A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Superman: Man of Tomorrow is a 2020 animated movie in which Clark Kent is just starting out as an intern at the Daily Planet while learning how to be the Man of Steel in Metropolis. Expect cartoon violence throughout -- including lengthy fights with firearms, flame, chains, punches, kicks -- that leave characters bloody and beaten, if not killed or presumed dead. Before receiving the hero costume created by his adopted mother, Superman fights in his street clothes, resulting in brief nudity (rear end). There's occasional profanity, including "s--t," "a--holes," and the middle-finger gesture. The character Lobo keeps a cigar in his mouth pretty much all the time, and is shown binge-drinking from a bottle of booze in another scene. Lois Lane's ambition at first helps her attain an early triumph in her career, but she's later portrayed as a cynical opportunist willing to resort to manipulation to be a part of the story. There's some diversity. Some of the alien and monster imagery could be too much for younger viewers, and the graphic content throughout makes this best for teens and older.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
In SUPERMAN: MAN OF TOMORROW, Clark Kent (Darren Criss) is working as an intern/coffee boy for the Daily Planet. As Lex Luthor (Zachary Quinto) is publicly busted by the ambitious young reporter Lois Lane (Alexandra Daddario) for blatant corruption, the rocket Luthor had heralded in the press conference veers out of control before Kent uses his Krypton powers to reroute the missile, but he loses his clothes in the process. As Mrs. Kent, back in Smallville, gives Clark what will soon be his iconic superhero costume, Mr. Kent warns Clark of the evil lurking in humankind. Meanwhile, after the missile incident, the bounty hunter Lobo has been alerted to the presence of Superman and begins pursuing him, as Kryptonites fetch a high price on the black market of outer space. In a pitched battle, Superman is rescued by J'Onn (the Martian Manhunter), but unwittingly creates a supervillain known as Parasite in the process. As Parasite gains more power, and Superman continues to develop his, Superman must work with J'Onn and those who are typically his rivals to stop Parasite from reaching the power plant.
Is it any good?
This movie is probably best for DC fans who can overlook the low-budget animation and some of the underwhelming fight scenes. On the whole, Superman: Man of Tomorrow and its exploration of the early days of Clark Kent's arrival in Metropolis from Smallville is a worthy addition to the Superman canon. That said, it mostly adheres to familiar superhero themes of the blurred lines between good and evil and how good can create evil, etc., and the cynicism of characters like Lois Lane and Lobo gets tiresome, even if this cynicism doesn't rub off on Superman like it does on other superheroes in this universe.
The animation is more reminiscent of the Saturday morning cartoons of the 1970s and '80s than anything else. It's not a deal-breaker, but it can be distracting. Still, there are some enjoyable modern takes on the Clark Kent/Superman story. Making Clark an unpaid intern who fetches coffee rather than a cub reporter is as good a comment on where we are with 21st century late-stage capitalism as any. The reason for and creation of the Superman costume is funny and adds a bit of poignancy. These touches help make the movie enjoyable.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about cartoon violence. Was the violence in Superman: Man of Tomorrow necessary, or did it seem gratuitous? Why?
Does the movie promote diversity, and if so, how?
Why do you think "origin stories" are a recurring theme in superhero stories? How are these versions of Superman/Clark Kent, Lois Lane, and other familiar characters similar to and different from other depictions?
- On DVD or streaming: August 23, 2020
- Cast: Darren Criss, Alexandra Daddario, Zachary Quinto
- Director: Chris Palmer
- Studio: DC Entertainment
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Superheroes, Misfits and Underdogs
- Run time: 86 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: Violence, some bloody images, suggestive material, language, smoking and brief partial nudity.
- Last updated: December 8, 2020
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