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DC Universe Animated Original Movies (Part 39): Superman: Man Of Tomorrow

Hello, my friends.  Now that we’ve gone through a hectic, tumultuous and psychotic year full of wildfires, racial injustice and a worldwide plague, I think it’s time that we put 2020 behind us and look forward to a bright & prosperous future. As such, I find it absolutely fitting that I’ve chosen to tackle a film about setting the groundwork for better things to come while also embracing the potential hurdles that lie ahead.  On that note, I welcome you all to another entry of…

Not only was my signature review series due for a logo change, but it’s also fitting that it came with us on the verge of preparing to embark into the chronological unknown.  With that in mind, it’s time for us to once again bring up the famous Last Son of Krypton as I give my thoughts on another one of his animated outings.  Before he became the famous Man of Steel, he’ll be setting things in place for him to become…

Released on August 23, 2020 for Digital Download and September 8 on DVD, Blu-Ray & 4K Ultra HD Blu-Ray before getting a special online streaming release on September 12 for a single day on DC Fandome, this particular tale was written by Tim Sheridan and directed by Chris Palmer.  So, how will our familiar Kryptonian build the groundworks for his iconic superheroic persona?  Let’s take flight in order to find out.

Following the title card, we begin in Smallville as a pair of young boys are watching a cheesy sci-fi movie for their sleepover.  After the on-screen alien reveals himself and attacks a woman, one particular boy becomes distraught by this action and begins to cry over it.  As Petey (voiced by Christina Milizia) notices this and calls out to his mother, we soon cut to the kid having to be picked up by his dad, who turns out to be Jonathan Kent (voiced by Scrubs’ Janitor himself, Neil Flynn) as he tries to ask the young Kal-El on the incident, though he remains silent throughout the car ride.

We then cut to several days later over on the Kent family farm as the boy attempts to figure out how to open a triangular gizmo from his original home world.  During this, Martha Kent (voiced by Melody Grant herself, Bellamy Young) expresses her worry towards their adopted son feeling different from everyone else.  Jonathan tells her that their kid is distinct and that even though it scares their child, it’s important that he learns about where he came from.  As Kal-El gets frustrated with his inability to make the otherworldly device work, he proceeds to throw it in anger.  Suddenly, it catches itself in midair and hovers for a bit while emanating a unique glow before it places itself onto the floor.

Several years later, Clark Kent (voiced by Blaine Anderson & the Music Meister himself, Darren Criss) has become a young adult and moved to Metropolis.  As he prepares for work, he has a video conversation with his parents who express their worry for him since he’s been unintentionally getting some media attention as a “flying man” over the past two months.  Jonathan also says that unlike the humble quietness of Smallville, the city has plenty of “powerful people” that would be itching to get their probing hands on him.  Clark promises to be careful as he heads out to his job at the Daily Planet and their coverage of an upcoming launch, unaware that a mysterious man is watching him from afar.

Later, Kent arrives at the launch site outside of S.T.A.R. Labs as he delivers coffee to his fellow reporters, including Ron Troupe (voiced by Eugene Byrd).  From there, the event begins as Lex Luthor (voiced by Sylar & Spock himself, Zachary Quinto) tells the press that S.T.A.R. will be launching their “sophisticated orbital telescope” into space upon a rocket that’s funded by his company LexCorp.  From there, he calls up Lois Lane (voiced by Alexandra Daddario) who recently won the Luthor Journalism Scholarship and says that he’ll only be accepting a single question from her.  She exclaims that she’s spent the last several months investigating how the rocket was shadily funded by “a rather hefty government contract”.  Lex confidently assures the media that it’s a legit investment from the President before Lois reveals a hidden recording that she made of her conversation with him.  It turns out that he discreetly placed a particular figure into executive power in order to get the necessary funds for the rocket’s construction through less-than-legal means and with faulty parts.  His bodyguard Mercy Graves grabs the device and crushes it with her strength, but Lane finishes what Luthor said to her about it still taking off and that those who live within striking distance of the launch site will end up “hit by fiery debris”, concluding with the fact that she’s made several copies of the recording.  Afterwards, the press swarms him about this.

