Superman: Man of Tomorrow is the new animated direct-to-digital feature from Warner Animation, and retells the story of how Kalel, the last son of the distant world Krypton, came to Earth and became our greatest hero.
The new film rewrites a bit of canonical Superman history, bypassing the entire Superboy thing. Instead, it’s an adult Clark that realizes that his powers are something he could use to help a lot of people. The measure of a Superman is the size of his villains, and Superman: Man of Tomorrow does not disappoint in that department, with Parasite, Lex Luthor and Lobo doing the honors.
As with any great story, it’s all about the writing, and this new film looks like it’s in strong shape there. One of the common pitfalls a superhero movie faces is that they’re never about just the one hero. The lead character only makes sense in context, and that means pulling in the entire cast of characters in some form. The less fidelity the film has to the established mileu surrounding the lead character, generally the worse it’s received, but the closer the writers adhere to canon, the greater the risk that the storyline is put in a dramatic straightjacket.
That doesn’t seem to be problem with this film – just given what we know, it’s all about contrasts. Who is Clark before he becomes Superman? How does Lois Lane teach Clark, the ultimate sheltered farm boy, the ways of the world? Then there’s the Martian Manhunter, who bonds with Clark / Kalel over each of them being the last of their kind, and the antipathy between Kalel and Lobo – again, each being the last of their kind, but with a far different dynamic. There’s also Parasite, a STAR Labs accident victim who starts out being human but is consumed by new powers he doesn’t want. Of course there’s also Lex Luthor, who thematically has always viewed Superman as a threat to humanity, in a metaphor for blind racism.
Many of these animated films take the opportunity to explore edgy character designs and edgy storylines. This one appears to be going back to basics, stripping away affectation and returning Superman to the clean, fresh symbol of hope we all remember and love about the Man of Steel.
Superman: Man of Tomorrow stars Darren Criss voicing the title role, with Alexandra Daddario (True Detective, San Andreas) as Lois Lane, Zachary Quinto as Lex Luthor, Ike Amadi as the Martian Manhunter, Brett Dalton (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.) as Parasite, and Ryan Hurst (The Walking Dead) as the bounty hunter Lobo. It’s directed by Chris Palmer, and written by Tim Sheridan.
It’s all finished. Usually by the time Warner Bros. finishes an animated direct-to-digital feature there’s a release date. Not in this case – it’s listed on IMDB as being due out this year in 2020, and will likely be simultaneously available on DC Universe, BluRay and digital download, but the exact date is still a mystery.