Gripes with Timm’s version of Superman notwithstanding “Superman: Doomsday” is a worthy revisit into the universe that was humbly approached in the animated series and then just completely botched in “Superman: Brainiac Attacks.”
“Superman: Doomsday” is one of the very few and possibly last forays into the Superman universe that may actually get the character right. Here, Superman is almost close to human, with a life involving Lois that may end in bloodshed, while his views on righting wrongs and helping humanity are questioned once he meets his double.
Could Superman have been a different person if raised by Lex Luthor? Do values change depending on the person, or are they so easily distorted based on perspective. How does Superman’s clone’s values differ from Superman drastically when you come down to it? Are they really too different?
“Superman: Doomsday” uses the story of Superman’s meeting with the vicious monster Doomsday as a spring board for a much larger story like the original novel. Still one of the most powerful graphic novels I’ve ever read, the entrance of Doomsday is still chaotic, and still sets the stage for Earth to realize how much they need the Man of Steel.
Timm and co. manage to create one of the better Superman films to date with animation that takes an edgier angle on the past Timm style. Superman looks more mature, less wholesome and he’s constantly draped in shade, while Doomsday gives him a better outlook on his importance that he questioned in “Superman Returns.”
The appearance of Doomsday is still a horrific, from his crashing through an alien pod, to wreaking bloody havoc on everything in his path of death. He kills innocent workers, mauls a deer, and even breaks an innocent bystander’s neck with ease. In one of the most powerful moments, Doomsday even attempts to murder a child, with Superman extinguishing the last of his powers and strength to come to her rescue.
How does the Man of Steel destroy something just as powerful as him? Is Doomsday much more powerful because of his lack of conscience or remorse toward his victims? When Superman and Doomsday first join fists in locked combat, suddenly all feelings of “It’s okay, it’s Superman, he’ll make it out” washed away yet again. Watching his blood smear Lois’ face, while he’s viciously thrown into walls and battered brought me back to that time where I watched Superman pass on the pages, and knew Superman would die whether I liked it or not. And the response was the same. I sighed, grumbled, and watched like yet another bystander in the film.
“Superman: Doomsday” isn’t so much a direct adaptation of “The Death of Superman” as it is a story based on the concept, with Lex acting as a much stronger force of evil. He’s the catalyst and once again the bystander, and soon finds that without Superman, he’s nothing but a man in a tower without a purpose.
As Capizzi explores, Lex and Superman seem to be the man and superman, the yin and yang, the good and evil, black and white, and without one, the other simply can’t find a balance in their own world. Lex needs Superman not only to have a purpose but to prove that he can battle a god and still live to tell about it. His creation of Superman as a clone and his subsequent reaction provide a definite insight into the mind of Luthor, which was merely hinted in past Superman fare.
Here, Lex is vicious, he’s murderous, he’s cold blooded, and James Marsters is a perfect substitute to Clancy Brown, while Adam Baldwin is an adjustment, but definitely takes to the Superman character once he does away with past aggressive roles he once tackled. As Clark he’s humble and meek, but as Superman he’s bold, and stoic. Anne Heche is a great replacement for Dana Delaney adding a richer context to the character, while also pulling in some excellent moments of grief and sadness matched with Timm’s wonderful animation.
The scene of Lois’s face being smeared with Superman’s blood is possibly one of the most disturbing instances of the film. “Superman: Doomsday” just should be taken on its own form much like the bastardized version of the mythos: “Smallville.” It’s too good to be dismissed as a faulty interpretation.