Hello, my friends. A different kind of Cold War is ready to unfold upon the world, especially when a familiar Kryptonian is involved. However, this isn’t the Kal-El that we’ve come to know from either this series’ specific string of interconnected flicks or even the regular universe from the comics. When he’s left in charge, we’ll find out how the conflicting sparks will fly as I welcome you back to another entry of…
Throughout this grand venture, we’ve delved into a few tales that dared to go outside of the norm and explore aspects that the regular continuity would never allow. From the familiar trinity with altered origins having to clear their names via a murder mystery within a world that hates & fears them to a Victorian Era Caped Crusader attempting to stop a famed serial killer from slaughtering women, these animated Elseworlds films have allowed audiences to watch familiar characters placed in unfamiliar situations. For this entry, we delve into an animated adaptation where Capitalism and Communism will clash within a Kryptonian twist in a particular tale called…
Released on February 25, 2020 for Digital Download before coming out on DVD, Blu-Ray and 4K Ultra HD Blu-Ray on March 17, this flick is based on a three-issue mini-series originally released between April and August 2003. It was written by Mark Millar, drawn by Dave Johnson, Andrew Robinson, Walden Wong & Killian Plunkett, while Paul Mounts handled coloring duties. With J.M. DeMatteis working on the screenplay and Sam Liu on directing duties, let’s march in with an iron fist for a global conflict unlike anything from our history books.
We open on a farm land within the Soviet Union in 1946 as a Young Boy (voiced by Tara Strong) is being pursued by a small group of ruffians who threaten to beat him up. During their hunt, a young girl named Svetlana (voiced by Winter Ave Zoli) is chasing after them and demands that they leave the boy alone. From there, the young lad runs around a tractor just as the ruffians catch up, but are surprised that he’s disappeared.
Just then, the head kid named Dimitri Radmanovich (voiced by Jason Spisak) gets hit by a rock that Svetlana has thrown at him. He tries to retaliate, but she easily punches him in the face before threatening to deck him again, which forces him and his fellow ruffians to take their leave.
Shortly afterwards, the young boy reemerges as she tells him that she won’t always be there to protect him and that he’ll need to eventually face his foes. However, he says that he wasn’t running away for fear of getting hurt, but because he would have gravely hurt them. As such, he demonstrates his burgeoning strength by easily lifting up the tractor. After placing it back down, he then says that he’s been feeling this incredible strength over the past several weeks before he picks her up and soars into the sky. With absolute amazement by his newfound powers, the scene ends with Svetlana telling him that he must use them in service “to the state” in order to help their people.
Following the opening credits, we then shift ahead to 1955 as George Taylor (voiced by Jim Ward) reports about an alien being within the Soviet Union possessing “powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men”. As shown within “footage released by the Russians”, Superman (voiced by Jason Isaacs) gives a demonstration as he easily withstands his comrades’ gunfire and flamethrowers before tossing a Soviet tank miles away. During his report, George exclaims that this would bring about “a new kind of arms race” and that America shouldn’t give into the fear that this propaganda is attempting to instill.
Afterwards, we shift over to the Luthor Company as Lex Luthor (voiced by Diedrich Bader) assures the President during their phone call how despite Central Intelligence’s belief of this grand being as a genuine article, he’ll make sure that Superman is real. He then says that he’ll need several hundred technicians, $20 million and even some special “permission to drop a satellite on Metropolis”. During this, his wife Lois Lane-Luthor (voiced by JLU’s Huntress herself, Amy Acker) comes in. Despite the President rightfully questioning this decision, Lex decides to end his phone call before they engage each other with a kiss.
We then shift over to the Soviet Union as the country’s Premier himself, Joseph Stalin (voiced by William Salyers) is commemorating the launch of the newest hydroelectric station. While he does acknowledge the contribution of 10,000 men who’ve built this dam, he says that this construct was completed in such a short time thanks to Superman’s help. As Supes waves to his fellow people, Petrovich (voiced by Travis Willingham) reminds him that he symbolizes the aspiration of their citizens before allowing him to speak to them. From there, Supes exclaims that he’s merely a servant who wants to help his fellow Soviet citizens. As such, he gives full credit towards the thousands of workers who built the dam as he wants it to stand for what their country’s people can strive for within their homeland and out into the world under their unified ideals. Under admired applause, he then flies to the top and throws the master switch to turn the hydroelectric station on before taking his leave.
As night falls upon the U.S.S.R., we shift over to a radar station as a soldier tells Col. Mazof that their Zenit satellite has fallen from orbit and is on a collision course with America’s Eastern Seaboard. Over in the daytime skies of Metropolis, the citizens see the satellite plummeting towards the city. Lois also catches this while the people around her begin to flee for their lives. Just then, Superman arrives and grabs the satellite as he redirects it away from the buildings before guiding it towards the water.
Afterwards, he approaches the citizens and says that he understands their fear of him. He then tell them that the Soviet Union doesn’t oppose America’s people, but they do defy the U.S. Government and only wish to free them from the supposed oppression by delivering “peace and equality”. Just then, Lois emerges and offers to interview him so that the American public can know him better. However, Superman declines since he believes that the press will twist his words, yet she points out his contradiction towards “the free expression of ideas” before he flies off in mild annoyance.
We then shift to the Daily Planet at night as Lois is up on the roof. Just then, Superman arrives to prove that he’s not afraid of the American press. After mentioning how a lack of fear can bring about “arrogance” and “recklessness”, she mentions how Pres. Eisenhower believes that the Soviet government purposefully sabotaged their own satellite in order for him to display his heroic effort. Despite her saying that this would be “the perfect propaganda opportunity”, Superman says that it shouldn’t be foolhardy to have a vision of a world where the poor & afflicted people are spared from utter gloom and that the working class can properly shape the planet for future generations. When Lois asks what he would know about humanity due to his alien birth, he says that he didn’t develop his powers until he was 12 years old. Also, he’s willing to protect Earth since it’s the only home he’s known. She then mentions that America is currently defending the free world, but Superman says that the country was founded upon “slaves & immigrants” and doesn’t believe that it has significantly changed, especially with the privileged living on top while others are greatly suffering. While Lois does admit the United States’ faults, she takes out a file and says that the Soviet Union also has “some massive gaps” with his “utopian vision” as she explains that the dossier has information about his country’s methods of repression, ranging from Gulags to mass executions towards anyone thought of by Stalin as dissident. Superman doesn’t initially believe it since he says that his government would’ve informed him about this. However, he does look at the file and is stunned by what he learns as he hands it back to her and flies off.
Later, he arrives back in the Soviet Union as he approaches a Gulag within the mountains and proceeds to force his way in. He tries to use his X-Ray Vision, but he quickly discovers that it’s purposefully lead-lined. As such, he uses the elevator and makes his way down where he discovers his country’s hidden inhumanity.
Upon his arrival, he horrifyingly sees several destitute individuals indefinitely forced into grueling underground work. As Superman also discovers, they’re also forced to live down there in ramshackle huts where they’ll either die of illness or be strung up should they attempt to rebel.
Just then, a young boy is angry at him due to never hearing their cries for help despite his super-hearing. As Superman is horrified by the sight of the kid’s deceased parents, the child rises up as bats proceeds to fly past him. Just then, a weary woman recognizes Supes as he’s surprised to see Svetlana among the imprisoned citizens. As she starts to fall over due to weariness, he uses his super-speed to catch her before he notices her declining health.
