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Superman is dead, having fallen in battle defeating Doomsday. However, that's not the end of the story, as Superman's tomb is empty and four men — a man clad in Powered Armor, a teenaged clone, a ruthless vigilante with a willingness to use lethal force, and a Cyborg — rise up, each one believed to be the resurrection of Superman. But who, if any of them, is the real Superman?

Reign of the Supermen is a 2019 film in the DC Universe Animated Original Movies line and the second part of the story that started with The Death of Superman, set in the DC Animated Movie Universe. In addition to the returning voice actors including Jerry O'Connell as Cyborg-Superman, Cress Williams as Steel, Rebecca Romijn as Lois Lane, Rainn Wilson as Lex Luthor, Jason O'Mara as Batman, Rosario Dawson as Wonder Woman, Christopher Gorham as The Flash, Nathan Fillion as Green Lantern, Shemar Moore as Cyborg, Nyambi Nyambi as the Martian Manhunter, Charles Halford as the Eradicator and Bibbo Bibbowski, Paul Eiding as Jonathan Kent, and Jennifer Hale as Martha Kent, the cast includes Cameron Monaghan (Gotham) as Superboy and Tony Todd reprising his role from the LEGO DC Comics Super Heroes specials as Darkseid (replacing Steve Blum).

This film and its predecessor were rereleased on October 1, 2019 in a Extended Cut Compilation Movie, The Death and Return of Superman.

Tropes in this film:

  • '90s Hair: Superboy's undercut. Luckily, the look has come back into fashion in the New 10s.
  • Adaptation Amalgamation: While mostly based on The Death of Superman, this section does add elements of Forever Evil (2013) with Lex Luthor rescuing the Justice League and saving the world, and — as hinted at in The Stinger and confirmed in Batman: Hush — Luthor joining the Justice League.
  • Adaptational Heroism: The Eradicator is still a lethal enforcer kind of guy, but in the original comic he honestly believed himself to be Kal-El of Krypton, and his use of the Fortress of Solitude to recharge slowed the real Superman's recovery as the Eradicator was siphoning energy from him. In this film, the Eradicator is following its directive to protect Kryptonian life, acting as a guardian for Kal-El and giving energy to him to aid in his recovery. Why the Eradicator decided to go out and incinerate criminals is left unexplored.
  • Adaptational Job Change: The Joan Dale of the comics was a reporter when she wasn't out adventuring as Miss America. The version here, as a Mythology Gag to the Clintons being present in the comics' version of the funeral and referring to Hillary Clinton's 2016 Presidential run, is President of the United States.
  • Adapted Out:
    • Bertron, who was revealed to be the one who created Doomsday in Superman/Doomsday: Hunter/Prey, and Mongul, who acted as an ally to Cyborg-Superman, are written out and their respective roles are given to Darkseid.
    • Two criminals Eradicator faced in the comic (a rapist he disintegrated and a safecracker whose hands he broke) are also Adapted Out as part of his Adaptational Heroism.
  • Ambiguously Evil: G Gordon Godfrey (especially given how he’s often The Mole for Darkseid) briefly appears at the beginning. On one hand he argues that humanity can’t trust the new Supermen due to knowing nothing about them (something that is especially true for Cyborg Superman who is working for Darkseid) and Superboy being under Lex Luthor's control. His message against supers coming across as less hateful and forceful than previous versions of the character, and more concerned about humanity getting complacent, also clouds the interpretation of his character. Urging ordinary humans to rely on themselves and be their own super heroes isn't ignoble and can be read in different ways. On one hand, this could have been a manipulative method to make more people willing to join the Cyber Corps, but it also might have been a coincidence, and it’s likely that that message also indirectly foreshadowed or inspired the heroic actions of Bibbo and the others at the end (although this might be a case of Nice Job Fixing It, Villain). The fact that he isn't seen among Darkseid's followers during his third invasion of Earth and its aftermath in Justice League Dark: Apokolips War adds to the possibility that this version of him was just an ordinary human.
  • Bad Boss: Luthor.
    • He punishes Donovan, who nearly gave Lois the info on Superboy's cloning program, by leaving him brutally beaten and with a broken arm. When he breaks the news to Superboy that only half of his DNA is from Superman, he tells the scientist "You're fired" and unleashes the failed clones on him.
    • Before she realizes it, Mercy is used by Luthor as a Human Shield to protect himself against the Eradicator's energy blast. Fortunately, Superboy is able to get her to a hospital for immediate treatment.
