There have been many Superman animated movies over the years with varying levels of success. All with unique takes on Man of Steel by various writers. From origin stories to team-ups with Justice League in numerous realities. Some go beyond the animation and provide a deeper look at the character. Others are just not good enough to be mentioned here.
Here is a definitive list of the best Superman animated movies in no particular order.
Superman is dying from an overload of power after completing a mission that got him too close to the sun. He unveils his plans for life after he's gone and how his inventions and beliefs can still protect the world from supervillains like Luther. Leave it to Luther to test those plans. This movie is directed by Sam Liu and contains the voices of James Denton, Christina Hendricks, Anthony LaPaglia, and Ed Asner.
The animation in this, much like the graphics of the amazing comic is excellent. The depiction of the aliens and monsters is so fascinating and well done. There were some great action scenes with Luther and Superman together, and versus the aliens/monsters. The ending gives you the perfect showdown and triumphs. This movie itself isn't perfect but it is very entertaining and worth a viewing for all Superman fans.
Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 2
Superman's role in Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 2 is primarily that of a foil to Batman. Whereas Batman has taken a dark and gritty turn in his old age, Superman remains the same Boy Scout he always was. This dichotomy between the two characters is explored throughout the film. With Superman eventually coming to blows with Batman over their differing ideologies.
The film opens with Superman stopping a group of Russian terrorists from detonating a nuclear bomb in Gotham City. He then goes on to apprehend Lex Luthor, who has been causing havoc with his new army of mutated creatures.
Meanwhile, Batman has returned to Gotham after a 10-year absence and has taken up the mantle of the Bat once again. He quickly dispatches a group of criminals, but is then confronted by Superman. The two argue over Batman's methods, with Superman warning Batman that he will not hesitate to stop him if he continues down this dark path.
The two eventually come to blows, with Batman coming out on top thanks to a Batarang laced with kryptonite. This victory is short-lived. Superman quickly recovers and the two begin an all-out battle that culminates in Superman breaking Batman's back.
Batman is then taken to the Batcave by Robin and Alfred, where he begins to recover from his injuries. He is then visited by Superman, who has come to check on him. The two have a heart-to-heart, with Superman admitting that he admires Batman's tenacity and courage. He then leaves, warning Batman to stay out of trouble.
The film ends with Batman vowing to never back down from his crusade, even if it means going up against Superman again.
The best part of the film is the final showdown between Batman and Superman. This battle not only has some amazing action sequences but also serves to explore the differing ideologies of the two characters. It is a truly epic scene that is sure to please fans of both characters. This is arguably one of the best takes of any Batman vs Superman story.
Superman: The Last Son of Krypton
Superman: The Last Son of Krypton is a 1996 television film. It is another take on the origins of Superman. Also introducing two classic DC villains (Brainiac and Lex Luthor) and giving us a feisty new Lois Lane voiced Dana Delaney.
The film has a retro comic book feel with a bright color palette and familiar characters. Clark Kent is voiced by Tim Daly and is shown to be amusing and stubbornly heroic in the face of tough choices.
I like the look of the film and the way it tells the origin story of Superman. I also like that it introduces classic DC villains. Clark Kent is a likable character and it's interesting to see how he deals with difficult situations.
There are many enjoyable scenes throughout the film. Some of my favorites include when Superman first arrives in Metropolis and when he saves Lois Lane from a falling helicopter. Both scenes are exciting and showcase Superman's heroic abilities.
Themes explored in the film include heroism, responsibility, and morality. As Superman tries to navigate his new life on Earth, he must learn to balance his responsibilities as a superhero with his own personal desires. This can be difficult at times, especially when faced with villains like Brainiac and Lex Luthor. However, Superman always manages to do what is right, even if it isn't easy.
Superman/Batman: Public Enemies
Superman/Batman: Public Enemies is a 2009 animated superhero film based on the Superman/Batman comic book arc of the same name. The film features the voice talents of Tim Daly as Superman, Kevin Conroy as Batman, Clancy Brown as Lex Luthor, and CCH Pounder as Amanda Waller.
