11th Sep2020

‘Superman: Man of Tomorrow’ Blu-ray Review

by Phil Wheat

Featuring the voices of: Darren Criss, Ryan Hurst, Ike Amadi, Zachary Quinto, Alexandra Daddario, Brett Dalton, Neil Flynn, Bellamy Young | Written by Tim Sheridan | Directed by Chris Palmer

It’s the dawn of a new age of heroes, and Metropolis has just met its first. But as Daily Planet intern Clark Kent – working alongside reporter Lois Lane – secretly wields his alien powers of flight, super-strength and x-ray vision in the battle for good, there’s even greater trouble on the horizon. Follow the budding hero as he engages in bloody battles with intergalactic bounty hunter Lobo and fights for his life to halt the attack of power-hungry alien parasite.

Superman: Man of Tomorrow is not only a rebooting of the DC Animated Universe, no longer required to stick to the continuity of DC’s “The New 52” which previous entries followed, but it’s also a retelling of the backstory for The Man of Steel, taking the audience to his early days as an intern at the Daily Planet and his beginnings as a learning-on-the-job Superman… Essentially this is like DC’s version of Spider-Man Homecoming – complete with a pre-costume Superman flying around and not quite getting the hero thing right. Which in this case leads to the creation of the aforementioned power-hungry alien parasite.

The biggest change here is the strange decision to alter Superman’s origins so much that it now involves the participation of alien bounty hunter Lobo (who seriously need his own DC Animated movie, really!) and J’onn J’onzz, aka Martian Manhunter; a character whose appearance here is more akin that of the CW show Supergirl rather than the Martian Manhunter I am more familiar with in the comics – though to be fair that version was the straight man in the comedic take on the Justice League in the late 80s/early 90s! Whilst using these character within Superman’s origin story is a little odd, the idea that J’onn J’onzz and Superman, aka Kal-El, are both the last of their kind is a really nice tough that adds some emotional resonance to a animated film that seems more interested in showing Supes in action – fighting Lobo, fighting the alien parasite – than digging into Superman’s “new” beginnings. Though to be fair there is a lot of internal conflict in this version of Superman, which at least gives this origin story a bit more depth. But then why rehash the origin as per usual? After all, we’ve seen it all before a myriad of times in other films, TV shows and even in the previous animated movies, so there’s no need to retread it again; and Superman: Man of Tomorrow certainly doesn’t do that!

If I’m honest, the real selling point for Superman: Man of Tomorrow is the appearance of Lobo. One of DC’s best anti-heroes, Lobo has been overlooked in pretty much every DC property outside of the comics. Though given his addition here and the characters appearance in the Krypton TV show, perhaps things are changing? Here Lobo does not disappoint… Epitomised in this film as the typical loud-mouth bad-ass he is in my favourite comic iterations of the character Lobo is brought to [larger than] life by the voice acting of Sons of Anarchy star Ryan Hurst, who seems to be channeling a little bit of his SoA co-star Ron Perlman in his performance! It’s a brilliant take – cocky, arrogant and a little bit camp – on the character and one I’d love to see explored more in this new animated universe.

Speaking of new animation… Superman: Man of Tomorrow‘s animation style is light-years away from what preceded it, looking much more like the TV show Archer than anything else. It takes some getting used to but once you acclimatise to it, you’ll soon realise that this new style and its more vibrant use of colours really help capture that comic book style, leaving the dark and gloomy days of the DC universe behind (hopefully).

Extras on the Blu-ray are a little light on substance for my taste. I was hoping that the two featurettes, Lobo: Natural Force of Chaos and Martian Manhunter: Lost and Found, would give us a deep-dive into the characters and their history; and the reasons for why they were included in this animated feature but instead we got a couple of puff-pieces that wouldn’t look out of place on a episode of E! There’s a nice addition of a couple of the old Superman: The Animated Series episodes but if you’re a Superman fan you’ve probably already got the complete series boxset.

Superman: Man of Tomorrow is available on Digital Download, DVD, Blu-ray and limited-edition Blu-ray with mini-figure now.

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