I recently watched an advanced copy of All-Star Superman and was very impressed with this DC Comics animated feature. Based on the excellent comic books written by Grant Morrison and illustrated by Frank Quitely, All-Star Superman is a touching feature that humanizes The Man of Steel, pays tribute to his storied history, and dazzles with kind of heroics only The Last Son of Krypton is capable of. After the severely disappointing Superman/Shazam: The Return of Black Adam, I was thrilled to watch a superior Superman adventure. Here are some thoughts (not a review!) on All-Star Superman (spoilers ahead!).
All-Star Superman has Kal-El tackling tremendous challenges, including the most daunting one of all — death. In the comics, Morrison used Superman’s powers to reestablish the fact that he’s the greatest hero in the DC Universe. He also did a masterful job at making him seem vulnerable, human, and interesting. That’s so hard to do with a character that’s mostly invulnerable and unbeatable, yet Morrison pulled it off in a way that feels natural and effortless.
Watching Superman deal with his impending doom is even more compelling than watching him accomplish marvelous feats. It’s great watching him reveal his identity to Lois Lane and spend a day courting her. It’s fun watching the various facets of Kal-El. There’s the heroic and beloved Superman. There’s the bumbling and clumsy Clark Kent facade. And, perhaps most importantly, there’s also the earnest, respectful, and kind-hearted Clark Kent that was the product of a wholesome upbringing in Smallville. Morrison makes all three facets of the character distinct, yet harmonious.
Obviously it was impossible to include the events of all 12 issues in a 75-minute movie, but this a great adaptation that’s true to the tone of the source. Throughout the movie I felt amazed by Superman’s heroics, touched by his interactions with the woman he loves and his mortal enemy, and moved by the way he dealt with death. Sure, there were some details and arcs that were left out, but I was more than satisfied with Dwayne McDuffie’s adaptation of Morrison’s books.
The same goes for the animated interpretation of Frank Quitely’s art. Quitely’s illustrations are so distinct and unique. The animators did a good job at recreating the tone of his art. Again, a lot of details and intricacies were left out, but that was completely expected. A stricter translation could have been done, but that would have required a lot more time and money.
While the story and art are not quite as great as the comics, they’re very good and truly brought to life by Christopher Drake’s excellent score. I’ve enjoyed his work in past DC animated features, but this is his best yet. His music helps deliver the bright sense of optimism you’re supposed to get from watching Superman and imagining you’re in Metropolis. More importantly, the music helps replace some of what was lost in translation from print to animation.
As an added bonus, there are commentary tracks, a couple of Superman: The Animated Series episodes, and a feature on the upcoming Green Lantern: Emerald Knights. As a huge Green Lantern mark, I was thrilled to learn more about this upcoming animated movie. As far as teaser features go, it worked. I’m totally amped for Emerald Knights.
I highly recommend All-Star Superman. It’s not quite as good as Batman: Under the Red Hood, but it’s very close. If you have any questions about the movie, leave ’em in the comments section and I’ll answer ’em.