Meanwhile, Clark notices a janitor taking a brief break as he decides to give the man the last cup of coffee.  After he gladly accepts it, the custodian named Rudy Jones (voiced by Grant Ward himself, Brett Dalton) asks Kent why he’s not among the swarm of reporters, to which Clark explains that he’s an intern.  Shortly afterwards, the rocket proceeds to blast off.  From there, Rudy says that it’s nothing compared to what he’s seen within S.T.A.R. Labs, consisting of “experiments, bizarre weapons, and containment cells” that’re capable of handling “the kinds of weird powers” that the media has been recently covering.  As he learns about this, Kent discreetly uses his X-Ray Vision to see what lies beneath the facility.  He then asks Rudy if he can help him get inside, but Jones exclaims that he’s unable to since he doesn’t want to jeopardize his ability to financially support his wife, his daughter Kaylie and a second child that’s due to be born eventually.  Afterwards, he warns Clark about a potential stalker (which turns out to be the same mysterious man), thanks to his previous experience in the armed forces.

Suddenly, the rocket starts to malfunction and proceeds to plummet towards Metropolis as Kent manages to sneak away.  With his incriminating statement still fresh upon the press’ thoughts, Lex tries to discreetly flee.  However, the cops immediately approach and arrest him.  Afterwards, Clark returns in his proto-superhero disguise as he flies up towards the plummeting rocket in plain sight of the reporters.

With his super-strength, he manages to carry the busted rocket away from the city and up into space before he heaves it towards the sun. After discovering how high he’s flown, he soon feels the comforting and reenergizing glow of Earth’s main star as he basks within its bright light.

We then cut to the next day at the Daily Planet as Kent notices two articles within the day’s newspaper: Lex Luthor is en route to a 15-year jail sentence for his action and some governmental talks about the “flying man”.  Afterwards, the paper’s managing editor Perry White (voiced by Piotr Michael) gathers his staff together in order to introduce Lois as their newest reporter.  Despite her recent takedown of Luthor, the rest of the staff simply rolls their eyes and wander off.  Afterwards, she notices that Clark is the only one who didn’t stroll away before he finally realizes it and accidentally bumps some newspapers off of a table before he ultimately takes his leave.

Later, Lois is dealing with a paper jam in the copy room just as Kent comes in.  After they properly introduce themselves to each other, he proceeds to compliment her for taking down Lex before asking her how she pulled it off.  She says that scumbags like Luthor believe that they can lord their power over everyone and that she ultimately made him feel helpless by asking all the strategically-right questions in order to knock him down via a “Power Move”.  After she takes her leave, Clark notices some pictures that she accidentally left behind before discovering that they show him carrying the rocket while in disguise before coming across an adjacent picture of Batman where she commented about his “cool cape”.

Later, Kent uses his blanket as a cape in order to see how it would work with his superhero outfit.  Suddenly, he gets a news broadcast about S.T.A.R. Labs’ detection of an unidentified object hurtling towards Earth.  As the scientists try to figure out where it’s heading while Rudy looks on from afar, Clark proceeds to head out without his cape.

As he approaches the incoming ball of fire, he soon discovers that it’s not space debris at all.  Instead, it turns out to be the Czanian bounty hunter himself, Lobo (voiced by Harry Winston himself, Ryan Hurst).  As reporters and cameramen (not to mention the same mysterious figure) look on from afar, Kent asks the invader on his reason for being here.  After telling the “Kryptonian” the same thing, Lobo takes out his hook & chain and manages to wrap it around his arm.

Clark grabs onto the chain and hurls him down into a building.  After he recovers, Lobo whistles for his Space Hog before pursuing Kent while firing an otherworldly gun.  A brief chase ensues before Lobo takes out another weapon and fires several alien beings that manage to latch onto Kent and attempt to shock him.  Fortunately, he uses his Heat Vision to disintegrate these creatures.

Lobo tries to fire back, but Clark manages to ram into him and forces the bounty hunter into a construction sight, though not without accidentally causing some collateral damage along the way.  Lobo then tells Kent that he’s the last surviving Kryptonian within the whole universe.  As such, there’s a massive bounty on him.  As Clark exclaims that he’ll have to be brought in alive, Lobo discreetly takes out a small explosive before he kicks it over to Kent and detonates it.  Fortunately, Clark survived the blast with only his outfit getting mostly damaged.

