It’s hard to believe that a quarter of a century has gone by without a new Superman cartoon on television. The last series to focus primarily on the Last Son of Krypton was Superman: The Animated Serieswhich aired from 1996 to 2000 and was part of the popular DC Animated Universe along with Batman: The Animated Series, Static shockAND Batman Beyond. While he went on to appear in subsequent DCAU spinoffs and guest star in the two Batman reboots that followed, the closest we’ve come to a Superman series in the 21st century was Krypto the Superdogin which he is a secondary character, and Legion of Super Heroes, in which a costumed young Clark is a member of an ensemble. In 2008, both shows were canceled and DC and Warner Bros. Animation began prioritizing direct-to-video features aimed at an older audience of comic book readers.
Last week, this long drought finally ended with the premiere of My Adventures with Supermana new animated series airing on Adult Swim and streaming on Max. My Adventures with Superman it’s delightful, a lighthearted take that infuses the fantasy of the magical girl anim genre without sacrificing story or character identity. It is friendly to the uninitiated viewer and non-comic reader and is suitable for all ages. It is, essentially, the polar opposite of most of the Superman media produced for mass audiences over the past decade, which has leaned in a surprisingly menacing and brutal direction.
A Superman story that stays true to the origins of the characters
Jack Quaid (The boys, Star Trek: Lower Decks) plays the voice of Clark Kent, a bright boy from Kansas who together with his best friend and roommate Jimmy Olsen (Ismel Sahid, Jury duty) is about to start an internship at the metropolitan newspaper Daily Planet. Clark is a sweetheart whose extraordinary extraterrestrial abilities are a closely guarded secret, but when someone’s in trouble, he can’t help but lend his strength, speed and flight to those in need, as anonymously as possible. But, when he is spotted rescuing his crush, fellow intern Lois Lane (Alice Lee, Zoey’s Amazing Playlist), from stolen military robots, Clark finally faces Superman’s alter ego, costumed defender of Metropolis.
The broad strokes are familiar, and if the goal of this series is to introduce Superman to a new generation of fans, that’s exactly how it should be. However, there is also a lot of specificity My Adventures with SupermanLet’s face the character and his mythology. For starters, by the end of the two-part premiere, Clark is only beginning to understand his origins. The crashed spaceship he arrived in is slowly expanding beneath the soil of his adoptive parents’ farm, and its holographic representation of his father Jor-El speaks only in the Kryptonian language, which Clark cannot understand. That means Hell will have to gradually uncover the mystery of its doomed home planet, and could allow the storytellers to surprise us with a twist to Krypton’s history or legacy in the future.
My Adventures with Superman | Exclusive clip | CC
MAwsThe film’s premiere also sets up an unconventional series of ongoing villains, one drawn from the larger DC universe but not automatically associated with Superman. This implies that the new series could distinguish itself by simply not crossing Superman’s expected gallery of villains. (So far, Lex Luthor is nowhere to be found.)
Above all, however, what distinguishes My Adventures with Superman from his peers and predecessors is his pitch. While it will surely entertain an adult audience who still dabbles in cartoons aimed at young people, this is, unassumingly, a cartoon for children. And, frankly, thank goodness. Over the past 20 years, teens and adults alike have had no shortage of film adaptations of Superman designed to make Big Blue more of an adult, like DC’s other flagship character, Batman. Unfortunately, instead of opening up a wider spectrum of interpretations, almost all of them have followed one of two paths: Superman either becomes evil or dies.
A Superman for all seasons (and audiences)?
Stories about Superman going deep and becoming a fascist dictator used to crop up occasionally in the dark future or Elseworlds history, but in the 2010s, this has become a concern in Superman stories outside of comics. Both films by Zack Snyder Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and the Injustice The video game series speculate that Lois Lane’s murder would inevitably transform Superman into a ruthless monarch, one that only Batman and his allies could dethrone.
In DC’s line of animated direct-to-video films, things haven’t looked much brighter. Since its release in 2008, the film line has given us two separate adaptations of his brutal death at the hands of Doomsday, three unrelated stories of a Superman who rules the Earth with an iron fist, and another in which he is a tortured prisoner who vaporizes his captors with his heat vision. There have been exceptions and points of levity, such as an animated adaptation by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitelys Stellar Supermanand The CW’s live-action Superman & Loisbut in general, this was the era of Angry Red Eyes Superman.
In the same time frame, Batman has been adapted for the screen in a wide variety of different tones, from the dark and violent Dark Knight Trilogy and Arkhamverse to those colorful and suitable for children Batman: The brave and the bold animated series or The Lego Batman Movie.
Why My Adventures with Superman is worth watching
My Adventures with Superman | OFFICIAL TRAILER | swimming for adults
Both characters are over 80 years old and have been revamped and reimagined in hundreds of different ways by thousands of creative voices. And, while Superman deserves as many different iterations for mass audiences as his pointy-eared counterpart, I’d argue that My Adventures with Superman it captures more of what’s essential to the character than any non-comic book adaptation in years.
He is a man who Should be a jaded outsider but is instead an open hearted person who is here to help. He can throw himself down with the best, but that’s not why he’s here. As Christopher Reeve said in a 1987 television interview, Superman is, first and foremost, a friend. And, as the title suggests, My Adventures with Superman invites young and old audiences to get to know him a little better.
My Adventures with Superman now streaming on Max.
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