  • Big Bad: Hank Henshaw is in league with Darkseid, who made him into Cyborg-Superman to destroy the late Man of Steel's memory and prepare Earth for an Apokolips invasion. When the real Superman returns from the dead, Henshaw sabotages Darkseid's invasion so he can kill Superman himself, making him the main antagonist for the climax.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Besides Superman's return, Luthor manages to rescue the Justice League from their outer-space exile, and they in turn go on to rescue Metropolis from the invading force.
  • Bolivian Army Ending: Not for the main cast but Donovan is last seen trying to hold off several attacking LexCorp mutants with a pistol and then is heard screaming.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: Henshaw uses Apokoliptan tech disguised as Super Empowerers to turn Metropolis citizens into mindless automatons that nearly open a Boom Tube to Apokolips and - when that falls through - are unleashed to destroy the city.
  • Broken Pedestal: Hank Henshaw used to idolise Superman, but after his fateful accident he's got a grudge.
  • Brought Down to Badass: The genuine article Superman isn't at full strength due to the hasty nature of his awakening, but he's still strong enough to take hits from Henshaw's cyborg-Kryptonian fists and get back up.
  • The Bus Came Back: After 7 years, Darkseid finally makes his return to Earth after Justice League: War, undoubtedly thirsty for vengeance.
  • Call-Back: Diana still loves ice cream.
  • Cast as a Mask: Until he drops the act after Lois tells him she knows he's Henshaw, Jerry O'Connell voices Cyborg-Superman with Henshaw's talks with Darkseid and the scenes after he drops the act being voiced by Patrick Fabian.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Eric, a man Superboy saves from a mugger in the opening montage, is later the first to volunteer to step up to Cyborg-Superman's Dare to Be Badass, while his wife/girlfriend Becky is one of the first to realize there's something wrong with the Cyber Corps when he fails to return her affections after stopping a mugger and doesn't seem to even recognize her at all.
  • Composite Character:
    • Superboy seems to feature the wardrobe and personality of the Post-Crisis Conner Kent, but his overall design is closer to that of the DC Rebirth Jonathan Kent, albeit a teenaged version. As well, he's working with Luthor, similar to how the Matrix Supergirl did during that time.
    • Speaking of Matrix Supergirl, Martian Manhunter took her role as the shapeshifter who made it possible for Superman and Clark Kent to appear together in public to explain Clark's survival.
    • Bertron's role in Superman/Doomsday: Hunter/Prey as Doomsday's creator and Mongul's role as the power backing Cyborg-Superman are both given to Darkseid.
  • Costume Evolution:
    • After spending the entire New 52 movie era in the original New 52 suit (and after wearing the black and silver suit for the final battle here), Superman makes his reappearance donning the Superman Reborn suit.
    • After putting her hair back in a ponytail for the funeral, Wonder Woman is shown keeping her hair down in this movie and going into Wonder Woman: Bloodlines.
  • Cue the Sun: Lois turns the tide in the fight against Henshaw by lowering the solar shields in the Watchtower, giving Superman the solar radiation necessary to get his strength and heat vision back.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: In the first fight between the Supermen, Superboy is thoroughly trounced by Eradicator, and Steel doesn’t fare much better, Cyborg-Superman is the only one who actually manages to fight him on equal terms.
  • Cybernetics Eat Your Soul: The S-Shields given by Cyborg-Superman to the citizens completely deprive them of their personalities and memories as humans.
  • Dare to Be Badass: Cyborg-Superman does so, offering S-shields that can give normal civilians Super-Strength and Flight like himself. It's a deception that turns them into mindless machines. Bibbo Bibbowski does it later to inspire other civilians to fight for themselves since Superman isn't around to save them anymore.
  • Decapitated Army: When Cyborg-Superman is finally killed, his army of cyborg civilians immediately drops dead, no matter where they are. It's a small comfort that they revert to their original human appearances after death.
  • Divided for Adaptation: The film is the second half of a Death of Superman duology that was started with the eponymous film.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Superboy and Lex's "relationship" resembles that of a child star and their Stage Parent.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: After enduring a temporary death, Superman fully returns to life, reunites with Lois and regains his place as the world's premier superhero.
  • Emergency Transformation: Cyborg-Superman claims to be the genuine article given cybernetic implants to survive his injuries, which he also uses to excuse his memory loss. He's actually a creation of Darkseid, made from the corpse of Hank Henshaw.
