Directed by Sam Liu
What if Superman landed in the Soviet Union? That is the basis for this film.
The theme of the story is that even those with the best of intentions can become blinded and corrupted. That is more or less what happens to Superman (voiced by Jason Isaacs) here. He has lofty ideals, but he fails to see how what he is doing is not much different than what came before. He has just found different ways to do it. He was prompted to take control from Stalin (voiced by William Salyers) after finding his childhood friend Svetlana (Winter Ave Zoli) in a labor camp for no reason other than knowing him before he was Superman. Rather than labor camps he used implants from the captured Brainiac (voiced by Paul Williams) for labor as shown by one gentleman who is a janitor at a museum. That is just one example.
We get alternate versions of several DC characters such as:
- Lois Lane (voiced by Amy Acker)
- John Stewart (voiced by Phil LaMarr)
- Hal Jordan (voiced by Sasha Roiz)
- Batman (voiced by Roger Craig Smith)
- Guy Gardener (voiced by Travis Willingham)
But the most surprising alternate version is Lex Luthor (voiced by Diedrich Bader). While still driven by his own significant ego he is not a villain here but a bit of a detached hero. He knows that he is better than most if not the best that humanity has to offer, and he understands the threat that this version of Superman possibly represents and has a plan to deal with him. His methods are more or less what you would expect from the character in the standard DC universe but here it’s less for evil purposes and more to stop a threat. I say this because at the end of the film he resigns from office. It is not because of some scandal or anything like that but because he has done what he set out to do and it was a plan put in motion 25 years prior. The regular Lex Luthor would not have stepped aside.
The action and story as always is solid for a DC film. DC knows how to produce quality animated features. I say this often but why do they not release a theatrical feature? The only one they sent to theaters was the excellent Batman: Mask of the Phantasm in the 90s. I guess its poor performance doomed future chances but that was ages ago. Anywho…
Superman: Red Son is a great Elseworlds film. I just wish it had been a little longer as it felt like it rushed through a few things. His years on the Russian farm should have been fleshed out a little to get a clearer understanding of the character’s motivations. And all it took was one moment to make him decide to take over. Otherwise great movie. DC does it again.
The Phantom Stranger
Directed by Bruce Timm
Included on the Blu-ray is a short film starring The Phantom Stranger (voiced by Peter Serafinowicz). I like when DC showcases some of their lesser known properties in animated shorts.
Here the Phantom Stranger must save a girl named Marcie (voiced by Natalie Lander) who has gone to party with some of her friends in an abandoned mansion. Little does she know that she is going to be a feast for an ancient being that lives off the energy of others.
It is a short and compact story that does not get too complicated as it is meant to showcase this character that has never gotten much attention. In my opinion these shorts should be used to test the waters for possible other DC animated features. The sad part is they are just treats rather than tests. If they were otherwise we would have a Spectre or Green Arrow or any other of a dozen plus characters featured in their own films.
It is a good story with the Bruce Tim style of animation which I think is some of the best for adventure stories. This short film is entertaining.
The whole of this release is an amazing treat sure to satisfy animation and superhero fans alike.