It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s…the best movie with Superman in it since Man of Steel? Yes, Reign of the Superman is the first movie to feature Clark Kent in some capacity that is worth any of a damn since Zack Snyder’s reset and harbinger of doom. This film finds it’s footing right away and delivers a wonderful slice of the Superman canon.
In the wake of Superman’s death, the entire world is trying to piece itself back together. They can’t take too long as there is always crime and monsters to fight. Luckily for them, several heroes step up to the plate, each of them aiming to be given the mantle of Superman: Steel, Superboy, the Eradicator, and Cyborg Superman. Though the men all want the title, they find themselves battling each other more than villains, to the ire of everyone but especially Lois Lane and Lex Luthor, the latter of whom has a vested interest. Their squabbling leads to the rumor that the original Man of Steel might not be as dead as everyone thinks. Lois and Lex reluctantly team up to try and solve the mystery.
Reign of the Superman is a movie that makes you wonder about the possibilities of what the live action Superman films could do. It’s got a darker, gritty tone, some in world consequences, and yet finds moments of extreme silliness and humor. But most importantly it’s got a wonderful understanding about the legend of Superman and what an icon like him can mean, even after death. It is very much a story about “what if you found out God was real, saw him live a good life and die, what would happen next?” The writers make the world uneasy but not grim, a delicate balance that makes the stakes extremely high, even with beings who theoretically can’t die.
What also stood out in this film was how having human supporting characters be integral to the plot can make a Superman tale soar. Lex Luthor and Lois Lane are both active in the story and the movie is all the better for it. Whether it’s chatting with other Justice Leaguers or fulfilling their parts in the daring third act plan, these two characters are given as much story weight as those vying for the mantle of Man of Steel.
Reign of the Superman is a fitting movie for the hero that has long had this reviewer’s heart and a movie that is sure to be among the good animated films this year.