A movie that reinterprets Superman’s good-intentioned ideals to the brink and back
What if Superman crash-landed in 1945 Russia instead of America?
Based on the critically acclaimed 2003 comic book miniseries of the same name, Superman: Red Son is an alternate retelling of Superman’s origins from the trust, justice, and American way sprouting Kansas native to a Soviet symbol for the people. Told from the perspectives of Superman (Jason Issacs) and Lex Luthor (Diedrich Bader), the film follows historic moments in world history while presenting, comparing, and contrasting the ideological conflict made famous by the Cold War.
Ever wondered if Superman crash-landed in Russia, instead of Kansas, and raised on their ideals circa 1946? Then this is the animated film you comrade. Based on the 2003 comic book series from the Elseworlds line of the same name by Mark Millar. Superman: Red Son follows the Last Son of Krypton’s struggle with both his ideals instilled during his childhood, to be a symbol of hope to his people and the need to serve the State. Naturally, Superman (Jason Issacs) comes to odds with his classic nemesis Lex Luthor (Diedrich Bader), both the personifications of conflicting ideals during the Cold War, Communism and Capitalism if you will. In addition to the ideological conflict, the movie’s filled with alternate versions of established DC characters from Wonder Woman (Vanessa Marshall) to a more murdery Batman (Roger Craig Smith).
The movie begins in 1946, bullies chase a child across a field but are fought off by a young girl, Svetlana (Winter Ave Zoli), the child comes out of hiding and reveals, “He was not afraid of the bullies, he was afraid on what he would do to the bullies.” The young boy proceeds to demonstrate the best way to prove you’re superhuman, lifting a tractor with one hand and flying off with said trusted friend. The movie begins with a great start on establishing the ideals of a young Superman voiced by Tara Strong while hinting at a possible romance in the future and underlining the ideological innocence he grew up with.
A decade later, and the Soviet Union propaganda machine is hard at work, painting Superman as the new deterrent amid the Cold War. President Eisenhower tasks Lex Luthor to create a countermeasure to the dubbed “Soviet Superman.” Coincidentally, or not if you know Lex, a Russian satellite breaks orbit and is on a collision course with Metropolis. Superman saves the day but not before trading ideological rhetoric with the one and only Lois Lane (Amy Acker). Later that day on the roof of the Daily Planet, Superman appears to a surprised Lois. After some more trading rhetoric, Lois hands Supes a classified folder detailing the many Gulags set by Stalin. After visiting one, he confronts Premier Stalin and inevitably kills him for the tremendous loss of life that the smoldering pile of ash previously known as the Premier deemed “necessary for the machine to work.” Now comes the moment of ideological conflict, can Superman hold up his ideological innocence of being a symbol of hope? Or will it become twisted and repeat what Stalin built?
On his crusade to use his powers for “good” and stop conflict in the world, Superman battles the US’s “Superior Man,” invaders from space in the form of Brainiac, and even a militant version of Batman, who does kill with explosive ferocity. Through all the conflict and push back, Superman unknowingly changes his tactics and opts for what is essentially lobotomizing dissenters to the Soviet Union with Brainiac’s technology. Believing that it is for their good, effectively becoming what Stalin was but in a different, more muscly wrapper. It’s worth mentioning that while Wonder Woman is a force to be reckoned with in the film, she is immensely underutilized and reduced to a side character, I’m shocked they would do that. SHOCKED!
While there are action sequences that are decently done and fan service cameos, the film focuses more on the ideological ramifications of how far a person with good intentions given ultimate power can go in a world that is ultimately dirty and chaotic. This dilemma is only taken up a notch and further complicated by a thousand when someone who is essentially a god takes the responsibly to be that driving force in the world. While good intentions aren’t necessarily a bad thing, Superman: Red Son presents how even good intentions can cloud the judgment of the most well-meant human, or in this case, Kryptonian.
Release Date: February 25, 2020
Director: Sam Liu
Distributor: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment
Genre: Animation | Action | Sci-Fi
Runtime: 1 hr. 24 min.
Official Website: www.dccomics.com/movies/superman-red-son
Official Social Media Pages:
IMDB Page: www.imdb.com/title/tt10985510/
Joseph Mason | Writing Contributor
B.A. | TV, Film, & Media | Cal State Univ – Los Angeles The human being formally known as Ernesto Camacho IV is a student from California State University Los Angeles with love for the simple things in life: 90s pop culture fandoms, character/world-building, and pondering the intricacies of the galaxy. During the start of his academic tenure before transferring, Joseph wrote and hosted for the campus news program developing and crafting concise news/event scripts as quickly as humanly possible in various formats and mediums. During his off time, Joseph produced and co-hosted podcasts focusing on a variety of topics, from entertainment industry news to video games and even nature of fandoms themselves. When he is not pouring endless hours into the latest video game, he is writing or planning his next writing project. Passionate, collaborative, and somewhat eccentric, Joseph Mason dreams of being part of the entertainment industry in a creative capacity, be it through editing, writing, or physical productions, in the meantime, he strives to be the best human he can be. Instagram: @xenpixel || View My Articles
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