The plot is based on Lex Luthor becoming President of the United States and declaring Superman and Batman enemies of the state. The two heroes must team up to stop Luthor and a giant meteor headed for Earth. Along the way, they must contend with numerous villains who have also been declared enemies of the state.
I like that the film is action-packed and does a good job of adapting the "Public Enemies" story arc from the Superman/Batman comic book series. The social commentary woven into the plot makes it easy to follow. The cast all did fantastic jobs with their voice acting.
The film could have benefited from being fleshed out a bit more as it is a bit too short. Additionally, I would have liked to see more of Batman and Superman's different approaches to justice on display. However, these are relatively minor quibbles in an otherwise enjoyable film.
I would recommend Superman/Batman: Public Enemies to fans of either superhero as well as anyone who enjoys a good action-packed story.
Based on the "Super from Krypton" comic storyline, the movie follows Kara Zor-El, Superman's cousin. Her parents have sent her to Earth before Krypton's destruction. Arriving on Earth many years after Superman, she discovers that she possesses the same superpowers as him. Deciding to use them to fight for altruism as the superheroine Supergirl.
However, when Darkseid comes to Earth in search of Superman, Supergirl must face him alone. The movie culminates in a battle between Supergirl and Darkseid, with Superman eventually coming to his cousin's aid. In the end, Kara decides to stay on Earth and continue using her powers for good as Supergirl.
I liked that the film explored Kara's journey to finding her place on Earth and her origins as a superheroine. The action-packed final battle between Supergirl and Darkseid was really enjoyable to watch. It would have been nice to see more development in the relationship between Superman and Supergirl. Additionally, the film could have further explored Kara's backstory on Krypton.
Superman: Doomsday is a 2007 animated movie based on the "Death of Superman" storyline from the comic books. In the movie, Superman faces off against the monstrous Doomsday, and though he ultimately defeats his adversary, he dies in the process. This leaves Metropolis without a protector, and criminals quickly take advantage of the situation. The city is further thrown into chaos when a clone of Superman created by Lex Luthor begins terrorizing citizens. However, the real Superman is still alive, and he eventually returns to set things right.
The main themes of the movie are death and loss, morality, hope, and redemption. The death of Superman is a central event that drives the plot forward, and it leads to many characters having to confront their own mortality. The themes of morality and hope are closely tied together. Throughout the film, characters must grapple with whether it is worth fighting for justice when there is so much cruelty and darkness in the world.
However, the message of the film is ultimately one of hope; despite all the darkness, there is still good in the world, and it is worth fighting for. Redemption is also a key theme. Several characters are given second chances to make up for their past mistakes. They all take advantage of these opportunities to become better people.
The movie does an excellent job of exploring the aftermath of Superman's death. It shows how different people deal with grief in their own way. This is a very powerful scene that will stay with you long after the credits have rolled.
One thing that could have been better is the portrayal of Lois Lane. In the comics, Lois is an incredibly strong and capable woman, but in this movie she comes across as weak and helpless. This is disappointing, as Lois is one of the most iconic female characters in all of DC Comics. However, despite this misstep, the film is still an excellent example of superhero animation.
Superman: Doomsday is a great movie that is sure to please fans of the comics and animation alike. It is a bit dark at times, but it ultimately delivers an uplifting message about hope and redemption. If you are looking for a thought-provoking and entertaining film, then this is definitely one to check out.
Justice League: War
In response to the superheroes' discovery of his plans, Desaad begins an invasion of Earth. Superman, Batman (played by Jason O'Mara) and Green Lantern realize an invasion has begun when a mother box containing Apokolips technology activates and creates several Boom Tubes around the world. The Justice League is formed to fight back against the Parademons, with Cyborg being created in the process. Ultimately, they are successful in forcing Darkseid back to Apokolips. In a post-credits scene, Ocean Master emerges from the ocean with the dead body of his king, vowing revenge against the surface dwellers.
