I read somewhere recently that comic books do superhero fights better than movies because things happen too fast in the movies. I understand where that’s coming from, but I’m not sure I buy it completely. Spider-man’s fights were pretty cool in the movies (especially vs. Doc Ock), for example.
Superman: Doomsday, being the animated version of the “Death of Superman” comic book series, had the perfect chance to prove that sentiment wrong. It was a good fight (two good fights, actually), but I suspect the comics had more impact for most people. They simply had more time to be involved in the story surrounding the death in the comics. I think that’s the failure of this movie: they didn’t spend enough time on the lead-up to the death.
Yes, we clearly get the impression that Doomsday is heartless and mindlessly violent, and Superman has to take him down. We also get the impression that he’s tough – real tough. But I never saw anything registered on Superman’s face, or spoken in his lines, that showed me that he knew this might be the most physically challenging thing he’d ever faced – that he might have to sacrifice himself to stop it. That would have put this movie over the top for me – his self-awareness.
I couldn’t help but make comparisons of the final fight with Darkseid in Justice League Unlimited. Though much shorter, it made more of an impact with me because of the speech he made:
That’s the kind of thing this movie needed.
Still, the beatings in this movie were impressive.
The one thing I like more about this movie was the scale of destruction wreaked by the fight. That was much closer to what it would be like if a battle this epic were to be fought. Buildings were brought down in no uncertain terms. There were whole blocks ruined by these fights. The final blow thew out a shockwave that was almost nuclear in its force.
There were two fights in this movie. Obviously, you can’t have the death of Superman be the end of the movie. You gotta show the comeback, so the death was only half the story. The second battle pits Superman as the underdog. That one, I think, was done better than the first. More time was spent in dialog expressing the thoughts of the combatants – though I still never got a sense of regret from Superman, which I think would have been appropriate for his character.
The movie could have benefited from an extra 5 to 10 minutes on character moments intertwined with the action. That would still keep it under 90 minutes total.
One other thing: while the body count in this film is high, there are only two instances of blood shown. I’m glad the team decided to keep it “clean” because this is bound to be seen by kids. There is a part of me that wants to see the adult animÃ© version of this, though. Take a look at a contrast between his death in the movie vs. the comic book version:
For all those who want to be spoiled for the first fight, here it is in full. My favorite moment: when he grabs Doomsday by the teeth.
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If you’re into Superman, rent this one. There’s even a moment where Lex surprised me. Maybe I’m too used to Lex in Smallville, but this Lex is cold.