  • Engineered Heroics: The Parademon attack on the Watchtower launch site was set up to make civilians and the President accept Cyborg-Superman as the real hero reborn.
  • Family Eye Resemblance: Superboy looks exactly like a teenage version of Superman, except for the cold gray eyes of his human DNA donor, Lex Luthor.
  • Fatherly Scientist: Dabney Donovan is implied to be one to Superboy, contrasting his portrayal in the comics. He speaks gently to the boy, and lets him watch television programs Luthor doesn't approve of.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • When the Eradicator tells Superboy and Cyborg-Superman that "there is only one Superman", he's not only rejecting Cyborg-Superman's claims that he's the Superman, but he's actually referring to the fact the real Superman is alive.
    • When Parademons attack the launch site of the Watchtower, Cyborg-Superman takes a long time to get moving, only reacting specifically to save the President. The whole thing was an engineered PR stunt to get rid of the League and make him seem like the real hero.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: Darkseid's role, being the one responsible for Doomsday and for Hank Henshaw becoming Cyborg-Superman.
  • Guardian Entity: The Eradicator's true nature is a Hard Light hologram tasked with protecting and nourishing Superman with ion radiation while his spaceship brings him back to life.
  • Happily Adopted: Superboy's fate, same as in the comics. As of the epilogue, he has been renamed Conner, and is living as a normal boy with Ma and Pa Kent.
  • Hard Light: Eradicator is revealed to be a hologram of this type.
  • Heel Realization: After the grisly demise of Dabney Donovan, Superboy starts realizing his "father" Lex Luthor is not a nice man. He takes Donovan's final words to heart - "Your father is a... hard man" and promptly quits LexCorp.
  • Hijacked by Ganon: The Cyborg-Superman, the main threat of the movie, ultimately turns out to be working for Darkseid.
  • Hologram Projection Imperfection: Part of the reveal that Eradicator is not everything he seems to be.
  • Human Shield: When the Eradicator shows up to eliminate Lex for his crimes, Lex thanks Mercy then tosses her in the path of the first beam before running like hell.
  • Hypocritical Humor: Steel at one point complains about the Eradicator taking up the 'S' shield and dispensing his own brand of justice. Superman just gives a pointed look at Steel's own costume. Steel meekly replies, "I'm just saying..."
  • Insignia Rip-Off Ritual: Superboy does it after Lex has Dabney Donovan killed and he realizes his "father" is evil.
  • Irrational Hatred: Henshaw, having gone crazy after his transformation, blames Superman for his wife's death, even though he had nothing to do it. Darkseid does brainwash him into thinking Superman failed him, but even after shaking off the mind control, Henshaw still blames Superman.
  • "It" Is Dehumanizing: Luthor makes it a point to talk about Superboy as though he's a fancy tool for him to use, profit off of and, if need be, discard. Given that Superboy looks to be on the skinny side, it's easy to assume his "home" at LexCorp doesn't include regular meals.
  • Karma Houdini: Lex somehow escapes punishment for engineering Donovan's death, even though it was this incident which caused Superboy's Heel Realization and made him quit being LexCorp's stooge.
  • Lawful Stupid: The Eradicator, unaware of the intricacies of human understanding about law and social order, unceremoniously appears at Lex Luthor's party to execute him on the spot for the simple fact that he is a known criminal.
    Lex Luthor: What do you think you're doing?
    Lex Luthor: Okaaay, well, here's another one: Why the hell are you here?
    The Eradicator: Lex Luthor is a known criminal. Criminals must be eradicated.
  • Likes Older Women: Superboy hits on Lois. Lois is... less than enthused.
    "Well. That was revolting."
  • Machine Monotone:
    • The Eradicator only speaks in an even, matter-of-face tone because he's the semi-physical form of an A.I.
    • A more humorous instance comes near the movies end, when J'onn disguised as Superman described how he "found" Clark Kent, much to the real Clark's bemusement.
  • Misplaced Retribution: Hank blames Superman for the death of his wife because he wasn't there to stop Doomsday from destroying their space station, when the one responsible is Doomsday's creator, Darkseid.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • The Eradicator's design features elements of the DC Extended Universe version of Superman, including all of his hair being slicked back and the design of the "S"-shield.
    • The Cyborg-Superman throws a missile into outer space, looking very similar to a scene from Superman: The Movie where Superman throws one of the missiles Luthor hijacked into space.