Later, Superman liberates her and the rest of the imprisoned citizens from the Gulag as they make their way outside into the glow of the setting sun. Svetlana wearily says that she held on for so many years with the belief that he would finally come along and save her. When Superman asks why she was imprisoned in the first place, she simply exclaims that she knew about him. After assuring him that he shouldn’t blame himself for never knowing about this inhumane act, she goes on to tell him that he has the strength to be the people’s hope and savior. Right before she can explain how he can use his powers however, she succumbs to her illness and passes on as he tearfully cradles her lifeless body.
Later that night, Superman confronts Stalin in his office and demands to know why he would allow millions of their own people to suffer in this way. Joseph admits that he had hoped to shield him from “the grim realities of governance” before explaining how it’s a necessary evil. He goes on to say that their “vision of a better world” can only be carried out by eliminating the individuals who would oppose their ideals. Superman exclaims that they’re still human beings, to which Stalin calls him “a blind kitten” and that everything he’s done has been for the country’s greater good. Superman then asks him whether this was for the welfare of the State or for him, to which Joseph says they’re both the same thing. Superman then says that they have to separate their communist ideals from the cruel imprisonment that he just witnessed. While Stalin does permit him to carry out his attempt, he warns him that it’ll only happen if “certain people” are taken out. Just then, Superman agrees as he uses his Heat Vision to incinerate the Soviet Premier from existence. Afterwards, Petrovich and a few officials burst in. After seeing the end result, they immediately bow to him and ask for his first order. As such, the scene ends with Superman exclaiming that he’ll “save the world”.
Sometime later over in Metropolis, Lois and Lex chat for a bit after having slept together. Just then, she gets a call from Perry White who informs her about a recent event and tells her to get down to the Daily Planet. Afterwards, she tells Lex that Stalin has died and that things have gotten chaotic over in Moscow, with the revelation that he was the one who gave Lois the file for Superman to look over.
Later, Lex arrives at his company where he’s met upon by Special Agent Jimmy Olsen (voiced by Phil Morris) who’s been assigned to look over his governmental projects. After James expresses his amazement over Luthor’s creation of this vast technology ahead of when humanity would eventually reach said level, Lex reveals that he had the Zenit satellite brought back to his building. Not only that, but a fellow scientist is collecting Superman’s residual DNA remains from his finger imprints in order for Luthor to create and present the President with “a Superman of his very own”.
We then shift over to a newscast where George Taylor comments on America coming close to winning the Korean War. However, Superman easily decimates the opposing U.S. military and ultimately unites Korea under his Communist rule. Afterwards, he then addresses the Press as he regrets the numerous lives that were lost in order to bring “peace and prosperity for all Korean citizens”, promising to give them freedom and the opportunity to live better lives. Not only that, but he also offers this to the whole world.
Back in America, Lex, Lois and Jimmy arrive at the Lohman Air Force Base. Olsen proceeds to congratulate her for becoming the Daily Planet’s new editor-in-chief since Perry White is retiring. From there, she gives Lex his anniversary gift, which turns out to be a pair of Chess pieces with him as the White King and Superman as the Black King.
After they arrive at their destination, Jimmy asks Lois why she’s able to put up with Lex. She explains that it comes down to three factors: 1. He greatly supports her career, 2. He’s “phenomenal” when it comes to bedtime bonking & 3. She truly believes that he’ll “change the world”.
Within a hanger, U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower (voiced by Jim Meskimen) addresses the press about Superman making things a lot tougher for America’s fight in the Cold War. After being introduced onto the stage, Lex informs the reporters that the United States now has a “living weapon” to counteract the growing Communist threat. From there, he present his creation called Superior Man (also voiced by Travis Willingham). As Luthor promises that the new being will help turn the tide in the Cold War, Superior Man demonstrates his abilities by breaking out of his chains & withstanding the military gunfire. With the crowd impressed, Lex begins to take questions. A reporter named Ron Troupe (voiced by Phil LaMarr) asks him why he’s revealing his brand new weapon to the public instead of keeping it secret from the Soviets, to which Luthor explains that he wants Superman to fearfully know what he’s up against.
That night over in the Soviet Union, a ball is being held as Diana a.k.a. Wonder Woman (voiced by Vanessa Marshall) is in attendance as the Themyscrian Ambassador. As she and Superman dance, she says that her mother didn’t attend due to her distrust in Man’s World. She expresses her belief in reaching out and creating alliances upon common ground with various cultures in order to create unified peace. She then tells him that he gives her a hopeful feeling towards said goal, unlike Stalin, due to him embodying the ideals that he declares.
Unbeknownst to them, Lex has sent Superior Man out on his mission to fulfill his patriotic duty.
Later, they make their way out to the balcony as Superman says that she’s the first person he’s ever met with vast abilities like him. With great admiration of her, he leans in for a kiss. However, she stops his advances due to her having “come from an island of all women”. He then admits that while he did think that carnal pleasure was expected from him, he agrees that it would only distract him from his ultimate goal. While Diana says that “a little diversion” isn’t necessarily a bad thing when it’s “with the right partner”, he says that he’s actually looking for a friend. As such, she gladly offers her friendship and assistance towards his cause.
Sometime later, Wonder Woman is being escorted to her limousine as she asks Superman about America’s duplicate figure. He says that he’s not worried at all, since he was informed by his intelligence that Superior Man is flawed and that he’s only a piece of propaganda meant to create uneasiness in his people. Diana comments about the fear & terror between both sides and thus offers to serve as a peaceful bridge between the two nations. However, Superman says that she’s misjudging “the Americans’ desire for peace” as she takes her leave.
As he begins to head back inside, Superior Man slams down and demands him to come forth. Superman changes into his superhero suit and confronts him, saying that he once protected Metropolis from harm despite their “countries’ differences”, yet chastises him for barging his way into the Soviet Union. Superior Man calls himself a liberator before he punches Superman onto Moscow’s streets, where he proceeds to beat him up at the cost of property damage and innocent lives.
Supes oversees the destruction caused by his American doppelganger and flies off in order to spare his people from the dangerous carnage. He manages to get the drop on Superior Man as he decks his foe towards the mountains where they proceed to continue their fight, despite Superman trying to convince him that he’s “a victim of the capitalist machine”. Fortunately, Supes handily takes his foe on with ease.
Unbeknownst to him, Lex, his fellow scientists, Lois and Jimmy are able to see the brawl through a sub-cutaneous camera embedded within Superior Man. Despite a technician warning him that his creation is already “nearing overload”, Luthor gives the order to transmit more power.
Superior Man receives the powerful upgrade as he bulks up and begins to fight back. However, Superman is able to recover and successfully match his strikes.
Angered that his creation is still struggling, Lex orders for more power. Superior Man continues to bulk up, but his speech begins to deteriorate. Even worse, he’s not able to land a single hit as Superman evades his strikes and easily punches him up into the sky, culminating with a fierce strike down onto a mountain.
With Superior Man writhing in pumped-up pain, Lois attempts to reign her husband in. However, Lex once again orders for more power to be sent into his creation. Superior Man proceeds to bulk up even more, but his speech impediments become even worse as he speaks in Bizarro tones. Not only that, but the overwhelming strain on his body is too much to bear as the transmitting core within Lex Company overloads and shuts down. Superman rushes over and asks him what’s wrong, to which Superior Man says that he’s unsure. Just when he also mentions that he feels strange, his body finally falls apart as he melts away with Superman realizing that Luthor was behind the being’s demise.
