Thursday, July 9, 2020

Superman: Red Son

Based on the comic mini-series of the same name, Superman: Red Son re-imagines a world where Superman's (Jason Isaacs) rocket crashed in the Soviet Union rather than Kansas. As with Mark Millar's comic, the film's greatest strength is the set-up and the juxtaposition of seeing Superman grow up under a Communist regime rather than learning to fight for truth, justice, and the American way.

The script by J.M. DeMatteis makes changes from the original comic which are most evident in in the character of our protagonist who is far darker than as presented in the comic. DeMatteis certainly take's the nurture over nature view as this Superman has far less respect for life than any we know (with the exception of Zack Snyder's Man of Steel). A common conceit is that Lex Luthor (Diedrich Bader) would have been a great hero if not for Superman. While still a flawed human being, the version of Lex is certainly less gray than even the Red Son mini-series portrayed.

I didn't think the Russian Batman (Roger Craig Smith) tie-in in the comic was all that successful and the movie doesn't do anything to change my opinion. While I'm a fan of Amy Acker, there's not much use for Lois Lane here other than a single scene between the Soviet Superman and the world's greatest reporter. The movie also brings in several other DC Heroes including Wonder Woman (Vanessa Marshall), Hal Jordan (Sasha Roiz), and John Stewart (Phil LaMarr) with varying degrees of success.

While I'm glad I sat down to watch Superman: Red Son, I think the movie (like the comic) loses momentum over the years in which Superman's life is explored and doubt I would return to watch it again anytime soon. I also don't think any of the changes here do much to either help or hinder what boils down to an interesting idea that is never quite as engaging as its promise suggests it could be. Superman: Red Son is currently available on Blu-ray, DVD, and several streaming platforms including DC Universe.

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