Review: 'Superman: Red Son' (2020) Dir. Sam Liu
Updated: Aug 28, 2020
This 2020 American animated superhero film is the 37th installment in the DC Universe Animated Original Movies series.
A refreshing "what if" Superman story, originally from Mark Miller's 2003 comic mini-series. Instead of landing in rural America, Kal-El crashed into Soviet Russia, growing up through the 1940s to learn how to give his powers to the state. And with time shifting to 1955, Superman is the child of Mother Russia, seen as a son by Stalin and a growing concern for the West.
However it doesn't take long for Superman to come to the attention of the city of Metropolis after helping save the city from a falling satellite. With a "look, up in the sky!" cry for help, Jason Isaac's Russian tinged, square-jawed Supes makes it clear he is here for peace and unity - at the behest of the Capitalist pigs holding nations back. It's a different DC world, such as Amy Acker's Lois Lane being married to Diedrich Bader's Lex Luthor, but it's a nice twist on history and established characters.
Featuring some comforting appearances from other popular DC heroes and villains, this doesn't stray too far away from the source material.
As with recent DC animation, the quality is top tier and has a slight retro look and feel, but not by cutting back on crisp detail, colour and basic CG enhancement.
Teaming up with alternate versions of Wonder Woman and The Green Lantern, this story explores what it means to be both a figurehead of good, and one who doesn't set out for personal glory. The character of Superman here is able to be a little darker around the edges, battling turmoil to serve both Capitalism and Communism in an era when world super-powers were on the brink of war. He's not a gleaming all-American hero here; he's something a lot more dangerous.
With mature content thanks to some casual cursing and a few moments of violence, this doesn't dive into 'Justice League Dark' territory, but it's not a sugar-coated story of Superman that younger viewers may be into. With as much a look at world politics and Governments over super-heroes, this is is a story akin to the Cold War crisis and presents grounded characters faced with extraordinary situations to navigate.
A solid cast bring familiar characters to live in this very atmospheric and unfamiliar look at a world that could have been, and what a hero like Superman truly stands for regardless of what side he is on.
'Superman: Red Son' is a Warner Bros. Animation production