A film in the DC Universe Animated Original Movies line, based on the comic of the same name. When Lex Luthor manages to poison the Man of Tomorrow with an overdose of solar radiation, a lethal effect that not even Superman can overcome, Superman decides that it is time to look back and wrap up his life. There are villains to overcome, answers for the woman he loves and his legacy to look to. However, Lex is still planning something and there is a villain hiding just out of sight...Written by Dwayne McDuffie, the film was released to home media on February 22, 2011. Voice actors include James Denton (Desperate Housewives) as Superman, Christina Hendricks (Mad Men) as Lois Lane, Matthew Gray Gubler (Criminal Minds) as Jimmy Olsen and Anthony LaPaglia (Without a Trace) as Lex Luthor.
This movie provides examples of:
Adaptation Distillation: Follows the plot of the comic, but drops several characters and storylines, such as Doomsday and Bizarro, and Superman's Twelve Challenges.
Arc Words / Book Ends: "Doomed planet. Desperate scientists. Last hope. Kindly couple." is said both in the opening narration and by Luthor in the conclusion.
The Atoner: Robot Seven, and Lex Luthor at the end of the film.
Clark Kenting: Of course. In addition to the presence of glasses, when he appears as Clark he slouches, his hair is ruffled, he can not walk two feet without tripping over something and his voice is markedly different. These features are frequently mentioned within the various Superman comics, and were included in all live-action films, but this is the first animated feature to include them.
He's no longer pretending, however, near the end when his sickness is becoming overwhelming.
Cover-Blowing Superpower: When Clark is interviewing Luthor in prison and Parasite breaks free, he needs to rescue the guards and protect Luthor, all without being seen doing superhuman feats or suspiciously disappearing from view.
Cursed with Awesome: The solar poisoning that is killing Superman has also granted him even greater abilities, tripling his strength at a minimum (There is simply no technology available to test his strength beyond that range). It might be killing him, but at least he can do a lot before he goes. However, about halfway through the film this plot-point is reversed without explanation, as he explains that transporting the bottled city of Kandor to its new planet will take longer due to his condition. This could be hand-waved as his poisoning outpacing the overcharge, but there's no excuse given.
First Time Feeling: When Lex Luthor takes a Super Serum and gains all of Superman's powers he begins to see everything, including the very nature of existence and the makeup of the universe. The realization of how things fit together is one of the key factors in the only Heel Realization he has in any adaptation.
Foreshadowing: Lois comments that a future Superman looks kind of like her father. You don't say...
Half-Human Hybrid: Superman explains to Lois that, even if he survived the solar poisoning, they can not have children because they are of two different species. However, there is a scene where Superman talks to his future descendant and Lois comments how he looks like her father, then the final scene reveals that Lex Luthor has mapped Superman's genome and developed a way to merge it with a human's. All they would need is an ovum from a healthy human woman...
Heel Realization: Lex Flippin' Luthor. In one of the only occurances of the trope in any incarnation of Luthor in all Superman media, Superman points out that Luthor could have saved the world years ago if it had really mattered to him and Luthor admits that he was right. He then goes on to accept impending execution, and finally does something to help the world by giving the blueprints to Superman's DNA.
Luthor:(wide-eyed sadness) We're all we've got.
If I Wanted You Dead...: Variation. Lex claims that, if his invitation to Dr. Quintum to visit him in prison was part of an escape attempt, he would already be gone.
Intrepid Reporter: Lois Lane still has impressive reporting skills, but in this film it is Clark Kent that is actually in the dangerous situations and reporting on the life-or-death struggles.
Ironic Echo: At the end of the movie, Lex Luthor repeats the opening narration, providing new implications for story's overall themes.
"Doomed planet. Desperate scientists. Last hope. Kindly couple. Superman."
It's All About Me: When Parasite attempts to absorb Superman's powers when he was interviewing Luthor under the guise of Clark Kent, Luthor never realizes that he is not the target.
Jerkass: Atlas and Samson try to woo Lois when she's on a date with Superman when they know for a fact he's dying. Even if part of it was a Stable Time Loop thing, talk about kicking someone while they're down.
Sense Loss Sadness: For a few brief moments, Lex Luthor saw it all and understood everything, the very nature of the universe... and then it all went away. This, more than anything else, lead to the only Heel Realization that he has had in any incarnation.
Super Serum: Superman develops a serum that will grant a normal human all of his strengths and abilities without any of his weaknesses. However, it only lasts for twenty-four hours, and it needs to be specifically tailored to an individual person's DNA.
However, it can make a normal human permanently Superman if used while being conceived.
Villain Respect: Odd version where the villain doesn't realize it. During his interview with Clark Kent, Luthor several times compliments him, on his writing ability, integrity and other positive traits.
What Happened to the Mouse?: The fight between Bar-El and Lilo and Superman causes a huge tear in the Moon that seems to be widening, thus threatening to destroy it. In the comic book, we see Superman fixing the Moon by using bridges he brought from Earth. In the movie, this isn't shown (probably because it would be rather silly), so the ultimate fate of the Moon is left uncertain.
Your Days Are Numbered: The premise of the film is Superman dying from solar poisoning and spending his remaining days doing all that he can to finish his life and leave the universe better for his passing.