The plot is basic and there are some weak voice performances. However, the film is visually appealing and accurate to its source material (Justice League: Origin by Geoff Johns and Jim Lee). Fans of the Justice League comics will enjoy this origin story of the iconic superhero team.
Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox
The film is based on the popular DC Comics storyline "Flashpoint" by Geoff Johns. The story follows Barry Allen, aka The Flash, as he travels back in time to save his mother's life. This alters the timeline and creates an alternate reality where the Justice League does not exist and Superman is a captive of the U.S. Government.
Superman is a captive of the U.S. Government after his ship crashed into Metropolis. He is rescued by Barry Allen and Batman, and helps them fight Wonder Woman, Aquaman, and Captain Atom. In the end, Superman helps Barry restore reality.
Justice League: War is an exciting and action-packed film that is sure to please fans of DC Comics. The animation is top-notch, and the voice acting is excellent. If you're a fan of the DC Universe, then this is a film you won't want to miss.
Justice League: Gods and Monsters
Justice League: Gods and Monsters explores the alternate reality. With alternate versions of Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman. It is the main film through three stand-alone stories. Superman is the son of General Zod; Wonder Woman is Bekka of New Genesis, who was raised by Highfather. The first two parts were written by Timm while the third was written by Burnett. All three parts were directed by Sam Liu.
After the death of Lois Lane, the world's remaining scientists (John Henry Irons, Thomas Morrow, Michael Holt, Pat Dugan, Emil Hamilton, Karen Beecher (whom Will Magnus argued with), Thaddeus Sivana, Kimiyo Hoshi, and Stephen Shin) are gathered by Superman for answers. However, they are attacked by three robotic assassins who travel via Boom tube. Despite their efforts, the assassins leave Magnus as the sole survivor of the attack.
The League takes Magnus to the Tower to recover while Superman flies to Lex Luthor's satellite orbiting the moon. Luthor reveals that Project Fair Play is a way to destroy the League if necessary; he also reveals the truth about Zod to Superman. Back on Earth, Batman and Wonder Woman find Tina's dead body inside the Tower.
In an interview with Collider, Bruce Timm stated that the setting of Gods and Monsters is "a little bit different" from the other DC Animated Universe films as it is "slightly more mature, slightly grittier." He also said that while the film is not necessarily "darker" than the other DCAU films, it is "definitely more serious."
Timm also said that the film would explore what makes a hero and what defines a villain, as well as asking the question: "What if Superman was raised by General Zod?" He added that the film would also feature new takes on iconic Batman villains such as Joker and Harley Quinn.
Superman: Unbound is a 2013 animated superhero film based on the 2008 comic book story arc "Superman: Brainiac" by Geoff Johns. The film was directed by James Tucker, written by Bob Goodman, and produced by Warner Bros. Animation. It features the voice talents of Matt Bomer as Superman, Stana Katic as Lois Lane, and John Noble as Brainiac.
The film's plot follows Superman as he battles Brainiac. Brainiac is a super-intelligent alien cyborg who has been collecting cities from around the universe in an attempt to achieve "complete and up-to-date knowledge" of them. Superman teams up with Supergirl to stop Brainiac from destroying the planet after he captures Metropolis.
I enjoyed the film's action-packed plot and its focus on Superman's battle against Brainiac. The voice acting was also well done, particularly John Noble's performance as Brainiac. I thought the film did a good job of staying true to the source material while still being accessible to a wider audience.
I didn't particularly care for the film's animation style, which I found to be too cartoony for my taste. Additionally, the film's humor felt forced at times and took away from the more serious tone of the story.
I thought Superman: Unbound was an enjoyable superhero film that fans of the genre will enjoy. While it's not perfect, it's a solid entry in the DC Animated Universe and is worth checking out.
Superman vs. The Elite
Superman is confronted with a new group of superheroes called The Elite, who have a very different approach to fighting crime than he does. The Elite are willing to kill their enemies, whereas Superman believes that there is always another way. The two groups come into conflict, and eventually end up fighting each other. Superman prevails in the end, but not before he is forced to come to terms with the fact that sometimes killing is necessary.
