman was a villain who pretended to be the real Superman). Also, while starting up the helicopter on the Daily Planet roof, Lois tells Jimmy that she was an "air force brat" (while in the comics her father, General Sam Lane, was in the army). Martha Kent is depicted as a widow in the film, whereas in the comics, Jonathan Kent is alive and would possibly play a key part in bringing Superman back from the afterlife.

Elements from other Superman media[edit]

In the Fortress of Solitude various items can be seen from past Superman cartoons. Some of these include Superman's anti-Kryptonite suit, as well as his space suit and rocket from Superman: The Animated Series. Others are from the Fleischer Superman cartoons of the 40's including the Bullet Car from The Bulleteers and one of the robots from The Mechanical Monsters. The Bottle City of Kandor can be seen as well.

The character Mercy Graves originally appeared in Superman: The Animated Series as Luthor's chauffeur and bodyguard. In this film, she is his corporate assistant. James Marsters, who voiced Lex Luthor in the movie, played the character of Brainiac/Milton Fine in the TV show Smallville (Season 5 Episodes: "Arrival", "Aqua", "Thirst", "Splinter", "Solitude", "Hypnotic", "Oracle", "Vessel").

Kevin Smith cameo[edit]

Writer/director Kevin Smith made a brief cameo in the film, during the scene in which Superman apprehends Toyman. As Superman carries Toyman off, a man (modeled after and voiced by Smith) remarks, "Like we really needed him to bust up a mechanical spider, right? Lame!"[2] This is a reference to the Warner Bros. Superman project that he and director-producer Jon Peters collaborated on, which never came to fruition. According to Smith, Peters wanted Superman to fight a giant spider in the film's third act.[2][3][4][5] Smith revealed in his interview film An Evening with Kevin Smith that he incorporated this and Peters' other ideas into his script,[2][6] but that script was never used, as director Tim Burton was eventually brought onto the project, and wished to employ a screenwriter of his own preference.[5] A giant spider eventually was used in the climax of the 1999 film Wild, Wild West, which Peters produced.[2][5]

Release[edit]

The film was released on September 18, 2007. Before the DVD release, the movie was first screened at the San Diego Comic-Con on July 26, 2007. It made its U.S. broadcast premier on the Cartoon Network on Saturday July 12, 2008.

Superman: Doomsday was exclusively available on DVD with a collectible packaging depicting Superman bursting through the movie's logo. It was the only film in the series originally released without a special edition.

Following a year later was a two-disc special edition DVD release. The special features included a retrospective look at how the Death of Superman comic came to be, a look at voice actors, as well as a Defeat Doomsday game with a 10-minute preview to the next animated film; Justice League: The New Frontier.

Release of a Blu-ray version was announced with a release date of February 26, 2008, but was delayed.[7]

Warner Home Video released a new "Special Edition" Blu-ray and DVD, featuring new bonus materials on November 25, 2008.[8]

Rating[edit]

The film's generous amount of violence and adult language garnered a PG-13 rating from the MPAA. This is the first time an animated Superman project has ever received such a strong rating. Most of the more visceral deaths take place off-camera, however the fight sequences are very intense. During the Doomsday/Superman fight, Superman coughs a puddle of blood onto the ground, perhaps the most visual use of blood in the entire film.[9]

Soundtrack[edit]

Superman: Doomsday (Soundtrack from the DC Universe Animated Original Movie)
Superman-Doomsday (soundtrack).jpg
Film score by Robert J. Kral
Released October 26, 2007
Length 57:34
Label La-La Land Records

The soundtrack to Superman: Doomsday was released on October 26, 2007. The music was composed by Robert J. Kral.[10] The soundtrack listing:

'Superman: Doomsday (Soundtrack from the DC Universe Animated Original Movie)
No. Title Length
1. "Superman Doomsday Main Title" 2:05
2. "Fortress of Solitude" 1:33
3. "Alien" (') 2;25
4. "Killing the Hick" 0:52
5. "Doomsday Rising" 2:11
6. "Superman vs Doomsday" 1:49
7. "Doomsday Battle" 2:11
8. "Superman's Sacrifice" 2:38
9. "The Death of Superman" 2:07
10. "Lois & Martha" 0:48
11. "Toy Man Attacks" 2:28
12. "Return of the Hero" 2:22
13. "Superman Clone" 3:16
14. "Heartbeat" 0:43
15. "Relocated" 1:13
16. "Lois Was Right" 0:37
17. "Cat Rescue" 1:42
18. "A Safe Superman" 1:47
19. "Lois' Plan" 2:21
20. "Clone Discovery" 1:30
21. "Luthor's Fate" 0:32
22. "Superman's Return" 2:27
23. "Superman vs. Superclone" 4:56
24. "Superman's Victory" 4:23
25. "Smallville Elementary" 1:03
26. "Superman: Doomsday End Titles" 2:58
Total length: 57:34

