A Youthful Superman Battles Lobo & Parasite

DC’s line of animated films get a fresh start in the sparkling new Superman: Man of Tomorrow. Having finished off their New 52-inspired continuity with Justice League Dark: Apokolips War, they kick off the new universe with a modern update on Superman’s origin story. Featuring expected names like Lois Lane and Lex Luthor, DC Comics characters like Lobo and Martian Manhunter are brought in for a little help.

The smart, polished screenplay pays homage to the Man of Steel’s essential traits while incorporating a few new elements that play better with current audiences. It’s a slick action blockbuster that “gets” the character and what defines Superman as a superhero. Taking a focus on his early days as an intern at the Daily Planet, familiar faces like Perry White yelling his trademark “Great Caesar’s Ghost!” and a brilliant Lex Luthor diabolical as ever, convincingly build this new world into a comfortable reality. Superman faces off with Lobo and one of his most dangerous foes, the Parasite. It’s a far more classic take on Superman than the highly polarizing Man of Steel that fractured fandom.

Superman: Man of Tomorrow is the movie his devoted fans have been waiting for with Henry Cavill’s Superman sidelined

The star-studded vocal cast is led by Zachary Quinto as Lex Luthor, Alexandra Daddario as Lois Lane, and Darren Criss as Clark Kent. Along with starting a new animated continuity that will springboard future movies, WB Animation introduces a stylish new aesthetic with thicker lines and flatly-shaded colors. It’s a great fit for the gleaming design of Metropolis and colorful superhero antics.

The sleek, streamlined storytelling largely passes over Clark Kent’s formative years in Kansas, skipping straight ahead to his early days in Metropolis. This is a younger Superman, confident in his powers but still finding his way around as an emerging superhero. Clark has a testy but playful relationship with reporter Lois Lane. She just sent Lex Luthor behind bars with her undercover reporting. Taking bits and pieces from various origins told in different mediums from comics to television, it’s a fresh and action-packed origin tale grounded in Superman’s mythos.

Rated PG-13, the amount of violence is bloody and realistic. Often criticized for being a boring character due to his invulnerability, Superman is given vicious beatings when weakened by both Parasite and Lobo. Leaving young children out of the target audience, Superman: Man of Tomorrow is clearly intended for teens and older crowds. DC has increasingly aimed their animated superhero movies at older and more sophisticated audiences with occasional foul language and serious action.

Briskly paced, the nearly 85-minute movie does a great job introducing Superman as the foundation of a new animated universe. Always entertaining, Superman: Man of Tomorrow is the movie his devoted fans have been waiting for with Henry Cavill’s Superman sidelined for the moment.

Video

Marking a new beginning to their line of direct-to-video animated movies and hoping to launch a successful ongoing continuity, DC and WB animation have switched animation styles for Superman: Man of Tomorrow. The closest comparison is the animated feature Archer with smoother motion and fluidity. Featuring thicker lines, flatter colors, and a much tighter art direction, there’s no doubt this is a visual improvement and huge step forward. The 1.78:1 presentation soars with startling colors and classic design choices for iconic characters such as Lois Lane, Lex Luthor and Superman himself.

It’s evident that more money has been sunk into the animation budget, allowing for further refinement and more consistent character designs. The clean, flat-shaded animation fits Superman’s world of Metropolis and Kansas better than it might for some other superheroes. My single complaint in an otherwise beautifully designed movie is the flatter red hue used for Superman’s underpants.

Some have questioned the utility of these animated DC flicks getting UHD releases. That is not the case here with this disc. Superman: Man of Tomorrow is a stunner at 2160P resolution on UHD. The above-average HDR pass and enhanced HEVC encode trounce the fairly mediocre BD’s picture quality. It’s almost shocking how different they look when compared on a nice display. Color saturation and tonality are bolder on UHD, whereas colors fall flat and lifeless at 1080P.