I liked the premise of the story and the action sequences. I thought the character designs were good, and the backgrounds and colors were fluid and atmospheric. The voice acting was also great. I didn't like how Lois was portrayed as a stereotypical bitchy character, and I thought the quality of the writing was mixed. I also felt that the story was too black and white, and that some of the characters were not developed enough.
Superman: Red Son
The mini-series is set in an alternate reality where the Soviet Union controls most of the world. Superman, who was sent to Earth from Krypton as a baby, arrives in the Soviet Union and is raised to become a champion of communism. He eventually meets and falls in love with Lois Lane, who works for the American government.
The two superpowers are constantly at war with each other, and Superman is torn between his love for Lois and his duty to the Soviet Union. In the end, Superman decides to side with the Soviet Union and help them win the Cold War. However, he is eventually betrayed by the Soviet government and forced to go into hiding.
Superman Red Son is a story about what would happen if Superman landed in the Soviet Union instead of the United States. It explores how he would be raised and how he would view the world if he was brought up with communist values. The story also highlights the tensions between the two superpowers during the Cold War.
Red Son was written by Mark Millar, with art by Dave Johnson and Kilian Plunkett. The mini-series was published by DC Comics in 2003 and is considered to be one of the best Elseworlds stories ever told.
The Death of Superman
Like Superman: Doomsday and its title, this is another animated film with the "Death of Superman" storyline.
In this version, Doomsday is a creature that is created from the genetic material of some of the universe's most dangerous beings. He comes to Earth and goes on a rampage, killing everything and everyone in his path. Injuring the Justice League and almost killing Wonder Woman. Superman arrives to confront him, and after a fierce battle, Doomsday kills Superman by snapping his neck.
The death of Superman is a turning point in the DC Animated Universe, as it changes everything for the characters involved. The ending is also very different, with Jimmy Olsen filming Superman's death and Lois Lane becoming a member of the Kent family. The post-credits scenes show that there are others out there who may take up the mantle of Superman.
The original story of this film has had lasting effects on the Superman franchise. It allowed Doomsday to become one of Superman's most well-known and feared enemies.
I liked how the movie approached the Justice League's relationship and the chemistry between the characters. The way they set up to Superman's death was well done. It made impactful both when he died and how the population felt about him in the aftermath. The only issue I had was with the ending, which I felt could have been more powerful without the last two minutes. This was a great piece of animated movie and the first of the DCAMU thay excited me for what is to come next.
Reign of the Supermen
This direct sequel is a continuation from the Death of Superman film and part of the DCAMU film series. With the death of Superman at the hands of Doomsday, Metropolis is left without a protector. Lois Lane and Clark Kent's adoptive parents are still grieving over his death. Lois has taken it upon herself to investigate the new Supermen who have since emerged.
Four new heroes claiming to be Superman have appeared in the months following Superman's death. The Cyborg Superman, The Metropolis Kid (later revealed to be a clone of Superman), Superboy, and the Eradicator. While Lois is initially dismissive of them, she eventually comes to realize that all four have their own merits.
The Cyborg Superman is Hank Henshaw, an astronaut who was transformed into a cybernetic being after exposure to radiation. He is bitter and angry, blaming Superman for not saving his wife's life.
Superboy is a clone of Superman created by Cadmus Labs. He is the most well-known of the four, having been given publicity by Lex Luthor. He is naive and idealistic, but has the same moral compass as Superman.
The Eradicator is an artificial intelligence created by Superman himself. It is single-minded in its mission to protect Superman's legacy, even if it means erasing all traces of Superman's existence.
The four Supermen inevitably come into conflict with one other. But, are able to put their differences aside to stop the Cyborg Superman and Darkseid from destroying Metropolis. In the end, Lois is able to help Superman remember who he is, and he defeats the Cyborg Superman. The three clones of Superman all decide to go their separate ways, realizing that they can never truly take Superman's place.
