If you read my The Death of Superman review, then you know what comes next, and why these reviews are so closely published together. If you haven’t then I suggest you go back and read that one first as this next review follows the sequel to that film, and I will add to more of the points I made previously in the first review.
The sequel to 2018’s The Death of Superman, sees us continue the story that now follows the aftermath of the previous films events. Superman is dead after a power battle with Doomsday that saw the demise of both characters, but the finale of the film baited us into this second film, as we see that Supermans body has been removed from it’s resting place in the park and it would seem that Superman is alive…or so we thought. Six months have passed since the events of the first film and the world still isn’t the same without Superman. The Justice League is still around but without Superman, the world just doesn’t feel right, especially since no one can discover where his body disappeared to. So how does a world without Superman react? It creates it’s own heroes.
Lex Luthor (voiced by the brilliant Rainn Wilson a.k.a Dwight from The Office US series) has created a clone of the fallen hero, using Superman’s DNA mixed with his own DNA for intellect, he creates what he calls ‘Superman’ but the world, especially Lois Lane, calls Superboy. He’s not the only new hero in town though. The Man of Steel inspires a new hero dressed in steel (or at least some form of metallic technological armour) who wields a large and powerful hammer to aid him in his quest to fight for justice the way Superman did. Thirdly we have someone who looks like Superman in every way, except for a yellow visor, a new power to shoot electric yellow beams from his hands, and the idea that criminals should be ‘eradicated’. Finally we have one of the coolest looking characters I have seen, who looks like half of Superman, whilst the other half is a cyborg.
If you haven’t guessed the names of the other three characters by now, they are Steel, Eradicator and Cyborg Superman, two of which I was previously aware of (Steel and Cyborg Superman) but Eradicator was someone I had never even heard of before. Once again, this is due to my own lack of knowledge on the wider world of Superman outside of the movies and TV shows I have seen. This film, like its predecessor, opened up my eyes to a larger understanding of the world of Superman. Similar to the first film, Reign of the Supermen continues the fantastic art of containing all the same elements as before, from action and suspense to comedy and although lessened by a somewhat wide margin, there is still some horror and tragedy in this film which gives it that true emotion, as Supermans past haunts not only him, but the rest of the world. We are at first uneased by the appearance of the new Supermen because unlike the real Superman we do not know who we can trust. Superboy could easily become angered by the discovery that he is a clone, Cyborg Superman could be (and actually is) controlled by a higher power, Eradicator is too violent and Steel’s identity is hidden behind his armour. So who can the world trust to save them?
This sequel added more intensity to the overall story that the two films tell together, with this film playing less upon the horror aspect of a monstrous creature, instead moving more towards adding action as well as an insight into the minds of the people who were effected by the death of the world’s greatest hero. Some people rejoiced because they believed there was no one to stop them now, while the majority of the world mourned in their own ways, but together, they mourned. The soundtrack to this second film proved as impressive as the first if not more so, and the scenes that play out in front of us keep us in true awe, as we watch Supermen fight one another to prove who is the real Superman, all whilst Lex Luthor seeks to gain the spotlight for his clone, Superboy.
Lois on the other hand is in a desperate attempt to find closure as she questions the Supermen to see if any of them are truly the real Kal-El, but in doing so she uncovers some strange and somewhat dark secrets, that proves she is indeed the best investigative reporter the world has ever seen, and thats her super power. She quickly pieces together the puzzle and discovers that Steel is simply one of the scientists from the first film, who claims that Superman had onced saved him and in doing so, he felt he was indebted to Superman and felt the need to do something about it now that he was gone. She also figures out that Cyborg Superman is in fact Hank Henshaw, who felt betrayed by Superman due to events seen in the first film. Finally she is able to work out that Eradicator is a holographic projection, of Kryptonian origin, and so we finally have all we need to know about our Supermen. That is until we discover how Cyborg Superman came to be.
One villain who we all know and love for his tyrannical, overbearing presence, is behind both events of these two films. We just didn’t know it (or at least anyone who’s not read the comics etc. didn’t like myself). The story comes together in this film as we uncover more and more secrets that some may have worked out previously, whilst others like myself who are unaware of the story behind the adaptation, are left to the surprise appearance of Darkseid who was the mastermind behind the Doomsday creature as well as the demise of the only hero who was truly strong enough to beat him. However, stopping Superman was only the first step, because the Justice League was still a threat, so they must also be removed and with the help of Cyborg Superman this was possible. So now we are left in a world without Superman, and without the Justice League. What could be worse? Reign of the Supermen showed me a world that was divided in it’s ways of dealing with loss. Some people were easily manipulated into becoming tools for Darkseid and Cyborg Superman whilst other people remained strong and faced danger head on, but this resulted in casualties that made the world seem somehow darker. Just when you think this film is as dark as it can be, it opens up a new wounds. Even without Doomsday destorying the city, innocent civilians are being beaten and broken either by their own masters or by those they loved who were manipulated. There’s only one thing left to do in this situation…bring back the real Superman!
During the end credits of The Death of Superman, we get a quick glimpse of the rise of the Fortress of Solitude, which we all know is where Superman is being kept in order to be revived by kryptonian technology. Steel visits the fortress and this is where we discover that Eradicator is a hologram, though a very powerful one. While we await the rise of the real Superman we are given knowledge of what has been happening while he has been resting, and the consequences of bringing him out of this healing process so early. After a world without Superman, we are now given a world with Superman, but without his powers. A mortal Superman, who is as close to be human now as he will ever be, but that doesn’t stop him from protecting those he loves, the people of earth, and of course Miss Lois Lane, who constantly throws herself into danger because like Kal-El she is strong minded and unafraid.
Cyborg Superman fights to gain control of his own mind again, and in doing so becomes the real villain of the story. He is devastatingly angry at Superman for not saving Hank Henshaw, or his wife from the Doomsday meteor from the first film. Despite how much Hank once loved Superman, there is now only resentment for the man who failed him.
The script and voice cast for this movie truly portray the emotion of each scene, which gives us a greater insight into the minds of these characters, who I did not know much about before, but now I feel like I understand them more. Each scene educates people like myself on the world of Superman, and for those of you who already know the stories and characters, I’m sure this was just as thrilling for you to see the pages and characters of the comics come to life on screen.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Sam Liu and the entire team that worked on these two films are to be commended for bringing us two of the most brilliant DC Animated movies that I have ever had the pleasure to see. I am so glad that my first viewing for both of these films was on the big screen because I don’t think that the scale of this film can truly be enjoyed fully without the cinematic experience. That being said I cannot wait to get my hands on the Blu Ray releases for both of these films, as well as the soundtracks on my iPod to enjoy whilst I wite reviews such as this and indulge in reading more Superman stories in 2019.
This film gets a 5/5 from me as I think it is a superb film for both veteran Superman fans and newbie fans such as myself, and together the two films get a 10/10 for the Cast and Crew who worked on them both, to bring them to our screens. Thank you to all of those hardworking people for making me a wannabe Superman fan now. I personally think The Death of Superman was my favourite simply because of the horror elements which made me feel uneasy at times (which is what horror elements are meant to do) with Doomsday feeling like a truly unstoppable force to be reckoned with, giving Supermans sacrifice to defeat his foe, that much more impact. However that is not to say that Reign of the Supermen is a lesser film in any way. I would highly recommend these films to anyone who wanted to get into DC or to anyone who simply hasn’t watched them but enjoy animated movies.