    • Superboy tends to speak in Totally Radical terms, which an irritated Lex attributes to his watching sitcoms from the 90's. His original debut, of course, was in the very same era.
    • Mercy Graves ending up being Lex's sacrificial lamb is becoming a regular thing. At least he didn't shoot her outright for knowing too much or blowing her up as part of a plan.
    • Wonder Woman is (again) given the famous "spinning" from the live-action television series.
    • One of Superboy's fangirls resembles Miss Martian's human form from Young Justice (2010).
    • Superboy relates his malformed clones to the real Superman as a "bunch of bizarros". The ones we see look far removed from the eponymous clone from the comics, though.
    • Near the end, Superman and Lois does the iconic kiss from All-Star Superman.
    • The final scene of Superman flying up into Earth's orbit bears a strong resemblance from the iconic scene from the original live-action movie.
    • During their fight on the Watchtower, Clark rips out a cable and shocks Cyborg-Superman with it, just like Supergirl did (with more success) to her more powerful clone in Justice League.
    • During the montage of the various Supermen making headlines, the photos of Steel, the Eradicator, and the Cyborg are designed to resemble actual covers from the original Reign of the Supermen comic story: Steel's from Man of Steel #22, Eradicator's from Action Comics #690, and the Cyborg-Superman's from Adventures of Superman #503.
    • At the end of the film, Superman has now switched to an outfit resembling his second one from the DC Rebirth era.
    • President Joan Dale is named after the early superheroine Miss America (formerly of Quality Comics before they were purchased by DC).
    • Clark at one point says "Darkseid Is..." before being interrupted.
  • Never Found the Body: Hank's wife was found in the wreckage of the shuttle that Doomsday crashed into, but Hank's body was not. Coupled with Cyborg-Superman leaving a rose on her grave, this allows Lois to deduce his identity.
  • Never My Fault: Similar to his comic book persona, Hank Henshaw blames Superman for his transformation into the Cyborg-Superman and the death of his wife Teri. Lois calls out his reasoning as complete rubbish. During the movie's final battle, Henshaw has the gall to claim to Superman's face that Lois' impending death will be ALL! (HIS)! FAULT! despite being the one who put them all in danger in the first place.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed:
    • President Dale looks like Hillary Clinton, who in real life lost the 2016 election to Donald Trump. This also serves as a Mythology Gag of sorts, as Hillary had appeared in the Death of Superman comic arc as the First Lady to her husband Bill, the President at the time.
    • Lex also stands in front of a sign that says "Make Metropolis Safe Again" when introducing Superboy.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Luthor doesn’t take Donovan showing Superboy the truth about his origins very well.
  • Not So Above It All: Batman has a moment of this when Superboy is brought as extra protection for the president, and Green Lantern puts him in the sights of a ring-construct rocket launcher.
    Green Lantern: (cheerfully) I have the shot.
    Batman: I say take it.
  • Not Quite Dead: The Justice League appears to be killed by a Boom Tube crashing on top of them during an assassination attempt, but are instead warped to an unknown corner of the galaxy to fight off an endless horde of monsters and be out of the Big Bad's greater scheme.
  • No Warping Zone: The strange location the League is sent to somehow prevents Cyborg from using his built-in Mother Box to Boom Tube them back home. Lex has to activate one he scavenged after Darkseid's failed invasion to open a portal from Earth to their location, allowing them to return.
  • Oh, Crap!: Even Lex Luthor is shocked when the Boom Tube swallows up the Justice League.
  • The Only One Allowed to Defeat You:
    • Henshaw turns on Darkseid and sabotages his invasion after learning that the real Superman is Back from the Dead. He proceeds to rip the Apokoliptan interface and Mother Box from his body and prepares to fight the Man of Steel himself.
    • Darkseid was setting up for this himself after learning Doomsday failed to finish the job.
  • Perma-Stubble: The real Superman has this after he's revived, and keeps it all the way through the final showdown; it isn't until the epilogue that he becomes clean-shaven again.
  • Power Cable Attack:Superman stuns Hank Henshaw by shoving a loose cable into his mouth.
  • Powered Armor: John Henry Irons becomes Steel in this movie.
  • Pragmatic Villainy: Lex is genuinely helpful in thwarting the evil plot in the climax of the film, which he insists is because nothing about said plan is beneficial to him.
  • Projected Man: Eradicator.
