Superman Unbound is straight to DVD. This often means it’s not very good. In fact, I’d say that the reason we haven’t had Justice League yet is because Warner Bros. have spent so much time on animating straight-to-DVD Superman stuff.
Now, Superman Unbound has a strange title. At first, I assumed “Unbound” referred to a version of the story that experimented with established events, in a “what if… ?” scenario. But the trailer reveals it’s based on the graphic novel Superman: Brainiac, which I haven’t read. Brainiac is a highly-intelligent cyber-being responsible for the shrinking of the Kryptonian city Kandor, which is then placed in his ship relative to the centre, reserved for him. Which is the first thing to like about Superman Unbound – the production design. The moment Superman enters, and sees Brainiac’s specimens, suspended from the ceiling based on their astronomical position was really cool stuff. And that’s really what it’s all about: cool stuff. Brainiac’s villain dialogue might be very enigmatic, but it’s mostly cool. The numerous fight scenes might always end with Superman using his heat vision (again), but it’s cool stuff. And the urban destruction from Brainiac’s ship, as Metropolis shrinks, and then returns to its original size, is cool stuff.
Superman Unbound‘s status as straight-to-DVD changes the context of a review. This isn’t for mainstream audiences, this is specifically for fans. The whole point of Superman is that he fights would-be oppressors. This version of that tale gives him the goal of rescuing, very much like an old Captain Marvel serial, Metropolis from the clutches of the dastardly Brainiac. Which is an imaginative way of making the same thing at least look different.
Overall, Superman Unbound should definitely stick to being non-mainstream. The fight scenes are the best part of it. By far the best bit, and I’d be surprised if nobody else feels affected in the way I did. was where Superman is talking to Zor-El, and they both realise that being driven nuts by feelings of love is the same everywhere. So it’s worth it for that.
Superman Unbound: generic fights will satisfy fans. 5/10