The DC Animated Universe has come to an end, but that doesn’t mean the company are done with their animated epics. Superman: Man of Tomorrow offers a completely clean slate for the company to build upon, with a brilliant new art style and finally drops the dark, gloominess that plagues the entire DC franchise. Don’t let the new style fool you though, this is still a far cry from the children’s Saturday morning cartoons.
With a new start comes a new animation style. The production team have completely reinvented DC Animation’s tone that has been present for a long time now and boy, does it look good.
It’s clear the team have put a lot of research into comic book art and have done a great job translating from page to screen. Characterised by thick outlines and cell-shading, the film’s animation really pops off the screen during action heavy scenes. It’s a thrill to watch and, unlike some of the other animated films, never becomes overwhelming.
While this film is a step away from the dark and gritty tone of old, it’s not trying to shoehorn in jokes at every opportunity either. The balance of serious dialogue and humour is well navigated, with the occasional joke here and there, but then comes Lobo. Of course, Lobo is hardly the tamest character to start with, but Man of Tomorrow takes him to a new level of ridiculousness, even if watching him turn into a complete sex pest around Lois Lane was a little much.
If you’re hoping for a complex storyline with plenty of twists, turns, or thought-provoking scenes, you’re out of luck here. However, that doesn’t mean the storyline is bad. This is a straightforward tale of Superman rising to the challenge put before him. It may not break new ground, but sticking to close to the original narrative means the viewer can just relax and enjoy the film. In this highly over-analysed genre, it’s nice to not have to worry about picking up on subtle references or wondering what a minor moment will mean for the wider continuity.
Superman: Man of Tomorrow boasts a fantastic cast, full of familiar faces and established voice artists. Glee star Darren Criss takes the lead, with Zachary Quinto (Lex Luthor), Neil Flynn (Jonathan Kent), Ike Amadi (Martian Manhunter) and Alexandra Daddario (Lois Lane) proving the supporting roles. With talent like this, you would expect blistering voice performances, especially as the intensity hots up. Yet, unfortunately that’s not what we get. Lines are delivered in a very plain fashion and it seems to be a struggle to convey emotions that characters are experiencing.
However, there is one actor who stands out above the rest. Ryan Hurst absolutely shines as Lobo throughout the film and sounds like he’s having a brilliant time while voicing the Main Man. It’s just a shame none of the other cast members seemed to enjoy the recording.
While the film does a great job in retelling the classic Superman tale, it’s nothing fans haven’t seen or read hundreds of times already. Clark Kent becoming The Man of Steel isn’t a bad story by a long shot, it’ll always sit high on the greatest comic book stories of all-time list. However, as with every superhero, origin story fatigue rears its ugly head once again.
Overall, Superman: Man of Tomorrow is a hugely enjoyable watch, a perfect flick for relaxing after a long day. It’s also a great starting point for anyone new to DC’s animation films, the story is well paced and you don’t need much knowledge of the DCAU to enjoy it.
SUPERMAN: MAN OF TOMORROW AVAILABLE ON DIGITAL NOW AND ON DVD, BLU-RAY™ & LIMITED-EDITION BLU-RAY™ WITH MINI-FIGURE SEPTEMBER 7TH