I liked the story and the mystery of the alien threat. Also, it was great to see that Lois Lane was actually important to the plot.
I would change the animation to be more creative. The style is more realistic and so are the colors. The art style emulates the DC Comic style and I like that. I just feel the animation doesn't stand out as much as the story and writing.
Superman: Man of Tomorrow
Superman: Man of Tomorrow is a 2020 superhero film based on the DC Comics character Superman.
The film follows Clark Kent as he deals with the aftermath of the Battle of Metropolis. This battle saw the death of General Zod and the destruction of much of the city. As he tries to come to terms with what happened, Clark is approached by a Martian named J'onn J'onzz, who reveals to him the truth about his origins and abilities.
Clark is also faced with the task of stopping a new threat, the Parasite, who was created after an experimental device bonded with the DNA of a man named Rudy Jones. The film culminates in a battle between Superman and the Parasite at the Metropolis power plant, which ends with the Parasite sacrificing himself to save the city.
In the aftermath of the battle, Superman finally reveals his identity to the world and vows to protect them as their new protector.
I liked that it was a well-written and intriguing story. The voice cast was also excellent, and I thought the animation style was good overall. There wasn't anything in particular that I disliked about Superman: Man of Tomorrow. However, I do think that the film could have been better if they had chosen to focus on one specific story arc instead of trying to cram too much into one movie. As a result, some aspects of the story felt rushed and unfinished. Additionally, I would have liked to see more development of the supporting cast, particularly Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen.
Superman/Batman: Public Enemies
Superman/Batman: Public Enemies is a 2009 animated film based on the Superman/Batman comic book storyline of the same name. The film features Lex Luthor as President of the United States and Superman's greatest foe, who becomes obsessed with destroying Superman after he is convicted of killing Metallo. To this end, Luthor assembles a team of supervillains to help him, including Captain Marvel, Hawkman, Major Force, and Black Lightning. Batman has his hands full trying to keep Superman in check while also dealing with his own rogues gallery, including the Joker and Two-Face. When a giant meteor headed for Earth appears, Luthor takes advantage of the situation to try and kill Superman once and for all. Superman and Batman must put aside their differences to stop Luthor and save the world from the meteor.
I liked the opening sequence of the movie which depicted a society in collapse and the election of Luthor. I also enjoyed the title sequence and dramatic score. The voice cast was also good, with some well-known names in it. However, I felt that the movie lacks atmosphere or genuine drama. It is still a good cartoon overall but could have been better.
Superman/Shazam!: The Return of Black Adam
Superman/Shazam!: The Return of Black Adam is a 2010 short animated superhero film, directed by Joaquim Dos Santos and written by Michael Jelenic. The film features George Newbern and Jerry O'Connell reprising their roles from Justice League Unlimited as Superman and Captain Marvel who cooperate to battle the powerful Black Adam.
The story is of Billy Batson, a young orphan living in a rundown slum in Fawcett City, who is chosen by the Wizard Shazam to be his new champion. However, Black Adam, the former champion corrupted by power, returns seeking revenge and intent on killing Billy. Superman intervenes and helps Billy escape, but Black Adam corner them both. Billy is able to transform into Captain Marvel and defeat Black Adam. However, at the urging of Superman, he does not kill him.
It was great how they were able to cram so much story into such a short time frame (under 25 minutes). The animation was also well done and the voice acting was good. This is definitely a film worth checking out, especially for fans of Superman and Captain Marvel. This short was James Garner's final performance before his death, as he voiced the wizard Shazam. This is a good short that is exciting, and worth checking out.
So there we have our list of the best Superman Animated Movies. Reviewed for you in a variety of orders with IMDB ratings. Hope you enjoyed reading this guide as much as I enjoyed writing it. Hopefully you enjoy watching the films even more than reading this post. If you're a fan of Superman, you might also enjoy reading the following posts Best Batman Animated Movies or DC Animated Movies.