After weeks of watching Wall-E again and again – my son’s current favorite movie of the moment, I convinced him that we should sit down and watch All-Star Superman that arrived in the Major Spoilers HQ this past week. The pull to get him to agree was that it featured the death of Superman. It worked on him, and I would bet that the plot point works to bring others into the Morrison fold.

ALL-STAR SUPERMAN – THE MOVIE
Writer: Dwayne McDuffie based on a story by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely
Director: Sam Liu
CAST
Lois Lane – Christina Hendricks
Jimmy Olsen – Matthew Gray Gubler
Lex Luthor – Anthony LaPaglia
Superman – James Denton
Producers: Bobbie Page and Bruce Timm

Previously in All-Star Superman: Once upon a time, a writer, who some hail as the second coming, decided to kill Superman. Along with his favorite art companion, the duo set about telling an epic tale of heroism and sacrifice, and in the end, turned more than a few heads in coming up with a great story. The volume of work was so well received that Warner Bros. Animation decided to set about adapting the story for a direct to DVD movie. This is the result.

SO WHAT’S MISSING?

If you don’t know the story, I’d suggest first listening to the Major Spoilers Podcast, where we break the Absolute edition down for you.

When it comes to adaptations, things are going to need to be cut down to size to fit within the time limit the producers have been given. In this case, quite a lot has been removed from the Morrison tale

  • The entire Jimmy Olsen side story
  • Nearly everything having to do with Dr. Quintum and P.R.O.J.E.C.T.
  • The entire Bizarro story
  • Superman time traveling to meet his father one last time
  • The Kandor plot resolved in around 2 minutes of screen time.

With all this gone, that leaves just under half of the individual chapters from Morrison’s book still in tact, but it is enough to tell a complete tale. Even with the inclusion of the Samson and Atlas, and Replacement Supermen chapters, the core of the tale is still there – Superman is willing to do whatever it takes to save Earth, and those he holds dear.

When it is all boiled down, Dwayne McDuffie took the material and distilled it to the essence of what makes All-Star Superman a good story. And in the process, he may have even upped Morrison in one crucial moment in the story. When Luthor finally sees the world the way Superman sees it, it kind of falls flat on the printed page. McDuffie on the other hand, expands upon Lex’s revelation and turns it into a much more dramatic, and cathartic moment for the man who plagued Superman for years. It’s very well done.

I was really disappointed that DC didn’t add a lot of extras to the DVD like they’ve done in the past. I was really hoping for another short subject, but I guess the days of getting bonus cartoons on a single disc are long gone. Commentaries and sneak peeks at upcoming projects (Emerald Knights and Superman/Batman: Apocalypse) are there, but it just isn’t the same without more value for the money.

QUITELY TRANSLATED

I’ve never been a huge fan of Frank Quitely’s work, so I was pleased that the art team decided to take the artist’s style and mix it with their own toning it down in the process. The extreme lines that Quitely uses simply wouldn’t translate on the screen without looking like a complete mess, so the compromise works. That being said, there are moments at the beginning of the movie, that look like they are ripped from the page, and for those that don’t like his style, it could be a turn-off for the rest of the picture.

The animation style that is used works well in this adaptation; there are no special tricks or gimmicks used, though it’s interesting to sit down with the All-Star Superman Absolute Edition after watching the movie to see how much was changed in the final shot.

BOTTOM LINE: WORTH IT

When all is said and done, I think Dwayne McDuffie did an excellent job in translating the work into a movie. All the key elements are there, and for those approaching the material for the first time, the movie serves as the gateway to a much more broad story. I think the two go hand in hand, with the collected book serving as a nice supplement to the movie. Hopefully, DC and Warner Bros. will do some kind of marketing gimmick where they use one to drive sales to the other. If you are looking to fill your DVD shelf, and you don’t mind adaptations that leave a lot of the material out, then All-Star Superman is worth picking up. I enjoyed the my evening watching the movie, and think you will, too. I’m giving All-Star Superman the animated movie 4 out of 5 Stars.

Rating: ★★★★☆

The Author

Stephen Schleicher

Stephen Schleicher

Stephen Schleicher began his career writing for the Digital Media Online community of sites, including Digital Producer and Creative Mac covering all aspects of the digital content creation industry. He then moved on to consumer technology, and began the Coolness Roundup podcast. A writing fool, Stephen has freelanced for Sci-Fi Channel's Technology Blog, and Gizmodo. Still longing for the good ol' days, Stephen launched Major Spoilers in July 2006, because he is a glutton for punishment.

You can follow him on Twitter @MajorSpoilers and tell him your darkest secrets...