Back at the Luthor Company, Lex says that it was highly unlikely that his creation would’ve defeated Superman before inevitably disintegrating. Lois chastises him for intentionally forcing his being “into a state of overload” and demands to know why he did this, to which Luthor says that “it” was merely created to see where Superman’s limits lied, even admitting a personal victory in that he saw some genuine fear from his foe. She still berates him for creating a superpowered lifeform, only to send it to its grim demise. He says that they’re at war and that she had misplaced compassion for his failed being before she angrily storms off.
We then shift ahead to 1961 where Jack Ryder (also voiced by William Salyers) is reporting on the completion of the Berlin Wall. Just then, the site gets rocked by a massive rumble as Superman arrives to tells the workers that they’ve “been deceived by the lies of America” and that this wall was made in order to hide the truth from them a.k.a. slaving away for “the capitalist elite”. From there, he proceeds to dismantle the entire wall with a powerful and precise strike before flying off. As such, the scene ends with Ryder exclaiming that it’s now inevitable until the Soviet Union completely absorbs Europe into its grasp. With Lex hearing about this, he simply simulates the real-life conflict upon his chess board.
Sometime later, the city of Stalingrad (originally known as Tsaritsyn and now known as Volgograd) is being invaded by Brainiac (voiced by Little Enos himself, Paul Williams). A small squadron of Soviet MiGs fire some missiles at it, but are unable to penetrate its force field before getting blasted out of the sky. Superman goes up against it, but is also unable to punch past the tough barrier. During the intense fight, Brainiac proceeds to capture the entire city, shrink it down and bottle it up before heading out. However, Superman catches up and finally manages to wear the force field down with his punches before smashing into the alien ship and defeating his foe.
We then shift ahead to 1966 as visitors to the People’s Museum in Moscow are informed about the Stalingrad incident by their Tour Guide (voiced by Anna Vocino). She then explains that the city has been stuck in miniaturized purgatory for several years with Superman trying to find a way to reverse the process. In addition, he managed to reprogram Brainiac into working for the government, where it’s gone on to help wipe out “poverty, disease and ignorance” throughout the Soviet Union. Not only that, but anyone who tried to oppose the system has had a subservient device implanted on them.
Just then, a sinister voice comes over the loudspeaker and says that they’re merely pets to their superpowered leader. Not only that, but he says that chaos is “the only answer to this world of perfect order”. Afterwards, he says that this system must be blown away and that the museum will be decimated in 10 minutes. Just as the patrons begin to head towards the exits, the whole building suddenly explodes as Batman (voiced by Roger Craig Smith) says that he meant 10 seconds.
From there, he unleashes a coordinated series of explosions as a small squadron of Soviet helicopters fly in to take care of the situation. One particular pilot named Petrovich spots him and begins his pursuit with guns blazing. Batman eludes the opposing bullets before using the smoke to his advantage by throwing Petrovich out and commandeering the helicopter. From there, he blasts one chopper out of the sky before ramming into the last one, with him jumping to safety.
Afterwards, the police manage to spot him with their searchlights as they proceed to shoot at him. Batman seemingly falls off the roof and lands on a car, but the officials wound up getting fooled by a dummy.
Meanwhile, Superman deals with the destruction as he discovers several civilians who were tragically caught in the carnage. Just then, his super-hearing picks up on some footsteps as he notices three figures running away.
Superman easily catches up to Batman’s three accomplices as he scolds them for planting those bombs for their terroristic master. While he initially considers incinerating them with Heat Vision, he ultimately restrains himself due to him believing that they’re downtrodden citizens who’ve been manipulated by Batman into joining his cause. As such, he promises to “fix” them.
Meanwhile, a woman and her baby are trapped in a burning building as a huge piece of the roof is about to crush them. Fortunately, Wonder Woman shows up for a timely save. After she places them into medical hands, Superman arrives as she wonders what kind of person would willingly cause this kind of destruction. He assures her that not all men are like this, to which she exclaims that Batman doesn’t have any superpowers of his own, yet was able to elude the long arms of Soviet law. From there, the scene ends with Superman assuring her that their rogue rebel will eventually pay.
After shifting ahead a year, we cut over to a restricted base in Lincoln County, Nevada as U.S. President John F. Kennedy (also voiced by Jim Meskimen) explains to Captain/Colonel (both are strangely used) Hal Jordan (voiced by Capt. Sean Renard himsef, Sasha Roiz) about a particular craft that the Army discovered six weeks prior. Once he learned about it, he brought Lex in as a consultant. Hal is stunned by the sight of the alien spacecraft as Luthor explains that it’s made of an otherworldly alloy. Despite the ancient nature of the spaceship, he shows Jordan the most remarkable thing lying inside it. Once inside, Hal is shown the corpse of Abin Sur as John and Lex explains that the being’s ring was initially thought to have been a mere trinket, but they’ve discovered that it can potentially harness an ancient power source. Not wanting to wait for the scientists to get permission from higher authorities in order to carefully remove the ring from the creature’s finger, Luthor simply cuts the digit off before saying that it’s going to take several decades for them to retro-engineer it for their own use. Hal then asks why he’s being informed about this, to which Kennedy tells him that the ring will serve as a cornerstone to their newest military branch and that he’ll serve as the inaugural leader.
Over in the Soviet Union, Superman introduces Wonder Woman to his specialized command center where he can make sure that the country continues to run at optimal efficiency. Afterwards, he summons Brainiac and asks for the day’s statistics. Brainiac says that both economic production & birth rates have gone up again, their country’s life expectancy is nearing a full century & growing and suicides have decreased due to the addition of Fluoxetine Hydrochloride (an anti-depression drug) into their water supply. After Brainiac takes his leave, Wonder Woman says that her mother is considering closing down Themyscira’s Embassy Building, mainly since part of Superman’s achievements for his country includes subservient devices implanted onto those who’ve failed to comply with his rule. Superman says that it’s a better alternative to Gulags and executions as he promises that there will come a day when that form of control won’t be needed. However, Diana says that it may never come. Superman then says that unlike the Amazons living peacefully on Paradise Island, humanity must be tamed in order to counter their “dark” and “brutal” nature. When Wonder Woman then asks if that means “human nature or man’s nature”, he then asks her if she would prefer how the American government treats its citizens. Brainiac joins in and says that the United States is suffering from an economic decline, social unrest and millions of starving people. Superman says that he had hoped for JFK to have seen things his way, but to no avail. Brainiac tells him that they should invade America “and compel them to align with the rest of the world”. However, Superman refuses since his “global revolution” has mostly gone through without the need for bloodshed. As such, he’s betting on the United States eventually collapsing before swooping in to help rebuild the country in his Communist image. Diana then says that her mother Hippolyta believes in freedom blossoming from within the populace and not from outside factors. Fortunately for Superman, the scene ends with her informing him that she convinced her mother to hold out since she still believes in him.
Later that night, Superman is having a private dinner with Chinese Ambassador Lee (voiced by Ryoji Kaji himself, Greg Chun). However, he’s deep in thought before getting complimented on their dinner. Lee tries to engage in friendly conversation concerning how long it’s been since the last time they’ve gotten together, but Superman exclaims that he’s being cautious and tense, despite the fact that they’ve known each other for a long time. Shortly after Lee admits that he personally terrifies him, they suddenly hear a distant explosion as Superman discovers the flames are in a familiar bat shape. Afterwards, his super-hearing picks up Diana’s cry for help.
