One of the pluses to the DC Universe streaming service is new animated movies drop onto the service the same day they hit digital. That meant I got to see the new Reign of the Supermen last week when it hit the service.
Truth be told, I made a double-feature out of it and also watched The Death of Superman before getting to Reign, and it made for a good time overall. Reign was a better movie than Death since Death, like the story it’s based on, is just Superman and Doomsday getting into an extended fight and ending with the death of both participants. True, the animated version did have more classic DC heroes trying and failing to stop Doomsday first, but there is a reason for that. These movies are part of an ongoing direct-to-DVD series set in something like the New 52 continuity that began with Justice League: War or Flashpoint. That means a lot of cast members are reprising previous roles including Jerry O’Connell as Superman, Jason O’Mara as Batman, and Rosario Dawson as Wonder Woman. I haven’t seen most of them, but I do think the casting for these two movies were rather good. Rebecca Romijn (O’Connell’s wife) plays Lois Lane, and while she does OK, whoever decided to cast Rainn Wilson as Lex Luthor deserves a raise. I never would have thought of that before, but after hearing the arrogance drip off Wilson’s line-readings, it makes me wonder why it didn’t happen sooner. Additionally, Black Lightning‘s Cress Williams plays Steel and Gotham‘s Cameron Monaghan plays Superboy. It’s an all-around good cast.
Now, since it is set in a New 52 sort of continuity and the original stories pre-dated that reboot, it’s not exactly a faithful adaptation of the original story, and as I really remember digging the original Reign, I will say it is thematically similar but takes some necessary and creative changes to fit into the 87 minute running time, and it does get the characters right, particularly Lois, Steel, Luthor, and Superboy. There’s a nice moment when Wonder Woman and Lois Lane bond a bit, some other scenes where the regular citizens of Metropolis show how much Superman may have inspired them, and the backstory for Superboy finding his own way away from his creators while Steel acts as something of a group conscience just works. The action is good, the character work is good, and the plot moves along well. I dug it quite a bit, though it does have a post-credits scene setting up another movie somewhere along the line. I’ll see it when it comes, but in the meantime, let’s say 9 out of 10 rib orders.