Lobo then takes out a blade-shooting gattling gun and fires away, yet Kent is able to disarm him.  From there, they engage each other in a brief scuffle before Clark decides to move the fight to a different location.

As Rudy and the S.T.A.R. Labs scientists continue to observe the news coverage of this dust-up, Lobo manages to pursue Clark before he hops off his Space Hog and tackles his target.  As Jones sees them plummeting towards the building, he urgently tells the workers to get out before the two aliens crash their way inside.  While Rudy helps his technicians escape, Lobo picks up the unconscious Kent and slams him into the floor with a devastating force.  Unfortunately, Jones is unable to get out in time as the ground caves underneath him and he falls towards the facility’s sub-levels.

As a result, he winds up pinned underneath some debris while Clark and Lobo continue their fight.  Just then, the alien bounty hunter takes out a special grenade and hurls it at Kent, who manages to evade the massive blast.

It also releases a massive pile of purple sentient goop that manages to reach Rudy and envelope him entirely.  By the time Clark’s super-hearing picks up on his heart beat, he arrives too late to help him.

Suddenly, he gets blindsided by Lobo.  Fortunately, Kent retaliates by throwing him onto the parking lot where he proceeds to pound away at his foe before hitting him up towards the atmosphere.  Just as Lois and the rest of the reporters arrive, Clark finishes his upward assault before flying back down towards the sounds of congratulatory applause (as well as the same mystery man).

However, Lobo managed to recover as he uses Earth’s gravitational pull to plummet right towards his target.  Kent tells the reporters to flee before he receives a vicious hit that causes them to decimate the parking lot.  With Clark pinned, Lobo proceeds to reveal a ring upon his fist.  Not only that, but it contains Kryptonite as he proceeds to wail away upon Kent’s face.  As Clark lies battered & weakened within the bounty hunter’s grasp, Lobo prepares to finish him off.  Suddenly, he gets tossed by some otherworldly tendrils.

It turns out it be another alien as Lobo attempts to shoot him, but it manages to phase though his shots before it proceeds to engage the bounty hunter.

Meanwhile, Kent picks himself up and remembers how rejuvenating the sun felt.  As such, he proceeds to fly up for a proper recharge.  However, this distracts the green alien long enough for Lobo to attack with an explosive before tackling his foe into the crater.

Back with Clark, he manages to fly up and absorb enough sunlight in order to regain his full strength.  Afterwards, he heads right back down as the heat from the re-entry burns away his clothes.  Despite that, he heads right for Lobo while the green alien escapes.  Kent manages to fake out the bounty hunter by stopping in time before taking him out with a single punch.  Afterwards, he carries his defeated foe to approving applause.

We then cut to several days later at the Daily Planet as Perry tells his staff that they still don’t have any information about the two aliens that recently popped up.  As such, he doesn’t want them covering the “Flying Man” (or as Lois has called him: Superman) anymore.  Instead, he wants his reporters to focus on the otherworldly beings.  Afterwards, Clark talks to Lois about an interview that she’s supposed to have with Superman.  She says that she’s purposefully skipping it with the intent of employing her Power Move upon him, hoping that he’ll get impatient before asking to reschedule and be willing to answer whatever she asks of him.  As they ride the elevator down towards the main floor, Kent asks her if Superman attempts to deny it, to which Lane says that she’ll already know the truth by then since she’s presently on her way to interview Lobo.  In the end, she intends on writing an Pulitzer-winning exposé that covers her “revelatory takedown of the alien who calls himself the Superman”.

We then cut to sometime later in Smallville as Clark visits his parents and talks about his superheroic persona causing some tension amongst the humans.  He also says that sooner or later, he’ll be asked where he came from & why he was sent here and he’s afraid that he won’t have the proper answers for those questions.  Not to mention, Lois is in the middle of creating her exposé.  Jonathan then reminds him that “the world is dangerous and unforgiving”.  As such, he’ll only have two options to work with: either confront this problem or attempt to lay low.  Either way, both decisions will come with their own set of consequences.  As such, Clark gets told that he’ll have to make the choice himself and face the drawbacks that come with it.

