With part one of Death of Superman being a relatively straightforward adaptation, I was really curious how Warner Bros. Animation would handle the second part of this saga. They attempted this story before with a very mixed result in Superman: Doomsday (2007). Here with two movies, how would the second more key part hold up in Reign of the Supermen?
The answer is 50/50. The spirit of the story of a world without Superman is there with the four heirs (Superboy, Steel, Eradicator, and Cyborg Superman) trying to fill this massive void and life without Clark Kent with Lois Lane (Rebecca Romijn) trying to figure out if any of the heirs are actually Clark, or what happened to the body?
In that regard, Lois being the anchor balances the previous entry of her growing closer to Superman/Clark Kent (Jerry O'Connell) and while learning said secret identity. The movie works really well in this regard as it explores the origins of all four and gives all four equal screen time.
Well, save for two: Cyborg Superman (Patrick Fabian) and Superboy (Cameron Monaghan). Both characters get fuller arcs in the film with shades of their modern characterizations leaking thru here (Superboy's parentage and Cyborg Superman's death wish). Regardless, there are homages all over the place with the actual comic. So it was neat seeing stuff actually adapted over, and even if glossed over homaged nicely.
It's only here were I can nitpick the only flaw of the film. In the comics, the Cyborg Superman commits some horrific acts. That's not to say he doesn't in the film mind you either. Just that the act he performs in the comics was far more heinous and had lasting repercussions in the comics.
Here, it feels like his actions won't have any truly lasting ramifications. Plus it kind of denies any possibilities of an Emerald Twilight adaptation, Green Lantern Rebirth, and Sinestro Corps War. Because dammit that would have been an amazing ride. Still, the core of the character is intact and the little-added touch of modern Cyborg Superman does make the story still very compelling, and why I enjoy the character so much.
Not only that, but the convoluted origins of Cyborg Superman being molded to fit the story were done quite well since the overall character arc is still there. Likewise, the reasoning for all the happenings of why things happened in these last two movies is actually satisfying for longtime viewers of this "DCAU".
As for the other two Supermen in Eradicator (Charles Halford) and Steel (Cress Williams), they both get their moments to shine. Really, of the four Steel's had the overarching story that's run over three DC animated movies, not just these two films (what you think I forget his cameo in Justice League: Throne of Atlantis?). But-- I kind wanted more payoff from him at the end.
The Eradicator, on the other hand, had the least amount of screen time, but still, his character was nicely adapted from the comics. Plus they didn't use his "burnt out" form in the comics and kept straight with his awesome Reign look for the entire movie. Also eradication puns! Cheesy, yet effective.
That said the only other nitpick I have is Lex Luthor's (Rainn Wilson) role in this film. I just don't feel his arc in this is earned. It just feels a huge gap is missing with his arc because one moment he's the Lex we know, and the next minute he's Rebirth Lex. It just feels like a scene or two could have been added to give Lex a better motivation than what we barely get. I digress though since the latter half of the movie takes a "Rebirth" tone and I loved that particular era, I'll overlook it.
The other flaw is the sequel baiting. Yes, I know at this point it's a hallmark of the DCAU. BUT-- this plot line is so not going to be followed up in the next actual entry, Batman: Hush. I highly doubt it'll be followed up in the final entry of DCAU fare either in the untitled Wonder Woman movie. So we gotta wait another year? Eh...
Reign of the Supermen is a better-made attempt this go around, and the changes help better the story. Oh sure I have my nitpicks, but I can overlook because I can see the choices on why they were made. Though two of the Supermen get the spotlight shined on them, that's not to say the other two don't get some really nice moments. Really, the only true flaw of the movie is Lex Luthor. If they gave him an entry point at the beginning of this film to bridge the end. Still, this is a damn good Superman movie.
4 out of 5