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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that DC Comics' The Death of Superman is a full-length animated feature based on a multi-part DC comic book series, The Death of Superman, which appeared in the early 1990s. This movie is the first part of a multi-movie event, the second part of which is Reign of the Supermen. The villain of the piece (called "Doomsday") may be the most deadly and powerful of Justice League opponents. Superman, his team, and even Lex Luthor are no match for Doomsday's strength, cunning, and aggression. This film is violent from beginning to end, with only some unexpected personal moments between Lois Lane and Clark Kent there to diffuse the mayhem. Audiences can expect explosions, massive infrastructure failure (buildings, bridges collapse), gunfire, multiple injuries and deaths. Leading characters are brutally attacked by Doomsday, bloodied, and left for dead. Ordinary citizens are killed; bodies multiply. A few swear words are sprinkled in the movie: "hell," "dammit," "son of a bitch." Over the years, Superman's apparent "death" has become a mainstay of exciting adventures. Spoiler alert: As in the earlier tales, he's ultimately restored to life by the time the final credits appear. With its violence and brutality, this movie isn't for younger kids.
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What's the story?
After a brief opening battle during which Superman (voiced by Jerry O'Connell) saves Metropolis' mayor from kidnappers, an asteroid lands underwater near Atlantis and sets the stage for the action in THE DEATH OF SUPERMAN. The asteroid breaks down to reveal a gigantic robotic creature who dispatches the Atlantians he encounters with ease. The all-powerful villain, who will be known as "Doomsday," then emerges from the ocean and heads for Metropolis, wreaking destruction along the way. Meanwhile, Clark Kent, unaware of the impending disaster, has finally agreed to introduce Lois Lane (Rebecca Romijn) to his parents. Their meeting results in significant changes to the couple's relationship. As Lois and Clark tread lightly upon a new path, Doomsday explodes into the city. The other members of the Justice League are immediately on the scene to save the day. But they are no match for Doomsday, falling one by one, temporary casualties of his might. Lex Luthor (Rainn Wilson) then takes on the creature and he, too, is subdued. Superman is now Metropolis' only hope. His arrival ignites a savage battle. Superman and Doomsday fight to the death for supremacy. Doomsday is unstoppable. The indomitable superhero falls.
Is it any good?
Intense action, heightened suspense, and dynamic animation blend with a satisfying emotional shift for Clark and Lois to make this a solid addition to the Superman franchise for mature fans. The Death of Superman tells a great story -- clear, concise, and surprising, too. The participation of many members of the Justice League and the encounters with Lex Luthor while he's under electronic surveillance add to the fun. The film moves like lightning, only to find some lulls in the storm to allow for a little humor and a lot of romance. Superman's death here is dealt with at length, but even novice fans will guess that for the uber superhero, death isn't really an option.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the violence in The Death of Superman. Do you think that animated violence 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?
Find out the meaning of the film term "cliffhanger." In what way(s) is this movie a cliffhanger? Does the last scene motivate you to look forward to part two?
This movie marks a significant change in the relationship between Clark Kent and Lois Lane. Were you surprised by that event? How do you think it will affect further Superman adventures?
- On DVD or streaming: August 7, 2018
- Cast: Jerry O'Connell, Rebecca Romijn, Rainn Wilson
- Directors: Sam Liu, Jake Castorena
- Studio: Warner Bros. Animation
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Superheroes, Adventures, Friendship
- Character Strengths: Courage, Teamwork
- Run time: 80 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: sequences of violence including some bloody images
- Last updated: September 26, 2019
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