Over at a particularly abandoned Gulag, not only has Batman captured Wonder Woman, but he has her bound to her own Lasso of Truth. Superman quickly arrives and demands for his elusive foe to explain how he captured her. Diana explains that her lasso gets its energy from her and that Batman has bound her both physically & psychically. After exclaiming that she’s been reduced to following his order and that she’ll take her own life if he’s harmed in any way, Batman explains that he’s ready to get his vengeance upon his superpowered foe. Not only that, but he says that Superman underestimates his human mind. Supes uses his X-Ray Vision and doesn’t see anything impressive about his brain before getting redirected to Batman’s chest where he discovers a bomb implanted inside him.
However, Superman quickly learns that it’s not how his elusive foe intends on taking him down as Batman uses a trigger and activates dozens of red solar lamps. Supes is initially amused, but it quickly turns to dread once Batman punches him in the face and discovers that it actually hurt him. He tells Supes that he acquired these lamps from “a mutual friend of ours from America who specializes in the impossible”.
From there, Batman begins his one-sided beatdown as he also explains that the solar lamps simulate Krypton’s own red sun. With Superman’s powers getting drained, he proceeds to get roughed up while Wonder Woman can only helplessly watch.
After Batman gives him a fierce smackdown, Superman wearily says that he gave his people freedom by taking out the Gulags. However, Batman says that he’s no different than Stalin, despite their divergent approaches towards their country. In the end, Batman sees them both as “narcissistic, power-hungry egomaniacs” who only want to reshape the world in their own image. During this, he grabs Superman by his hair and drags him over to a pit. After opening it up, Supes is thrown into it as Batman tells him that he’ll remain there for the rest of his life while he and his loyal followers usurp the Soviet government.
After closing the pit up, he approaches Wonder Woman who calls him a monster. Angered with the notion that all men are deviously alike, she does the impossible and forcefully frees herself from her lasso. This also sends out a shockwave that flings Batman over to a pile of boxes. Despite the impressive feat however, it leaves her wounded and somewhat rapidly-aged. Even in her condition, she manages to reach the generator that powers the sun lamps. By the time that Batman recovers, it’s too late as she rips the mechanism from its foundation and destroys it.
With the solar lamps out, Superman regains his powers and frees himself from the pit before confronting his elusive foe. He then says that his punishment will be “a few hours of brain surgery” and subservient work within a Moscow-based laundry. However, Batman refuses to accept that kind of defeat and simply activates the bomb in his chest, blowing himself up.
Afterwards, Superman goes to check on Wonder Woman. However, she says that he’s no longer her friend, especially since this fight showed her a grim reminder of what men can potentially do to their own kind and what would become of women who foolishly trust them. As such, she tells him that her Lasso of Truth is just like their bond: broken. From there, she solemnly flies off.
We then transition into 1983 as a news broadcast has George Taylor reporting about Lex Luthor and how he helped America rebound from “years of unrest, insurrection and political assassinations” by becoming the President. With Jimmy Olsen as his Vice President and Lois as his Press Secretary, he brought the United States back from the brink. While America was regaining economic traction, it has sent out “ripples of unrest” across the Soviet Union where its citizens are starting to protest against their ruler.
After watching the newscast, Superman compliments Luthor as “a master of propaganda”. However, Brainiac informs him that the United States’ rebound is greatly impacting the U.S.S.R. on a negative level, even predicting that their Warsaw Pact nations will reach critical levels of discontent within three years. He then tells Superman that Lex has always been a constant problem for him, yet he’s never taken “direct action” against him due to thinking that America would ultimately destroy itself. As such, Brainiac says that their only recourse at this point would be a full-on invasion. That way, they could kidnap Luthor and condition him into their beliefs. However, Superman refuses since he wants to conquer his objectives “by winning the argument”. Brainiac says that if they keep to their current course, then Lex will continue his strong stranglehold in this fight. As such, an invasion is the only way to effectively defeat their opposing “cancer cell”, despite an estimated 6.5 million innocent lives lost. Superman still decides to forgo this action since he says it’s a choice that he won’t make. Just then, Brainiac’s radar picks up a small group of approaching bogies that aren’t the size of either jets or missiles.
We then shift over to the Atlantic Ocean as Hal Jordan leads America’s newly-formed Green Lantern Corps. Just then, Hal learns from a fellow fighter named John Stewart (also voiced by Phil LaMarr) that an unidentified flying object is rapidly approaching them. As such, Jordan tells his teammates to prep themselves for their inbound target.
Suddenly, Superman flies in and rams into several Green Lanterns at supersonic speeds, taking them out of the fight. Hal and his men begin to fight back while also protecting themselves from the devastating blows. They then use their rings to form missile constructs and send them after Superman. However, he manages to withstand the blast and strikes back with his Heat Vision, forcing the Green Lanterns to defend themselves.
However, one particular corpsman named Guy Gardner (also voiced by Travis Willingham) starts to get overwhelmed by their foe’s raw power. In the end, the Heat Vision becomes too much for his shield construct to handle and he gets blasted out of the sky. Hal retaliates by forming a constrictive mask around Superman’s head while the rest of the Green Lanterns proceed to trap him within several cubes. Even though Superman is able to destroy the constrictive mask, he’s unable to break out as the Green Lantern Corps proceed to shrink the cubes and have him at their mercy.
Suddenly, the fight gets interrupted by a powerful & blinding light caused by the single clash of some familiar bracelets as Wonder Woman arrives in neutral colors and begs for both Superman & the Green Lantern Corps to stop fighting each other before the planet gets embroiled within their “insane war”. She goes on to say that she’s willing to talk with President Luthor in order to bring about a peaceful end to the Cold War, but Superman thinks that Lex will somehow manipulate her into siding against him and that he can’t stop now since he has “no choice”. Diana says that she no longer sees the man that she once admired before Superman attempts to punch her. Fortunately, she grabs his fist and knows that this attempted strike was his choice. As such, she announces that Themyscira will forever close itself off to Man’s World before taking her permanent leave.
Afterwards, Hal makes a ‘witty’ comment to him (“Women, right?”). However, this enrages Superman as he punches Jordan into the water. John attempts to rally the Green Lantern Corps, but Supes is easily able to overpower them as he manages to ram, smack and hit every last Green Lantern into the ocean. From there, he contacts Brainiac and says that they’re long overdue to pay Luthor a visit.
As such, they proceed to fly across the Atlantic Ocean and make their way towards Washington, D.C. before arriving at the White House. Brainiac says that there aren’t any soldiers or Secret Service agents present here to oppose them. Superman suspects that Lex has some secret plan in store as he proceeds to call out to him.
He then sees someone emerging from the White House, which turns out to be Lois. Not only that, but she has the bottled city of Stalingrad. Superman asks how she acquired it, to which she simply explains that it was due to her husband planning well in advance. She then compares Stalingrad’s imprisoned citizens to Superman having a system that keeps his people under strict watch. He says that he’s spent the last few decades attempting to bring Stalingrad back up to regular size, but he and Brainiac ultimately tried several times in vein. However, Brainiac admits that he always had the technological means to restore the city and that it represents what his master’s objectives have ultimately accomplished with Lois agreeing as she calls Superman “a dictator who’s spent his entire life trying to put the whole world in a bottle”. Ashamed for what his oversight within Soviet rule has led to, he says that he only wanted to prevent his people from suffering. With his humble response, Lois hands Stalingrad over to him.
Superman then tells Brainiac that they’re heading home. However, Brainiac says that it’s not a wise move since America would gain an ever greater edge and the Soviet Union would descend into further chaos. Supes doesn’t mind as he refers back to when Stalin called him “a blind kitten”, since he got so wrapped up within his “beliefs” and “ideals” that he couldn’t see what he actually needed to do in the real world. He finally agrees that humanity must be allowed to make their own mistakes in order to create their own version of a “perfect world”. Unfortunately, Brainiac is unwilling to comply as he swiftly obliterates Stalingrad with a single laser beam.