Later that night in Metropolis, Mrs. Jones and Kaylie are in the hospital as they wait for the doctors to finish their operation upon Rudy.  Over in the operating room, the medical team proceeds to remove some of his inoperable organs.  Suddenly, he wakes up and grabs one of the doctor’s arms as she calls for a Code Black.  As two members of her staff attempts to send in the call, Rudy grips another scrub and throws him at the fleeing doctors, successfully knocking them out.  He then clutches onto the last remaining doctor and proceeds to drain both of their life energies, leaving them as lifeless husks.

From there, Rudy puts on a coat and makes his way out.  After he sees the operable cut heal up, he manages to walk past his wife & daughter without them noticing him.

Back in Smallville, Clark is helping his parents with a late-night chore.  Suddenly, his super-hearing picks up a disturbing sound as he tells his folks to stop the truck.  Later, Jonathan and Martha arrive back at their house where the mysterious man is waiting for them and says that he came here for their son.  The Kents tell him that he’s not here at the moment, but it doesn’t deter the guy as he asks them where their kid can be found.  When Jonathan tells him to take his leave, the mystery man proceeds to put him in a trance and attempts to read his thoughts.

Fortunately, Clark runs in to intervene as the mysterious man dodges and vanishes.  From there, he tells his parents to get in the house and lock their doors before he flies up to scan the area with his X-Ray Vision.  Suddenly, the mystery man appears behind him as Clark attempts to attack while the being is able to evade his strikes.  After blocking one of Clark’s punches, the man says that he only wishes to talk to him as he reveals his true identity.  Not only is he the green alien that helped him against Lobo, but he’s actually J’onn J’onzz a.k.a. Martian Manhunter (voiced by Ike Amadi).

Over in Metropolis, Rudy makes his way into a pharmacy and asks for some drugs in order to deal with his internal pain.  The pharmacist tells him that there’s nothing he can do without a prescription and even tries to point him towards a nearby clinic.  However, Jones grabs him and absorbs his life energy.  In addition, he also gains the man’s medical knowledge in order to learn what works as a postsurgical analgesic: Fentanyl.  Afterwards, he hops over the counter in order to acquire the drug.  As he swipes the pharmacy’s entire supply, a young couple approaches the counter and notice the newly-deceased pharmacist.  From there, Rudy walks by a mirror and notices what’s physically becoming of him.  Afterwards, he hops back across the counter and absorbs their life energies.

Back at the Kent farm in Smallville, Jonathan & Martha prepare some tea for Clark and J’onn before heading up for bed.  Afterwards, Kent thanks his alien friend for his timely save at S.T.A.R. Labs.  However, J’onzz regrets revealing his true form since he’s partially responsible for Lobo arriving on Earth in the first place.  As Kal-El learns that J’onn is also the lone surviving member of his whole race, J’onzz exclaims that he’ll be reverting back into his human disguise in order to keep a low profile.  He advises Clark to do the same, due to having experienced humanity’s “rampant xenophobia” and its potential to “destroy a great civilization”.  However, Kal-El says that it’s not an option since the Daily Planet is prepping to publish an exposé about him.  Fortunately, mankind is starting to see him as a “champion” of sorts.  As such, he thinks that telling the truth about himself will allow the humans to see him in a better light.  As J’onn informs Clark of his original birth name, he explains that he thought that Kal-El was a fellow Martian.  As such, he attempted a telepathic link and accidentally tapped into his memories from Krypton.  Afterwards, he proceeds to access the technological triangle with ease.  From there, it shows a hologram of Kal-El’s birth parents Jor-El and Lara as they place their child within a tiny spaceship.  J’onzz then says that he can help him access these memories stored within the device in order to learn from them.  Later, Martian Manhunter tells Clark to simply “listen” in order to find him again before taking his leave.

We then shift to the next day as Kal-El has spent the entire night learning about his former home world.  Martha then comes out as he says that he’s barely scratched the surface on the historical information that’s contained within.  Afterwards, she presents his proper costume that she made with the fabric that came with him inside his rocket.  He even gets a cape that’s made out of a highly-durable fabric as he thanks his mother for the outfit.  Afterwards, Jonathan arrives back with a copy of the Daily Planet containing the first part of Lois’ exposé.  Clark tells his parents that it only teases a big reveal, but she’s waiting until she’s interviewed Lobo to do so.  As such, Kal-El decides to fly back to Metropolis in order to deal with this developing situation.

