While DC Comics has had notoriously bad luck in getting its superhero properties to the big screen (for instance, the planned Justice League film may be on the rocks), the company has done much better with animated adaptations. Recently, DC has released a good number of straight-to-DVD feature-length movies adapted from comic book storylines – including Superman vs. the Elite, Justice League: Doom, and The Dark Knight Returns (in two parts).
The next story to receive this treatment is Superman Unbound, due out later this year. A recently released trailer reveals that the movie will adapt the Geoff Johns-penned "Brainiac" arc originally published in Action Comics.
Superman Unbound's preview showcases what could be an ambitious, epic animated adventure. When Superman discovers an immensely powerful alien drone, he learns from his cousin Kara Zor-El that it's only the first scout in an invasion by the culture-collecting, world-destroying cyborg known as Brainiac. The film will follow the Super family's struggle to save Metropolis and the miniaturized bottle city of Kandor from Braniac.
As with other DC Comics animated movies, the assembled voice cast is fairly impressive, though admittedly not quite as name-heavy as previous adaptations. Clark Kent/Kal-El will be voiced by Matt Bomer (White Collar), who is ironically one of Screen Rant's picks to next fill the cowl of Batman (he even auditioned for the role of Superman when Brett Ratner was attached to direct Superman: Flyby). On the opposite end of the spectrum, Brainiac will speak with the voice of Fringe and Lord of the Rings veteran John Noble. The cast is rounded out by Stana Katic (Quantum of Solace) as Lois Lane and Molly C. Quinn (Castle) as Kara Zor-El/Supergirl.
Brainiac is one of Superman's oldest and most famous enemies. Fans have clamored for the synthetic conqueror to be the next villain in a live-action film for almost thirty years, but have yet to see those dreams come to fruition. Since the closest we ever came to a feature-film Brainiac was Tim Burton's Superman Lives, audiences have had to settle with animated and Smallville interpretations of the alien mastermind. Will the version depicted in Superman Unbound measure up?
The most recent DC Comics animated films have been serviceable, but not particularly extraordinary. Despite the supposedly epic scope of the movie, Superman Unbound's trailer displays the same kind of flat, workmanlike animation of Superman vs. the Elite and Justice League: Doom – a style that tended to make even the biggest and most provocative scenes feel static. Hopefully, Superman Unbound will take full advantage of its promising voice cast and solid source material to create a movie that transcends its (apparent) technical limitations.
Superman Unbound will soar onto DVD and Blu-ray on May 7th, 2013.