A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Reign of the Superman is the DC Comics/Warner Brothers full-length animated sequel to 2018's The Death of Superman. At the end of The Death of Superman, all of Metropolis, including the Justice League and Lois Lane, believed Superman was killed by the powerful Doomsday. The sequel opens six months later as a new contingent of "Supermen" attempt to follow in the footsteps of the great hero, seemingly "protecting" the citizens of the city. Despite her ongoing grief, Lois Lane decides to investigate. Who are these strangers? Cartoon violence is intense and often brutal, with heroic characters sometimes overpowered. Expect explosions, lengthy hand-to-hand combat sequences, fire, assault weapons, electrocutions, and attacks of fearsome creatures. Deaths occur. An occasional curse word is heard (i.e., "hell," "a--hole," "son of a bitch"). References to "sleeping around" and "abstaining from sexual activity." Audiences who have at least some familiarity with the DC Comics characters and stories will have an easier time staying with the complex plot with its vast cast of characters.
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What's the story?
REIGN OF THE SUPERMAN begins six months after the apparent death of Superman in 2018’s The Death of Superman. A quartet of new superheroes has appeared in Metropolis. All of them SEEM to be fighting for "truth, justice, and the American Way." The four are: a very young Superman, a "protegee" of Lex Luthor (voiced by Rainn Wilson); Steel, a man of iron with a hammer and good intentions; Cyborg Superman, who claims he's really Superman with an altered physicality); and Eradicator Superman, who or may not be a hologram. But not all is as it seems. At least some of the four Supermen are working at the behest of other villains and have dire ulterior motives. It's up to Lois Lane (Rebecca Romijn), along with the Justice League, to ferret out those who would do harm to the city. The formidable superheroes must do battle with an alien invasion, an army of innocent citizens who have been transformed into a Cyber Corps, as well as multiple villains, some unexpected, who are behind the mayhem. When all appears to be lost, it becomes clear that Superman (Jerry O'Connell) may yet be alive. Lois's mission, along with those who are left to help her, is to find him, bring him back to Metropolis, and restore his powers so that he can once again save the day.
Is it any good?
Proof that Superman can never die, and that the Justice League may be immortal as well, are highlights of this action-packed sequel with a profusion of heroes and villains to follow. Animation, performances, and production are all top-notch, in keeping with director Sam Liu's high standards. Lois Lane's prominent role in the story, including her grief at the film's opening and resurgent joy at the end, add an emotional component to the usual mayhem.
Fans of the DC Animated Universe should have no trouble keeping up with the onslaught of characters in Reign of the Supermen. Most are familiar heroes or recurring baddies, so the appearance of four new faux "supermen" will simply add to the suspense. "Newbies," however, may be lost early on.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how Lois Lane's active involvement throughout the movie is a significant change for the character. How does Lois's participation and the fact that both Wonder Woman and Captain Marvel are female superheroes in their own movies reflect the world's evolving cultural values?
Do you think that animated violence, as seen in The Reign of the Supermen, is less impactful than live-action violence? Why or why not? Was the violence in this film essential to the plot? In what way(s)? Why is it important to be aware of the impact of violence on kids?
Comic superheroes (and villains) have an amazing ability to come back to life after it appears that they have been defeated and/or killed. Does the fact that you're aware that these characters probably will return and may be immortal lessen the movies' suspense? Why or why not?
- On DVD or streaming: January 15, 2019
- Cast: Jerry O'Connell, Rebecca Romijn, Rainn Wilson
- Director: Sam Liu
- Studio: Warner Bros. Animation
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Superheroes, Adventures, Robots
- Run time: 83 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: sequences of action violence
- Last updated: June 24, 2020
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