  • The Reveal: Doomsday was, appropriately, a "doomsday weapon" created by Darkseid to kill Superman as the first stage of a large-scale invasion.
  • Revenge Before Reason: Hank Henshaw is insanely determined to make Superman suffer as much as possible before finally killing him. When he overcomes Darkseid's mind control, he immediately orders the converted cyborg civilians to destroy Metropolis as part of his revenge. During the movie's final battle, Henshaw delays killing Lois several times and refrains from immediately killing a weakened Superman, eventually giving both of them the opportunity to finally defeat him.
  • Rocket-Powered Weapon: Steel's hammer has a thruster on the head to enhance his swings.
  • Rule of Symbolism: When Cyborg-Superman rips an implant out of his head to break Darkseid's control, blood spurts on the floor and forms a rough approximation of the S-shield.
  • Self-Deprecating Humor: When Lois calls John Henry Irons out on being the Man of Steel, she notes that she's rubbish with secret identities, and she still figured him out (calling back to the prior film).
  • Shout-Out:
    • Superboy calls Cyborg (Vic Stone, not Cyborg Superman) "Mr. Roboto".
  • Single Tear: One came out of Hank Henshaw after he was killed by Eradicator. Probably thinking about his wife.
  • Smash the Symbol:
    • Cyborg-Superman tears off the S-shield on his chest towards the climax to reveal a Mother Box beneath it. He later tears that out, too, revealing Darkseid's omega symbol behind it.
    • For a heroic example, Superboy tears the LexCorp logos from his jacket after getting sick of Luthor controlling him.
  • Something Only They Would Say: Lois invokes this, as she knew Superman better than anyone, and knows what to ask the Supermen to determine which one is the real thing: "What was your last secret?"note . Her conversation with Cyborg-Superman convinces her that he's not the real thing, but it also clues him in to how close she was with the real Superman, and makes him intend to use that as part of his revenge.
  • Sophisticated as Hell: Steel has a tendency to speak this way.
    Steel: Excuse me. Mind if we... kick your ass?
  • Spared by the Adaptation: The action remains in Metropolis and, since Mongul was Adapted Out, Coast City is spared his and Cyborg-Superman's wrath. As well, the Eradicator doesn't die at the end.
  • Stealth Sequel: Granted, it's already in the same universe, but this and The Death of Superman are ultimately this to the first full movie in this universe, Justice League: War, as Darkseid is revealed to be the one responsible for both Doomsday and Cyborg-Superman.
  • The Stinger: The Justice League, with Superman, discuss in the Watchtower how the events of the movie are the most brazen attack by Apokolips since Justice League: War and propose mounting a counterattack. They're then joined by a jovial Lex Luthor wearing his Super Friends outfit.
  • Swiss-Cheese Security: Steel's hideout has some pretty questionable security, to say the least. Lois breaks in very easily.
  • Taught by Television: Superboy seems to have learned all his social graces from TV reruns, given how old he is. It's left the boy a wee bit stunted, since he doesn't know how to respond to Lois offering her hand to shake, nor that flirting with her is inappropriate.
  • Tempting Fate: Henshaw taunts Lois that Superman isn't around to save her. Cue Superman piloting his rocket into Henshaw. Likewise, Henshaw wanting Superman to open his eyes so he'll be Forced to Watch Lois's death? Heat vision taking off his cybernetic arm.
  • Totally Radical: Superboy's 90's flavoured speech patterns are explained as one of his creators letting him watch 90's sitcoms.
  • Truer to the Text: Much like its predecessor, it's set to be a more faithful adaptation than the very first DC Universe Animated Original Movie, Superman: Doomsday, despite the New 52 stylings, including the presence of Steel, Superboy, Cyborg-Superman, and the Eradicator, the former of whom was outright Adapted Out and the latter three of whom were merged into a single character for Doomsday.
  • Violently Protective Girlfriend: A more subdued version than usual but Becky is one of the first to join Bibbo in facing the Cyber Corps due to recognizing it's done something bad to Eric.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Aquaman is absent this time around, as is Shazam again.
  • Would Hurt a Child: When Superboy falls short of expectations as a hero, Luthor considers and nearly goes through with giving him a lethal injection and starting fresh. Given Superboy's nature as a clone, it also counts as What Measure Is a Non-Human?.
  • You Have Failed Me: Lex kills the scientist running his Superboy project for twice failing to keep his mouth shut.

Alternative Title(s): The Reign Of The Supermen