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March 6, 2011

Stay Tooned Sundays: All-Star Superman

This week’s STS is a bittersweet one as we review All-Star Superman written by Dwayne McDuffie, who recently and unexpectedly passed away while undergoing surgery. For those of you who don’t recognize the name, Dwayne was a comic book writer, co-founder of Milestone Media, and played an important role in many different animated series. Some of the shows that Dwayne had a part in writting and/or producing were Justice League, Static Shock, Ben 10, Teen Titans, and several of the DC animated movies. McDuffie was also known for being a big proponent of multiculturalism in comics, which led him to create characters such as Static Shock, and have Jon Stewart be the Green Lantern used in the Justice League animated series. Dwayne McDuffie is a legend in this industry and he will be missed.

Title: All-Star Superman
Written by: Dwayne McDuffie, Grant Morrison (original story), Frank Quitely
Director: Sam Liu
Company: Warner Bros. Animation, DC Entertainment
Distributed by: Warner Home Video
US Release Date: February 22, 2011
Length: 76 min.
MPAA: Rated PG

All-Star Superman is a Superman story unlike any other Superman story told before. Based on the All-Star comic series by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely, this movie considers the question: What would Superman do if he knew he only had a few months to live? To most, Superman is a god-like being with nearly unlimited power, so for him to have to come to terms with his own mortality is brilliant. The story is grounded way more into science fiction than most other Superman stories.

In the movie, Lex Luthor has moved past his evil businessman phase and has returned once more to his mad scientist roots. He devises a plan to destroy Superman once and for all, using the source of Superman’s own powers to do so. Once Superman discovers what Lex has done to him and realizes that he doesn’t have long to live, he begins to get his affairs in order, as it were. Supes reveals his identity to Lois and finally advances their relationship to the next level. He also says his goodbyes to the Kents in a round about way, and finds a solution for what he needs to do with the tiny city of  Kandor.

In the meantime, Lex is closing in on the end of his death row sentence and gets interviewed one final time by none other than Clark Kent. The interview ends up being one of the best scenes in the movie, as Lex explains his hatred of Superman by comparing it to what he likes about Clark Kent. The two are then interrupted by the Parasite, who breaks free of his cell after draining energy from Clark. It’s quite enjoyable to see Lex trying to protect a bumbling Clark from the Parasite, while at the same Clark is trying to protect Lex without him knowing.

There is also a bit where some time travelers come to challenge Superman in various contests for the hand of a temporally super powered Lois Lane. Superman later has to deal with some rogue Kryptonian astronauts that escaped Krypton’s destruction. They cause Supes some trouble, which is resolved in an unexpected way. In the end though, it comes down to the classic Lex vs. Superman showdown that also has some unexpected twist and turns and really gives a glimpse to sides of these characters that we normally don’t see.

With the shadow of death looming over this entire story, the movie does indeed have a bittersweet feeling throughout, but it is also fun and full of action. The voice cast, including James Denton, Christina Hendricks, Anthony LaPaglia, Ed Asner, and Matthew Gray Gubler, all do a great job and work well for this alternate universe story. With a completely original concept that makes the old “boy scout'” new and interesting again, this is one movie you won’t want to miss. The two disc DVD also has a great interview with Grant Morrison, where he gives some cool insight into the All-Star comic book series. Both the movie and Morrison’s interview made me want to go out and read the original story since I had not done so before.

Dwayne McDuffie (1962-2011)

Nick Zamora

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  1. Billy

    Great review Nick. McDuffie passing is a huge loss to the comic book community (especially in the african american community). This sounds like a cool movie, and one I definitely want to check out.

  2. When this movie was announced I realized that I had never read it in it’s entirety but I’m still picking up the movie soon. Friends of mine who were at the premiere in NY said that they loved it and that it didn’t stray too far from the source material.

  3. I was really hoping the Bizarro bit would have been in this movie.

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