Blu-ray Review: Superman: Man of Tomorrow
Directed by: Chris Palmer
Written by: Tim Sheridan
Starring: Darren Criss, Zachary Quinto, Ryan Hurst, Alexandra Daddario, Ika Amandi, Brett Dalton, Eugene Byrd
Reviewed by: Eric Joseph
Our first DC Universe animated movie post-Justice League Dark: Apokolips War is that of Superman: Man of Tomorrow, a coming of age story chronicling the adventures of an emerging Big Blue. Whether this is a standalone tale, the start of a series of Superman flicks, or the beginning of a new shared universe after what we’ll call “Flashpoint II” remains to be seen, but we’ll just enjoy it for what it is: a good superhero movie.
Make no mistake, there have been no shortage of Superman origin stories since the turn of the millennium. In comics alone, we’ve had Birthright, Secret Origin, Grant Morrison’s Action Comics run, Earth One, American Alien and Year One. On the live action side of things there have been Smallville and Man of Steel, but the animation realm has been left untouched since Superman: The Animated Series brought us “The Last Son of Krypton,” so this bad boy gets a pass in that regard.
For the most part, Man of Tomorrow is an original story. Though it takes some inspiration from American Alien and the Earth One books, it’s not a retread by any stretch. Really, any longtime fan of the timeless icon will be surprised by what goes down. Plus, Lobo and Martian Manhunter are thrown in for good measure, so we can’t complain about that.
The immediate thing to gush over here is that of the visual aspect. I love the art style presented. Truth be told, I’m going to check out any Superman film regardless, but the look of this picture is what immediately had me sold. The colors are vibrant, and I guess I just dig seeing those bold lines around the characters, a la Batman: The Brave and the Bold and Archer. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want every DC animated movie going forward to look the same way, but I definitely want more of it.
Fortunately, the narrative is engaging as well. Like I said before, we’re following Kal-El as he begins his journey in Metropolis. In fact, he’s ignorant of his Kryptonian heritage at first; he knows he’s an alien but that’s the extent of his knowledge. Fortunately for him, he soon befriends Martian Manhunter, who fills out the mentor role.
The leading man, Darren Criss, does quite well filling the shoes of his predecessors. He brings a certain presence to a Clark Kent whom I’d assume is in his early twenties. Therefore, don’t condemn him for not sounding like Tim Daly, George Newbern or Jerry O’Connell. His Superman is just as believable and valid, not to mention optimistic.
If anything, it’s the twists and turns that’ll keep you on your toes. Yes, that sort of hyperbole is often spewed, although it really applies in this case. There are certain events that transpire involving the likes of Lex Luthor, Lobo, Martian Manhunter and even the chief antagonist of the piece, Parasite, that are sure to make you cock an eyebrow. I won’t spoil anything specifically, but you should brace yourself for some strange alliances when desperate times call for desperate measures.
To my delight, there are also some satisfying bonus features for consumption. “Lobo – Natural Force of Chaos” and “Martian Manhunter – Lost and Found” profile two of the supporting players, while two episodes of Superman: The Animated Series – “The Main Man – Parts I & II” – spotlight the former. And let me tell you, I wasn’t too keen on the idea of Batman: Soul of the Dragon before I watched the first look featurette included, but now it most definitely has my attention and I’m looking forward to it.
Despite this not being a perfect film, I don’t have too many gripes. I guess if I had to single out something specifically, I’d have to say I wanted more of Zachary Quinto’s Lex Luthor. In my opinion, his voice and cadence have been the most perfect vocal fit for the character since Clancy Brown lent his pipes. There have been various fine voice actors in between for sure, but Quinto just has that “certain something” when it comes time to slip into the role. Hopefully he comes back one day.
And although this isn’t necessarily a grievance of my own, I can picture some fans complaining about “yet another Superman origin story.” But like I said earlier, animation gets a free pass in that respect, so let’s hope they move on to other stages in Clark’s life for a while. However, if I see yet another comic book going this route…
While Superman: Man of Tomorrow hasn’t dethroned either Superman: Doomsday or Superman Unbound for the title of being my favorite animated film headlined by the Boy Scout, it’s still an achievement nonetheless. Should it prove successful enough, I imagine WB will order a sequel. Money talks, so pick up a copy if you agree with what’s been said in my review.