Reception[edit]

Critical reaction[edit]

The film received favorable reviews from critics.[11] Following the screening at Comic-Con, and its release on DVD, the movie garnered mostly positive reviews, with some reviewers commenting it was a marked improvement compared to other recent DC animated adaptations; some commented it raised the bar for the follow-up to the live-action Superman Returns which had been released the previous summer.[12] Many also agreed it was also better in comparison to the recent animated films Marvel Studios had released based on their characters (such as Ultimate Avengers), in part due to the more adult and action-packed story in keeping with its PG-13 rating.[13] Many reviews spoke highly of James Marsters' and Adam Baldwin's voice acting as Lex Luthor and Superman, while reviews of Anne Heche's portrayal of Lois Lane were mixed.[14]

Not all reviews of the film were positive. DVDTalk.com, while praising the film's look and its technical presentation, called the film "a massive disappointment" and also negatively commented on the film's short running time and its lack of adherence to the storyline of The Death of Superman comics.[15] James Deaux of Earth-2.net gave the movie a score of 5.5 out of 10, claiming the movie was far too overhyped and the result was not a bad, but a mediocre product with "many instances of...lazy writing, confusing animation, a couple of glaring plot holes and some mediocre voice acting." He also criticized the title of the movie given that Doomsday has such a minimal role in the film.[16]

Sales[edit]

The Top 100 DVD sales chart for September 18 - 23, 2017 revealed that the film was placed at #4, and was two spots ahead of the season six release of Smallville, a Superman related television show.[17] Variety made a report three months after the DVD's release, on DTV movies becoming very popular, and revealed that the DVD sold 600,000 copies, 30% more than what the studio predicted.[18] At the present time, Superman Doomsday is the highest selling film from the DC direct-to-video series selling more than 680,000 units.[19]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "WONDERCON '07: DC UNIVERSE: SUPERHEROES GO DVD PANEL". Newsarama. 2007-03-04. Archived from the original on 2007-03-06. Retrieved 2007-03-10. 
  2. ^ a b c d McLaughlin, Robert (July 17, 2009). "How Superman became Will Smith’s adversary". Den of Geek!
  3. ^ Cecchini, Mike (August 2, 2017). "Was Ahead of Its Time: Kevin Smith's Superman Lives script would feel right at home with modern superhero blockbusters and TV shows." Den of Geek!
  4. ^ Collis, Clark (July 1, 2015). "The Death of Superman Lives: What Happened? -- exclusive clip". Entertainment Weekly.
  5. ^ a b c Elliott, Josh (June 12, 2013). "How producer Jon Peters and a giant spider nearly ruined Superman". The Pop Cultist.
  6. ^ Conrad, Jeremy (January 9, 2003). "An Evening with Kevin Smith: Nearly four hours of stories from The Man. Our full review. ". IGN.
  7. ^ "Justice League DVD news: Release Date for Justice League: The New Frontier". TVShowsOnDVD.com. Archived from the original on 2011-05-25. Retrieved 2011-01-30. 
  8. ^ "Official Artwork And Details For New "Superman Doomsday" DVD And Blu-Ray". Worldsfinestonline.com. Retrieved 2011-01-30. 
  9. ^ Cassady Jr., Charles (February 13, 2008). "Superman Doomsday Movie Review". Common Sense Media. Retrieved September 11, 2016. 
  10. ^ "''Superman: Doomsday Soundtrack''". Worldsfinestonline.com. Retrieved 2011-01-30. 
  11. ^ "Superman: Doomsday (2007)". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved 2011-01-05. 
  12. ^ "Superman Doomsday Review". Ugo.com. 2007-09-18. Archived from the original on 2011-05-17. Retrieved 2011-01-30. 
  13. ^ "SDCC '07: SUPERMAN DOOMSDAY REVIEW - NEWSARAMA". Forum.newsarama.com. 2007-07-27. Archived from the original on 2010-01-07. Retrieved 2011-01-30. 
  14. ^ Christopher Monfette (2007-09-18). "IGN: Superman Doomsday Review". Dvd.ign.com. Retrieved 2011-01-30. 
  15. ^ "DVD Talk Review: Superman - Doomsday". Dvdtalk.com. Retrieved 2011-01-30. 
  16. ^ "Superman: Doomsday review". Earth-2.net. Retrieved 2007-12-06. 
  17. ^ "Touchdown for "Marshall" on DVD charts". Reuters. September 27, 2007. 
  18. ^ Thielman, Sam (December 21, 2007). "Direct-to-DVD movies growing in popularity". Variety. 
  19. ^ "Superman - Doomsday - DVD Sales". The Numbers. Nash Information Service. Retrieved 2011-03-31. 

External links[edit]