Over at S.T.A.R. Labs, Lois is attempting to interview Lobo.  However, he’s being hilariously difficult with her.  When she’s able to ask him about Superman being the lone Kryptonian on Earth and if there’s any more of them on their way, Lobo initially lies about it just to enjoy the shocked look on her face.

Unbeknownst to them, the ever-mutating Rudy slowly gains further access within the building.  Meanwhile, Lane gets fed up of Lobo’s sexually harassing shenanigans and decides to head out.  Suddenly, she notices that the nearby technicians have been reduced to withered husks before Jones pops in and breaks down the door.  Afterwards, Lois manages to record him on her cell phone before he begins to charge towards her.

Suddenly, a pair of guards arrive and open fire on him.  Unfortunately, it only succeeds in temporarily slowing him down as he rushes over and grabs each of them, managing to absorb their life energies.

During all of this, Lois manages to hide behind the mangled door in order to keep recording this incident.  Afterwards, Rudy sees the imprisoned Lobo and attempts to get back at the Czarnian bounty hunter for what he unintentionally did.  Instead, he absorbs the electricity from the containment cell.  As a result, he ends up mutating into a monstrous-looking being while shorting out the containment barrier.  As such, Lobo casually takes his leave.  Afterwards, the newly-mutated Parasite gets up and claws his way out.

Meanwhile, Lois tries to keep recording the incident, but she accidentally loses her grip on her cell phone before she hears some approaching footsteps.  Fortunately, it turned out to be Superman as he lifts the door out of the way.  Before he takes his leave to stop Parasite, he tells Lois that he should be the one who tells the masses about his intentions.  Thankfully, she agrees right before he heads out.

Back over with Parasite, he continues his energy-absorbing rampage when he spots a train passing by.  As such, he hops on and attempts to drain the passengers of their life essences.  Suddenly, Superman shows up to intervene.  Rudy charges right at him, only to end up phasing through him before slamming into a nearby building.  It turns out to be Martian Manhunter as the actual Superman arrives.

However, Parasite is able to quickly recover as Supes steps in to deal with him.  During their struggle, Rudy senses a vast amount of power from his adversary before he’s hit by Superman’s Heat Vision.  Not only does Parasite easily withstand the blast, but he’s also able to absorb its energy.  As such, Kal-El uses his Heat Vision to trap Rudy within a mass of asphalt.  Afterwards, he checks up on J’onn and his attempt to save the train passengers.

Unfortunately, Parasite managed to break out and tackle Superman.  From there, he begins to absorb Kal-El’s energy and also starts to mutate even further.  Not only that, but Rudy even takes in his thoughts and discovers his Earth-based identity of Clark Kent, in addition to his Kryptonian birth name.

Martian Manhunter is able to fly in and tackle the monstrous fiend, but Parasite manages to grab his fists and absorb his energy.  After gaining the knowledge of J’onn’s identity, Rudy then uses a newfound ability as he strikes back with Heat Vision and incinerates J’onzz before he uses another newly-acquired technique and vanishes.

Later, Clark is back at his apartment as he struggles to fully recover from the attack.  In his weakened state, his Heat Vision can barely make the water in his glass boil.  He then smashes the glass in anger before he immediately sees that the shards managed to leave a bloody gash on his palm.  Suddenly, Lois bursts in to check up on him.  As she cleans his cut, she says that Perry sent her over to inform Kent that he’s fired just because he didn’t show up for work.

Afterwards, she asks him if he saw Superman.  Clark says that he did as well as Martian Manhunter getting incinerated by “that parasite thing”.  From there, he says that being a reporter has essentially become overwhelming to him.  Thankfully, she tells him that he purposefully chose an occupation that puts him on the frontline of dangerous things in order to “make a difference”, only to occasionally “get smacked down”.  However, it’s worth facing those risks if it’s what he wants to do and there will come times when he’ll need to “ask someone smarter” in order to get the job done.  As he looks at a newspaper photo of Lex, Clark realizes that she’s right as he thanks her before sending her out in order to go “talk to someone smart”.