The HDR is nicely shown off when Superman flies toward the bright Sun against the black background of space. It’s also heavily used with an array of neon inks when the Parasite absorbs various energies, throwing off glowing lines all over his body. Kryptonite glows with a sharp green glare only possible with HDR’s expanded color palette.

Superman: Red Son looked decent on UHD but Superman: Man of Tomorrow is a clear step above in picture quality. It receives a clean technical transfer and encode from Warner that lets the nicely refined animation stand out in pristine glory. Maybe a hint of banding but it’s almost definitely baked into the original animation.

Audio

Solid LFE support and excellent surround design mark the 5.1 DTS-HD MA audio. While Atmos may have improved things, this remains an engaging soundtrack with powerful bass and heavily discrete action. There are some great moments in the mix featuring Superman’s flight panning across the soundstage, not to mention Lobo coming in from space with his thundering interstellar motorcycle. Battles are intense as Superman’s heatvision sizzles and Lobo’s weapons make for excellent sonic explosions.

The score from Kevin Riepl owes a touch to John Williams’ classic Superman movie score, appropriately triumphant and heroic for the Man of Steel. The mix is nicely balanced with clarity and full-sounding dialogue.

In a curious move for Warner, the Blu-ray copy has more subtitle and dubs available than the UHD. The UHD includes optional English SDH, French and Spanish subtitles playing in a white font. The BD includes ten different subtitle options, including several European languages. French and Spanish dubs in 5.1 Dolby Digital are included on the UHD, while the Blu-ray also includes a German dub.

Extras

Warner has put out Superman: Man of Tomorrow in several different configurations in a bid for your dollars. There’s the standard UHD and BD combo set, arriving in an attractive slipcover. Best Buy has an exclusive limited edition UHD set which also comes with a figure for the Parasite. Target has an exclusive Steelbook version, though it’s limited to Blu-ray only.

The UHD editions includes a Movies Anywhere digital copy that redeems in UHD quality. The bonus features are fairly typical for an animated DC movie with the two episodes from Superman: The Animated Series being the nicest addition. A couple of new featurettes provide interviews with voice actors and professionals plucked from the comics discussing each character’s history.

Like some other labels, all bonus features are relegated to the Blu-ray. The UHD is completely barebones. Probably a move by the studio to prevent people splitting up their combo packages.

Lobo – Natural Force of Chaos (10:23 in HD) – A new featurette that dives into DC’s most infamous bounty hunter, from his origins on the comic page into his modern development. Featured participants include DC artists such as Bernard Chang and voice actor Ryan Hurst discussing the character’s attitude and background.

Martian Manhunter – Lost and Found (08:47 in HD) – Some of the same faces from the Lobo featurette return for comments about the most unsung member of the Justice League, his struggles as an alien and more. This piece is more distinctly concerned with the current incarnation of the character featured in the movie.

Batman: Soul of the Dragon Sneak Peek (11:56 in HD) – Bruce Timm and others preview the next animated DC project, which explores Batman’s martial arts training and meeting characters like Shiva. Made with a Seventies vibe in mind, there are cute gags recalling that era’s fashion choices and tastes.

Justice League Vs. Fatal Five Preview (09:29 in HD) – An older preview already released before.

Superman/Batman: Public Enemies Preview (07:44 in HD) – An older preview for an already released movie.

DC Trailers (04:57 in HD) – Justice League Dark: Apokolips War, Mortal Kombat Legends: Scorpion’s Revenge, Superman: Red Son.

From the DC Vault – A two-parter featuring Lobo meeting Superman from his beloved animated series by Bruce Timm is included.

Superman: The Animated Series – “The Main Man” Part 1 (20:17 in SD)

Superman: The Animated Series – “The Main Man” Part 2 (21:21 in SD)

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

Superman: Man of Tomorrow
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras
5

Movie

Introducing a younger Superman just making his way in Metropolis, the fresh origin story is highlighted by crisp action and a compelling story.

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4 (1 vote)

The following six screen shots serve as samples for our subscription-exclusive set of 51 full resolution uncompressed 4K screen shots grabbed directly from the UHD: