An All-Star Superman animated direct-to-DVD movie, with Christina Hendricks voicing Lois Lane and Ed Asner (!) voicing Perry White? I’m glad to hear that Bruce Timm is producing, but the handful of DVD movies from DC I’ve seen recently have been just okay (I’m thinking Superman: Doomsday and Crisis on Two Earths here). I’d be more disappointed with mediocrity here, though, because I love the source material so much.
While a movie may be safest way to put the series to the screen and make some sure money, it really lends itself more to either a miniseries or series. One of the best parts about the series, and one of the things that makes it unique among contemporary superhero comics, is that it is told episodically, even if a big, monolithic story underlies everything. And if it were to be a full series and needed some new stories to complement the original ones, I have no doubt that Timm could devise some. Most of them aren’t more sophisticated than the stories from JLU, even if they are sometimes bolder or more wondrous.
One of my basic concerns about how they produce this is how dark they make it. Most compliments I hear about Batman: Under the Hood, Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker, and so many other of these animated movies is about how dark and adult they are. All-Star is definitely sad and even adult sometimes, but it is far from dark, and I have a feeling that they will have a hard time capturing its wonder, optimism, excitement, and sheer inventiveness. Another basic concern is capturing the series’ intricateness. I say above that some of the stories aren’t that sophisticated, but the story telling is frequently very intricate: so many panels have so much going on in them and so many plot threads have unimportant but highly rewarding connections that I’ve read the series a few times and have a feeling there is much more to catch. When I read All-Star, I feel like my cup runneth over. Can a direct-to-DVD movie possibly recreate this?
Really, I think the movie’s quality will depend on being able to capture these qualities in a satisfactory way while carefully excising or compressing parts of the story. The central plot must stand: Luthor poisons Superman by over-exposing him to the sun, and now Superman, equipped with super super strength and intelligence, makes the most of the time he has left. His relationships with Lois, Jimmy, Quintum, and his parents are pivotal, and if the movie retells issue 6 successfully (“Funeral in Smallville”), then I’d probably forgive it anything. But Solaris the Tyrant Sun? Maybe best left out of a project like this.