Parents' Guide to

Superman: Red Son

By Brian Costello, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 13+

Violence, cursing, smoking in "Soviet Superman" reimagining.

Movie PG-13 2020 84 minutes
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Superman: Red Son asks the question, "What if Superman grew up in the Soviet Union instead of Smallville?" The premise, and its historically altering ramifications, is engagingly explored -- in the DC Comics world as well as in the historical events of the Cold War. The shopworn "What if JFK hadn't been assassinated?" ideas are counterbalanced with an effective melding of these two alternate realities being explored, especially with the idea of Batman as a resistance leader against Soviet tyranny driven to avenge the death of his family in the gulag. The story is a thoughtful reflection on the hazards of unchecked power, and the difference between the ideals espoused by ideologues and the drawbacks of these ideologies in the real world.

That said, the heady themes tend to get lost in the moments of cartoon violence. Too often, the violent moments are as stock as any Saturday morning cartoon from the era when the lines between "good" and "evil" weren't as blurred as they have been in contemporary takes on the superhero. For parents old enough to remember "Super Friends" from the 1970s and '80s, it's hard not to be reminded of moments from that show when, say, Superman stops a satellite from crashing into Metropolis, or Superman goes mano y mano with one "Superior Man." One almost expects to hear a narrator bellow, "Meanwhile, at the Hall of Justice..." during these moments. This inability to effectively mesh the action with the story prevents Superman: Red Son from being the great movie it could have been.

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