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14 Comments

  1. Turks
    February 20, 2011 at 11:03 pm — Reply

    still sad that they left out the bizzaro tale it was by far one of my favorite parts of the story

  2. Vamuli
    February 21, 2011 at 3:53 am — Reply

    I’m big fan of Quitely art so I was pleasantly surprised to see how much his influence remained in the movies style because I had been expecting them to get rid of it completely.

  3. Rocket Rooster
    February 21, 2011 at 4:33 am — Reply

    What about the ‘controversy’ that is brewing online about the scene where Superman takes out Solaris? Some webpages are calling Superman a killer. In the comic it was clear that Superman knew – in the future – Solaris would be rehabilitated but in the movie, without that context, people that have seen the movie complain that it seems like Superman mercilessly killed the deadly AI.

    Opinions?

    • February 21, 2011 at 8:33 am — Reply

      Since it wasn’t a problem, and there was never a full on “did he ‘kill’ or not” discussion, it wasn’t a controversy as far as I’m concerned. Plus, is it really killing if it is a AI? How many times has Superman eradicated Braniac, only to have him come back?

      • Rocket Rooster
        February 21, 2011 at 9:54 am — Reply

        Oh, don’t get me wrong you’re preaching to the choir – however – a point was made that Solaris begs for mercy and Superman (in the movie) says something along the lines that ‘he’s run out.’ Kinda hardcore for the kiddies (10 and below) who might want to watch it.

        Hell, I remember the ‘controversy’ that arose when the first issue came out and people were apalled that Superman killed Luthor’s controlled ‘avatar’ and that clearly wasn’t A.I.

      • Rocket Rooster
        February 21, 2011 at 10:11 am — Reply

        Forgot to do this in the previous message. Here’s a link to one of the websites calling Superman a killer

        http://www.bleedingcool.com/2011/02/20/why-all-star-superman-is-a-killer-on-dvd/

      • Rocket Rooster
        February 21, 2011 at 10:25 am — Reply

        Here’s the other link – please remember the word controversy from the original post I placed is in quotation marks – it’s just something that if not controversial, it at least seems to be a common thread within those people that didn’t like the change from comic to movie.

        http://robot6.comicbookresources.com/2011/02/it-all-comes-out-right-in-the-end-a-review-of-the-all-star-superman-movie/

        • February 21, 2011 at 11:51 am — Reply

          People like to create controversy to generate page views and get fans riled up at a lot of nothing. Wait… are we talking politics or comics here?

          • Rocket Rooster
            February 21, 2011 at 1:24 pm — Reply

            True, true some do but how can one know if a point is legitimate unless posters on more than one site harp on the same thing?

            Superman HAS killed in animation before – his fight with the Parasite in the sixties cartoon, not too sure in the Fleischer cartoons and in live action – he left criminals to die in the Ayln serial and the infamous 13th episode of the Reeves first season IIRC “The Stolen Costume” so, it’s nothing new.

            But considering that All-Star Superman was (IMHO) a work of art and a labor of love (for those that adapted it) it is curious how the scene is so drastically different to the point that it allows to paint Superman is so harsh a light – maybe it was accidental, maybe it was pre-meditated, maybe like yourself it didn’t really mean anything to the people doing the editing at the time.

            Who knows?

            Still damn odd and interesting how different people react to the scene, tho.

  4. February 21, 2011 at 10:27 am — Reply

    So Steven…. is Leo Quintum Lex Luthor?

    • February 21, 2011 at 11:52 am — Reply

      Nope. Leo Quintum is Leo Quintum. His role in this story is just greatly reduced to a beginning and ending segment.

      • February 21, 2011 at 12:47 pm — Reply

        See, that undermines part of the story that I always loved, the part of the story that they don’t tell.

        Lex, has his epiphany and realizes that he has misspent his entire life. So he rejuvenates himself and goes back in time to be the man that he should have been rather than the man he was, LeO rather than LeX.

        I know there’s no way to prove that’s what happened, but it’s Grant Morison. If anybody would pull a stunt like that, it’s him.

  5. Blackthunder01
    February 22, 2011 at 7:18 am — Reply

    I’m buying this after work today. I never read All Star Superman. Correction. I’ve read the first 3 issues and really didn’t like it. Why am I buying it then? Because I own ever DC Animated release they’ve put out. I’m not really looking forward to Grant Morrison invading my DVD player but I’m hoping that the film adaptation captures my attention a lot more than the comic did.

    Also, I’m already missing the animated shorts.

  6. Brent
    February 22, 2011 at 4:41 pm — Reply

    It is so sad that Dwayne McDuffie died just as this DVD is being released. R.I.P.

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