This is probably my favorite scene in all of comic books. Superman is obviously my favorite superhero and Clark Kent and Lois Lane are my favorite comic book couple. So, when I see Superman bleed, that’s like, “Wow!” Because he’s freaking Superman, but then to see him dying, it gives me the shivers just thinking about it. On top of all that, to see Lois Lane, holding a fallen and dying Superman, well, I get teary-eyed easily. Such a great and sad moment in the history of comics and perhaps the most talked about moment ever (the event actually drew real world mainstream press in the United States and internationally).
Max Landis, writer of the great 2012 film, Chronicle, was approached by DC, apparently. They wanted him to write the reboot for The Death and Return of Superman, a series DC had done all the way back in 1992.
Essentially, if you’re not familiar, here’s the quick rundown: Doomsday. He’s a killing machine that battles Superman in the streets of Metropolis until Superman is able to kill him, but right after he does so, he himself dies. Then as the story arc continues, the world mourns his death and four new “Supermen” come in claiming to be him. Eventually, this leads to the real Superman coming back, as it’s comics, they always come back.
Anyhow, even though Landis turned down the reboot offer, he presented what his story would have been in this forty-two minute YouTube video:
I quite like his story. The key points that make it stand out for me:
- The graphic violence. Some may find it a turn off just how explicit and violent it is, but I like it because it makes sense. You’re talking about the most destructive force imaginable going through a city of mortals and even superheros; it’s going to be a bloodbath.
- Pretty much every superhero available comes to Metropolis to take on Doomsday or otherwise help in some fashion. I love imagining such a scenario. And then Doomsday annihilates them in easy fashion, even the prominent members of the Justice League. Such is good as a way to setup just how powerful and important Superman is to taking down Doomsday, his significance as the leader of the Justice League and what he means to the world.
- Lex Luthor’s characterization is spot on; he views himself as the savior of the world and Metropolis specifically. Instead, he becomes the pawn of General Zod/Brainiac.
- Batman coming to the farm. With that, as Landis said, they both learn from each other and grow to respect one another. They come from such different backgrounds and as such, they have much to teach the other. Superman learning how to fight like Batman sounds incredibly bad-ass.
- Of course, Superman dying is huge, but the reason he dies is significant: he loves the people of earth and would do anything for them including sacrificing himself. Yet, he has to learn how to be “Superman” again and trust in himself. Landis offers great characterization there.
- Doomsday’s defeat is well-crafted. Wonder Woman, in a bad-ass moment, is able to drive her sword into the shoulder of Doomsday. Aquaman later is able to push it in and bend it a little more. Finally, when Superman comes on the scene, it’s the sword he uses to kill Doomsday by thrusting it through his head.
Personally, I would love to this storyline again, as it’s such a powerful and significant storytelling. My only criticism is that Lois seemed a bit too cardboard for my taste, but I would assume had he done the series, she would have been fleshed out more.
Eventually, my dream scenario is to see at least a trilogy for the new Man of Steel movies, which weaves in the Death of Superman via Doomsday. Maybe they go with Brainiac in the sequel featuring Batman and then after a Justice League movie, do the third Superman film with the Doomsday arc. Then in a Justice League sequel, you could deal with his death/return. Finally, with a third Justice League movie, you could bring in the ultimate threat in Darkseid.
I can hope.