As they begin their fight, Superman realizes that Brainiac was never fully-reprogrammed, to which the techno-fiend agrees and that once he was placed within Moscow, he stealthy expanded his control over the world within the growing guise of the Soviet Union. Superman tries to get inside, but he smacks into the force field with enough force that it sends out a shockwave and causes Lois to fall over.
The fierce impact also sends Superman hurtling towards the White House where he slams into a pillar with enough force to have it fall towards Lois. Fortunately, she gets a timely save from Lex who emerges in a specialized warsuit. As Superman recovers and reengages Brainiac, Luthor tells his wife to get inside the bunker while he helps his longtime rival defeat their true enemy.
After withstanding another powerful beam which came dangerously close to harming the White House, Superman is approached by Lex and is told that they’ve got to break past the force field. However, Brainiac says that his technological barrier has only gotten stronger since the Stalingrad incident and that he purposefully allowed Supes to get inside back then in order for his grand plan to be set in motion.
While Superman draws the laser blasts away, Luthor prepares to attach some devices that would allow them to break past the force field. Lex is initially beset upon by the spaceship’s retractable cables, but Supes is easily able to free him.
From there, Luthor begins to attach the phasing devices onto the spaceship. By the time he places two of them onto the craft, the retractable cables manage to ensnare him. Fortunately, he activates the last device in time before he’s flung down towards the ground, thus creating a small passageway for Superman to use.
As such, he fires his Heat Vision into the opening which causes some significant damage to Brainiac’s spaceship before he makes his way inside. Superman manages to reach the central chamber, only to discover that Brainiac is protected by yet another force field. Supes berates his technological foe for manipulating him towards his intended goal before getting restrained by some retractable cables, to which Brainiac says that his methods were more efficient by comparison. Superman uses his Heat Vision to melt through the force field and disable it before breaking free from his restraints. From there, he punches Brainiac in the chest where he proceeds to rip out the fiend’s head and spine. Just as Lex makes it onto the spacecraft, Superman delivers the finishing blow by slamming his foot down upon Brainiac’s head and shattering it to pieces.
Despite their combined efforts in taking down an opposing figure, Luthor asks Supes if he’ll be leaving Earth due to the sociological stress he’s inflicted upon the world. Superman says that he intends on burying the spaceship upon the Moon before he decides whether or not he’ll be able to stay put on the planet. Suddenly, Brainiac’s spacecraft activates a self-destruct sequence due to its master being destroyed. Lex says that the spaceship has six black holes that powers its engines and that they’re primed to detonate, taking out every single lifeform within a 15 million mile radius. With no way to deactivate it, Superman takes it upon himself to deal with this. As such, Luthor gets out as he’s met upon by Lois and Jimmy. Meanwhile, Superman flies out and pushes the spacecraft towards outer space.
After clearing Earth’s atmosphere, he proceeds to push Brainiac’s spaceship towards the furthest reaches of outer space at lightspeed. During this, he thinks back to Svetlana’s final words and realizes that this is the moment where he must use his powers to save the people. From there, he closes his eyes and takes the spacecraft out into the dark void where it ultimately blows up.
Back at the White House, Lex reflects upon the recent struggle and Superman’s sacrifice to prevent Brainiac’s ultimate destruction, even wondering if “this had all been worked out to the tenth decimal point” going back as far as the past 25 years. From there, he finishes his long-time chess game and positions his White King for a winning checkmate.
Sometime later, a ceremony is being held at the U.S. Capitol building as Luthor is officially resigning from his Presidency. During his speech to the public, he says that Superman’s death will ultimately lead to the Soviet Union’s collapse. Fortunately, America is more than willing to give supportive aid towards Russia in order to help its citizens get back on their feet with a fresh start. In time, he hopes that both nations will come together to form “a truly global United States” in an imperfect world that shows humanity’s finest. During the speech, Lois looks out into the crowd and briefly spots Superman alive-&-well within civilian clothes before he suddenly disappears.
From there, Lex caps off his resignation by introducing his former Vice President Jimmy Olsen as America’s newest President. Afterwards, he meets up with Lois who asks him what he’s going to do with his post-presidency. He ultimately says that he would love to spend the rest of his life alongside her on a desert island as they proceed to share a kiss. And so, the film ends with Superman taking one last glimpse at them before taking his leave.
Now that this Cold War clash has concluded, let’s make our way into my character analysis. First up, we have the superpowered Premier himself: Superman. In the beginning, he starts off as a wide-eyed optimist who rightfully uses his powers for the betterment of his country. With the proper push from Lex however, Lois has him open his eyes to the Soviet Union’s hidden evils. After fatally ousting Stalin from his Premiership, he begins his decades-long quest to help the U.S.S.R. prosper without the lethal necessities that came before. While he does make significant progress and his country reaches particular heights, there is a oversight to his long-term vision. Following his encounter with Brainiac, the multitudes of advancements that the Soviet Union reaches comes with a different kind of punishment for those who refuse to go along with the system. Instead of the personal freedom on where they can live or even their life getting taken away, the would-be insurgents end up losing their own willpower. While initially beginning his tenure with the intent purpose of putting an end to human suffering, it only led to the rise of opposition that tested his core values. He does walk an ever-shaking tightrope where he’s trying to do what he believes is the right thing, since he’s able to restrain himself from the most far-reaching of governmental actions like invading America just for the sake of usurping control. However, Brainiac’s influences has him caught up within his own goals and his struggle to maintain control over his country to the point where he unintentionally isolates himself from those who would either be a voice of reason for him or those he’s trying to protect. This oversight nearly pushes him into an international brawl against Luthor and the American military before Lois gives him a stark realization on how he became misguided over the years, especially when Brainiac turns on him. This definitely plays into the core concept of what a noble and good-natured Superman as a whole (regardless of his universe) should be: Help humanity get back on its feet whenever they fall, but don’t act as the final authority on how Earth’s populace should act. Sure, this Superman is rougher than the traditional version, since he did slay Stalin out of emotional anger and he got involved in critical conflicts against America (Korean War and destroying the Berlin Wall) in order to spread his Communist ideals. However, all of those were before Brainiac ever got involved in this story. By that time that came along, it mainly became a fight for his sense of control upon what he believed in, which became somewhat tainted due to the hidden technological terror helping him from within. In the end though, this does present a Superman who’s flawed with his pursuit of creating his idea of a perfect world, yet still cares for humanity. For his portrayal on this version of the Man of Steel, Jason Isaacs handles the role fairly well. The former Lucius Malfoy handles his delivery of a Russian accent with some nice emotional range in order to make his first staring role within the greater DCUAOM feel solid throughout. All-in-all, he was a neat choice for an alternate take of an iconic hero.
