Superman: Red Son which is directed by Sam Liu adapts the famous work of Mark Millar and is the latest entry into the DC Animated Universe. Being a fan of Liu’s previous DC work with titles such as Wonder Woman: Bloodlines, Suicide Squad: Hell to Pay and The Death and Return of Superman I was going into this with high expectations. Not only due to Sam Liu’s involvement, but because Superman: Red Son just happens to be one of my favourite graphic novels ever. And I’m happy to report that for the most part Superman: Red Son met those expectations. Is it perfect? No, it definitely has its issues which I will get into later on. But throughout the 80+ minute runtime, even though I knew what was going to happen I found myself invested every step of the way until the climax.
For this review I will not be going into details about the comic itself or what happens in the movie because I want to try keep this as spoiler-free as possible. If you haven’t read the comic I would highly recommend you pick it up either before or after watching this adaptation.
Superman: Red Son can only be described as the ultimate ‘what if?’ story. Instead of superman’s pod landing in a farm in Kanas. This time it lands on the other side of the world…in Russia. So not only is this Superman raised by different parents, he’s also raised up in a totally different environment and this helps shape him as an entirely different Superman than the one we’re so used to seeing. This is why I love the comic so much. I find twists like these to iconic characters so fascinating and Superman: Red Son is no different.
Seeing how Superman operates in 1950s Russia is refreshing when it comes to the character because part of what makes this setting so different is the political climate of the country at the time. And while he tries his best to help the people judging by what side of the fence you’re on you can actually see this Superman as either the hero or villain of the story. What I liked about this adaption of the story is how it tries to humanise Superman more than in the comic. I could still sense the essence of Superman in version of the character with how he dealt with issues. Whether you agree with him or not you could always see that he was trying his best to better the lives of others.
The action in Superman: Red Son is definitely its strongest aspect. Fight scenes are shot well and are straight up brutal at times. This is certainly the case when Batman gets involved. Batman is another depiction of a character which I love when it comes to this movie. Plus, I don’t care how many times it happens or what iterations of the characters they are. I will never get tired of watching Superman and Batman go toe-to-toe for a couple of minutes. The inclusion of the Green Lantern Corps was much needed too as with their Lantern Rings they bring an entirely different dynamic which helped bring some variety to the fight scenes.
One of the major complaints when it comes to the DC Animated movies is the quality of the animation. Now, usually it doesn’t bother me that much. But with Superman: Red Son it actually did. For a story that was set in the 1950s of Russia it sure didn’t look or feel like it. It’s kind of hard to explain, but it felt like I was just watching another DC Animated movie and a lot of that has to do with the animation style. This might be because I’ve spent the last week watching all of the DC Animated movies in preparation for Justice League Dark: Apokolips War. But those movies should look and feel the same because they are part of the same universe. I just wish the studio changed up their animation style when it came to the Elseworlds movies to further help differentiate them from the current timeline.
I haven’t gone into much detail about the changes and similarities from the source materials. Going into the movie like with previous adaptions I wasn’t expecting a full adaption. I knew there was going to be a few changes. And for the most part I was happy with those changes. However, when it comes to the ending of the movie this is where I have my biggest issue. Not that anything was changed, something was left out. A major twist in the final panels of the comic which I love. Honestly, it’s my favourite part of the story. I still remember that jaw-dropping moment as I was turning those final pages. I just don’t see what was gained by leaving out that final twist from the comic. Once again, if you haven’t picked up the comic I highly recommend you do for that twist alone.
Overall, while Superman: Red Son is far from perfect I still believe that it is a solid and warranted adaptation of the source material. Regardless of my issues with the ending and some other changes from the source material there is still enough here that should keep you entertained especially, when it comes to the story and the action. I would also say that there are parts of the movie which are done better here than in the comic itself. That’s why I’m always open to adaptations like this. I love to see a creators take on a fellow creators work and with Superman: Red Son Sam Liu does a solid job at adapting one of the greatest comics stories ever made while adding his own touch to it.
Superman: Red Son – 4/5
Superman: Red Son is available on Digital Download now, and Blu-ray™& DVD on March 16, 2020.
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