Next up, we have America’s unlikely hero in Lex Luthor. Unlike his source material counterpart where he starts out at S.T.A.R. Labs, he begins his country’s fight against Superman within the confines of his own scientific company. While Supes’ vision of a better world becomes misguided due to a number of factors that occurs while he’s on top, Lex remains stable throughout due to two reasons: 1. He’s in service to the American government’s fight in the Cold War throughout the majority of the movie before he becomes President & 2. He has Lois by his side to prevent him from getting too carried away. As such, we have a Luthor who’s still an intellectual being and is either able to create or has access to incredible feats of technology in order to use it for the betterment of others instead of solely himself. Sure, he’s pretty confident just like his traditional comic self, but his appearances here are limited enough and combined with his unionship to Lois that he’s able to effectively handle his leadership when it comes time for him to help the United States begin its rebound. Because he doesn’t become a leader in his own right until the third act, he’s had plenty of time to be around key figures to keep him grounded during his work, to the point where he makes them vital members of his cabinet. Unlike his regular universe self, he’s the perfect blend of a brilliant mind and a humble husband who can intellectually fight the good fight without his ego getting unrestrained by jealous obsession & the lack of having a significant other. Essentially, this is a version of Lex that the main-universe Superman would have been far more willing to deal with in Metropolis, providing that their partnership never crumbled due to any particular factor. Diedrich Bader is having a blast with his role, giving Luthor a suave certainty that allows him to balance his brilliance and arrogance in a likable way. With the breathing room that he’s been given for this movie, he arguably has the best performance out of the entire cast, never mind that it’s a supporting job. In the end, he nails his role with expert ease.
Now, we’ve reached our leading lady herself: Lois Lane. There’s not too much to say about her, aside from the fact that she helps ground our two male leads. Because of her relationship connections with Lex, she gladly supports her husband during his scientific endeavors. They do share a couple scenes together and are mainly caring towards each other throughout the film, even if his work tends to get in their way. While she casually understands his initial forgetfulness on getting her an anniversary gift, she rightfully calls him out when Superior Man becomes completely unstable in battle and falls apart. While Lex just saw his creation as a disposable person and only as a means for him to gain some intellectual insight on Superman, Lois calls him out since it was still a living being that he sent out to fall in an impossible battle. This allows her to have one of two standouts moments, especially when they’re linked to her caring about life, no matter what the circumstances are. From there, her other time to shine comes with Superman himself. While she does set things in motion for him to become the Soviet Union’s ruler with a little help from her husband, she gets her biggest moment when she presents the bottled city of Stalingrad as both a symbolism and as a misguided failure of Supes’ leadership after several decades. In that moment, the spirit of the main universe Lois shines through since she essentially tells Superman that he’s gone too far in the wrong direction, helps him realize the error of his ways and sets him on the heroic path. In the end, she doesn’t get to stand out too much aside from her time with either Lex or Superman, yet makes herself essential in helping out two key figures within the grand scope of this world and placing both of them onto humble paths. While a few more scenes of her in the Daily Planet would have helped in giving her a bit more to do, especially since she does become Editor-In-Chief while America is economically faltering, her involvement within the story feels satisfying enough with so much going on in the narrative. Amy Acker gets the most out of her role and captures the self-confident, emotionally-charged and caring nature with what she has to work with. Despite only having a handful of scenes, she helps Lois leave a good impact upon the narrative.
As we stay on the heroic path, let’s get to Wonder Woman herself. Like Superman initially was, she also starts off optimistic about making a good impact upon the world. More than likely, that’s also the image of Superman that she sees in him when they first met at the gala, especially since this noble image is what convinces her into joining his cause. However, her jadedness towards Earth as a whole begins with Batman’s nihilistic action against Superman’s established order, as well as his elusive nature. Later, she gets to see what her longtime comrade has done to maintain a prosperous culture within the Soviet Union. She rightfully calls him out on how he’s taken away the free will of anyone who’s attempted to rebel, despite his argument that it’s not the same kind of inhumanity that the Gulags and public executions were. However, she also questions whether it’s out of the necessity to curb social unrest or it’s actually out of man’s historically domineering nature that he’s beginning to display. Despite the rise of his questionable actions, she’s still willing to try it his way. However, this all comes to the frenetic forefront when she gets captured by Batman. Even though she manages to help Superman out of his harrowing situation, he doesn’t take the high road with a simple arrest and instead intends on taking his foe’s free will away. This act of toxic control over all he sees combined with the side-effect that she suffered from breaking free from the Lasso of Truth’s bind is enough for her to sever their partnership. Later on when Superman fights Hal and America’s Green Lantern Corps, she’s still willing to give him one last chance and take a peaceful end to this growing conflict. However, Supes is stuck in his ways, fully-embroiled within his side of the current conflict and unwilling to talk with Luthor. As such, this opportunity for change gets toasted and Diana decides to make the permanent call of hiding Paradise Island from the rest of humanity forever. Wonder Woman does try to fill the void that he has due to him not having his own equivalent of Lois Lane, especially since this universe’s version is married to Lex. However, Diana isn’t present enough to make as much of an impact in that aspect, especially since she has super powers of her own and isn’t able to deliver that necessary grounding in order to keep him from going too far with his rule. In turn, her inspirational figure has gone sour and it left her with a false assumption that all men are the same heartless brutes who battle it out for their own survival, while any woman who attempts to live around them will end up scorned in some way like she was. As such, she gives up the code of the hero. For her efforts in portraying this version of the character (and third time overall in the grand scope of the DCUAOM), Vanessa Marshall gives a confident performance and presents a beacon of hope that ultimately becomes bitter with our title character and humanity in general. All-in-all, she expertly presents herself for this alternate Amazon.
As we delve into the dark side of the conflict, let’s get into this devious take on Batman. The source of his deep-seated anger towards Superman is changed from the source material since originally, his parents were killed by Pyotr Roslov because they opposed Supes and distributed “Anti-Superman leaflets”. Not to mention, Pyotr shot him in the shoulder as well. With all of that happening when he was child (Nine years old in the source material), it’s at least something we see in the comic. Compared to the film, his parents were probably overly-worked within the Gulag and either starved to death or succumbed to severe illness. Either one could fly as implications since the boy blames Superman for not knowing about the injustice that fell upon him. Either way, he grows up and dons his identity in order to challenge the established order of government that Supes has built for the Soviet Union. How he prepares for his final stand-off is slightly different than in the source material and is even linked with Pyotr himself. It’s through him that Lex wants to discreetly supply Batman with the red solar lamps for his ultimate takedown. Incidentally, that meeting brings up its own pros and cons. While that detail is hinted at during his initially one-sided beatdown of Superman in the comic, the movie has him conversing and planning with Luthor off-screen in between his two major appearances. In a positive trade-off for the film, the exclusion of Pyotr makes for tighter pacing and fewer side characters to worry about since the source material sees Batman informing him that it was Roslov who betrayed him before taking himself out of the picture and leaving Supes to slap an obedience device to his former comrade’s head. Anyway, his character progression here mainly plays out the same way as in the comic, caught up in bloody vengeance and grim rebellion. Like our main character (though unlike him as well), Batman also looked to create some sweeping change to the U.S.S.R. by dismantling the very government that he blames for the loss of his parents. Unlike the traditional Dark Knight who took his iconic & tragic moment and used it to mold himself into an outstanding figure that both the public & officials look at with awe-inspiring respect, this version is an extremist who’s in favor of the oppressed people and only wishes to tear down the old order. To him, Superman has been fully-integrated into said system and he represents everything that Batman despises about how the Soviet Union is being run. Roger Craig Smith effectively brings a certain vocal terror that his part requires as he brings his experience with the part that he harnessed from the Batman Unlimited movies (& even “Batman Ninja”) and twists it into a legitimate threat with a very convincing Russian accent that enhances his intimidating presence. Despite only having two scenes to shine it, he absolutely makes the most of it to help this minor antagonist tactical with his tyranny. In the end, he stands out and leaves a nice impact on the grand narrative.
Finally, let’s get into the technological terror of this tale: Brainiac. Despite allowing himself to get captured in his first appearance, it’s likely possible that he considered this long con on Earth within his mechanical mind during his capture of Stalingrad. Through Superman, he makes his world domination plot feel more subtle since he’s slowly integrating the planet within a technological Communistic paradise over the course of several decades and it draws less attention to himself as opposed to the traditional invasion that attempts to conquer the planet in one fell swoop. He does help create more suitable living conditions for the Soviet Union’s citizens, but also the subservient devices that helped in bringing Superman’s desperate need for control to the surface. Brainiac even tests his master’s desire for a perfect world built in his image when he suggests for them to invade the United States. When America was economically struggling in comparison, this notion makes sense since it would have been a swift action that would’ve gone unopposed. However, Superman’s better morals manage to shine through on several occasions in order to unintentionally damper his scheme. He’s in the background for a good portion of the movie and the reveal of his overall plan may feel a bit plain and may come out-of-nowhere without a subtle clue or two, but he still brings a decent presence in his initial scene and during the climax. Unlike Superman, he isn’t held back by his emotions towards humanity, especially due to his cold & unfeeling nature that traditionally comes with the character. As such, Brainiac appropriately approaches his master’s mission just the sake of progress, regardless of the ethical violations that would pop up. In the end, he serves as a cautionary tale about humanity’s progression with not just machinery, but in any form of leadership position where one becomes stuck within particular ways that become outdated or not even having a calm way to remind one’s self about what they’re fighting for in the first place. Paul Williams (who’s also a songwriter and co-wrote “Rainbow Connection” among his many accomplishments) handles the monotone and robotic delivery of his character with enough inflections to help him shine in a particular way. While Brainiac isn’t the biggest of standout villains within the grand scope of the DCUAOM, Williams’ performance lets him be noteworthy on a thematic level and thus, he turns in a neat performance.
The story has Superman attempting to use the powers in both himself & his governmental position to make his country (and by extension, the world) a better place, especially one without suffering. It’s a noble endeavor, but it’s something that began on foreshadow and murder. Before getting incinerated by Supes’ Heat Vision, Stalin warns him how it’s necessary to remove anyone who attempts to oppose his ultimate endgoal. Sure, he does start off strong by reuniting Korea under his Communistic rule and even gaining a superpowered ally in Wonder Woman, but the inclusion of Brainiac and Batman introduces an internal struggle and a weariness that Superman has trouble dealing with, not to mention an unwillingness to compromise or even tweak his outlook. Right from the start, his rule over the Soviet Union is problematic due to removing the free will of any insurgent with a subservient disc. Then, Batman emerges as the defiant rebel who upsets the established order and successfully opposes him for a while. Finally, there’s the slow loss of one’s self that he experiences due to Brainiac’s implementation within the building process, where he shuns Diana and is willing to finally usurp Luthor’s Presidental regime before Lois finally forces him to access what he’s done within his position of power. Given all of that, the narrative handles the differences in which both Superman and Lex handle their governmental leadership roles. Supes usurped control from Joseph and has been in power for nearly four decades, trying to get his ultimate goal of a utopian society made. However, the aforementioned factors ultimately steered him away from what he wanted to bring to the world, especially with the amount of time that’s passed. On the other hand, Luthor mostly operated his leadership skills within his own company and was thus able to mold his mental prowess and run his organization without the weight of an entire country upon his back. That way, he’s able to take all of that experience and make his tenure in the oval office a positive one for both himself and America. As such, it’s fitting that the film ends with Lex handing over the Presidential title to Jimmy. Since he fought the main fight of his live and lived, he has nothing else to prove to either himself or Lois. Also, he’s able to avoid the weariness that comes with being in power for far too long. As effectively as the movie’s narrative handles the translation of its source material, there’s some elements that ultimately didn’t make the jump from the comic panels to the small screen. For example, there’s a minor character within the early goings of this tale named Petrovich. He’s essentially a largely-scaled back and less-important version of the story’s equivalent of Pete Ross named Pyotr Iosif Roslov, an illegitimate son of Stalin who’s also the head of the People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs (or the N.K.V.D.). He had intentions to succeed Joseph some day and run the country, but was ultimately denied when Superman entered the picture. As I mentioned when I talked about this film’s version of Batman, Pyotr was ultimately responsible for creating the U.S.S.R.’s signature anarchist when he executed the boy’s parents right in front of him due to them opposing the governmental system by handing out Anti-Superman leaflets. His inner fury towards his father leads to the first of a couple alternate history moments. While the movie saw Superman scorch Stalin with his Heat Vision, Roslov took his father out through Acute Cyanide Poisoning. In real life, Joseph passed away in 1953 due to Heart Failure via a Cerebral Hemorrhage. Getting back on track, several years go by before Pyotr is running the Committee for State Security (a.k.a. the K.G.B.). Eventually, Batman abducts him for a private meeting as Roslov informs him that Lex and his C.I.A. allies are willing to help him take Superman out, especially since they studied his spaceship and discovered a key weakness. Following their brawl, Batman informs Superman that Pyotr was the one who set this up before taking himself out. As such, Roslov is dealt with via the implementation of a servitude device. Another character with an altered role is our Lana Lang equivalent named Svetlana, who was originally named Lana Lazarenko in the source material. The film does show her and the young boy version of Superman within a vast field, compared to the comic where it’s briefly mentioned during Stalin’s funeral. From there, Superman meets up with her as she reveals her two children named Jordan & Mehri to him and that they traveled from St. Petersburg to attend the grim ceremony. However, they’re now among a large group of people who’ve been deprived of food for a while. For the comic version, this is what motivates him to take charge of the Soviet Union. By comparison, the film has a more emotional push for him to confront Joseph and start running the office with her winding up in a Gulag and ultimately losing her life due to the poor health conditions within. From there, she resonates within the tale in different ways. In the source material, she becomes an official tour guide for the Superman museum, while the movie sets up the climactic payoff with her telling him to use his powers in order to protect humanity. One thing that I noticed was that when Lana Lazarenko was brought over into the film, she was renamed Svetlana which was also the name of Stalin’s youngest child who became a literature teacher and a Russian/English translator before famously defecting for the United States. She would eventually return to the U.S.S.R. and regain her Soviet citizenship, but would ultimately return to America in the end. All-in-all, it’s an interesting real-world connection. Now, let’s delve into certain details that were changed for Lex Luthor. For the most part, his translation from page-to-screen is very precise. However, some things were changed for the adaptation. As I mentioned in his section, Luthor begins the tale as a prominent scientist for S.T.A.R. Labs who’s helping the U.S. Government find a way to combat Superman with Jimmy Olsen watching over him. While dropping a Soviet satellite towards Metropolis was always in the cards for his initial plan, its name was altered. In the comic, it’s Sputnik 2 while the film simply called it a Zenit satellite. Either way, Lex’s team recovers the satellite in order to retrieve Supes’ DNA and create their own clone to send into battle. In terms of Luthor’s creation, the source material simply calls him Superman 2 whose appearance looks imperfect and rough from the outset. The superpowered fight starts out over the Atlantic Ocean before Superman 2 gets hit and accidentally unleashes his telescopic x-ray vision upon a nearby American submarine, causing one of the crewmen to accidentally launch a missile towards Britain. The fight then resumes and makes its way to London before Superman 2 decides to sacrifice itself to save the people. The movie gets a big win with its handling of Superior Man, thanks to its initially more-stable look for its introduction to the public, not to mention having a cocky American attitude to start off. I’m sure that the initial skirmish within Moscow is the movie’s parallel to when Superman gets punched into several buildings in London and causing some collateral damage there. Afterwards, they get to have a proper throwdown out in the mountain range in order to give the audience a superpowered spectacle. Not to mention, Superior Man’s ultimate decline into a Bizarro state & demise via the opposing hits and his master overly bulking him up from afar shows Superman the loss of one’s self that he’ll be slipping towards throughout the narrative. Getting back to Lex, Superman 2’s destruction leads him to execute his fellow labmates and leaves S.T.A.R. Labs before starting his own company in order to take Superman down. However, this also forces him to put his relationship with Lois aside so that he can focus on his fight. As the original story shifts over to the 1970s, Luthor had planned a scheme with Brainiac in order to shrink down Moscow, but the mechanical fiend ends up taking Stalingrad instead. This is another win for the film, since Lex gets to stay in a far-more positive light with both his superiors as well as his wife. Not to mention, Brainiac gets to be more of his own evil entity. Either way, Luthor still secretly supplies Batman with red solar lights for his upcoming fight against Superman in both versions. One interesting detail that the source material has concerning about this is that during his conversation with Lois, Lex says that this detail ultimately came to him, his company and Olsen via Kremlin Sympathizers. Moving on, there’s the discovery of Abin Sur. Starting off, the details on how it was discovered by American officials was changed for the movie. In the source material, Luthor says that it crash-landed over in Roswell back in 1947. Hoover (most likely J. Edgar) would cover up the incident by hiding the alien body and the spacecraft within a desolate air base before wiping the location off the map. Also, Luthor and Kennedy are visiting the location with their respective wives Lois & Marilyn Monroe (whom Johnny married after divorcing Jacqueline). There’s more alternate history here, since JFK replaced Richard Nixon in office due to him getting assassinated within this world. In actuality, Kennedy was infamously gunned down in 1963, with Vice President Lyndon Johnson taking his spot. Nixon wouldn’t get elected into office until 1969. Finally, Marilyn (who famously sang “Happy birthday, Mr. President” to JFK in addition to her iconic acting career) tragically died in 1962. Getting back on track, Lex learns about the alien corpse, the green ring and the power battery, thus setting the stage for the formation of America’s Green Lantern Corps. Just like the movie, it doesn’t get launched until after he becomes President. Last up for Luthor, there’s a difference in how he takes on Brainiac. While the movie is more simple with it’s approach by teaming up with Superman in front of the White House, the comic takes a more complex approach. Lex gets inside the Siberian Winter Palace (a.k.a. the Fortress of Solitude of this world) and challenges Supes to an intellectual battle. However, Brainiac wraps its sentient cables around him and drags him inside his spaceship in order to convert him into a Superman Robot. Just as Supes makes it to the White House, Lois has him use his X-Ray Vision to read a note that she’s keeping in her pocket, which reads “Why don’t you just put the whole world in a bottle, Superman?”. This is what essentially grounds him, as opposed to the film where Lois calmly calls him out on how he’s running his country. Not to mention, there’s no superpowered squad run by the U.S. Government and consisting of regular Superman villains like the comic does. Shortly after Brainiac rebels, Luthor comes back into play by taking out the being’s power from within its central core, allowing Supes to fly in and destroy his former robotic ally. After Superman flies Brainiac’s spaceship out into space and supposedly dies within its self-destruction, the events of the comic’s ending plays out much differently than the film. Lex was re-elected as U.S. President, the Soviet Union collapsed under the might of the Batmen and Luthor ultimately swoops in to help the country recover & even get absorbed into a “Global United States”. From there, he sets up his headquarters within the Siberian Winter Palace, where he combined his own ideas alongside “notes from the archives”. With this combination of philosophies, he goes on to wipe out severe illnesses in order to create long-lasting lifespans for humanity, form “a one-world government composed of artists, writers, philosophers & scientists” and even colonize the entire solar system before he finally passed away. Over the next several millenniums, his descendants would go on to make several more marks for mankind. However, Earth’s yellow sun would become red as the planet becomes as traditionally doomed like Krypton. Lex’s last descendant named Jor-L and his wife Lara manage to send their son Kal-L to safety within a rocketship. However, this spaceship has time-travel capabilities as the whole story comes full circle and the young boy winds up within 1938 Urkraine and is found by a farm-bound couple. That massive ending was scrapped for the movie version in order to present Luthor with a more noble conclusion and give a calm resolution for the audience to feel good upon. Other characters have their own notable differences. With Wonder Woman, her mother Hippolyta gets to be present in a few scenes, Themyscira gets some panel time as well, Diana criticizes JFK’s handling of the U.S. government, her super-hearing picking up Superman telling her how to turn the tide against Batman, her key meeting with Lois on an upcoming strike against Superman and even fighting him alongside her Amazons after the Green Lanterns fall. With Batman, there’s the aforementioned different detail with his childhood origin, his secret meeting with Pyotr and the inspirational rise of the Batmen after his demise. Finally, let’s briefly mention Green Lantern. While the movie has him present alongside Lex & JFK in order to get informed about the Green Lantern ring and that he’ll be leading this newly-formed team, the comic introduces him during a brief Phantom Zone meeting where Luthor introduces Jimmy to Hal. He even gets his own backstory where in 1983, he was shot down over Communist-controlled Malaysia. From there, he was captured and tortured by the enemy natives for four years. During his imprisonment time, he mentally visualized the concentration camp that he would put his Communistic captors in. Ultimately, he was chose to lead the “Green Lantern Marine Corps”. As for other aspects of the film, the animation is absolutely pristine and fluid. Even after a few watches, I couldn’t find any flub of any kind. The movements are very smooth as characters are able to move throughout their scenes without any awkward display. The pacing flows nicely as it allows for a descent blend of informational details and thrilling throwdowns. The changes and omissions that it makes with its narrative helps to make the adapted story fit snugly within its precise runtime. Although, I wish that the film would’ve found a way to have the same strong feeling that the comic had of America’s economy and government struggling to keep up with the Superman-powered Soviet Union. Despite that, its other differences feel more conscious within its timeframe. Finally, the main action scenes are presented with a strong impression and help in moving the story forward. The strikes from the key hits leave a good impact while the overall feel of each set piece helps to resonate with what’s going on within the story at the time. They leave a great feeling towards our main character as he fights through whatever the situation happens to be and thus, it also helps with the progression of Superman’s arc. While each battle leads to his further loss of his own humanity, the climax sees him in battle with a renewed sense of what he was originally fighting for and ends with a satisfying note via the explosion. Sure, he survived the final blast, but it leads to a hopeful conclusion for this tale as opposed to the source material where it feels like it’s doomed to an endless cycle. As such, it allows the tale to have a positive sense of resolution.
Overall, this is top-notch tale that places itself among the higher end of Elseworld adaptations. The characters are likable within their respective roles, the animation is professionally presented, the action is thrilling and the pacing ties it all together with a strong source material that makes some necessary choices for its translation. It helps the film have a more concise feel and helps it be better than its source material with certain changes and alterations. If you’re interested, then give this film a watch in order to see this fight for “Stalin, Socialism and the international expansion of the Warsaw Pact”.
Next Time: Every conflict, battle and series must come to an end. After more than six years, the protectors of the New 52 Animated Universe must stand and fight Darkseid once again. However, things will get a lot tougher, darker and strenuous than ever before. It’s going to take an unlikely union of heroes to bring about a permanent end to the despotic ruler. The greatest, furious and most climactic clash awaits this world within the culminated tale known as “Justice League Dark: Apokolips War”.
Superman (created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster) and all related characters are owned by DC Comics.