The movie Superman: Purple Son is an enchanting Elseworlds premise. As a substitute of rising up on a Kansas farm, Kal-El grows up on a farm within the Soviet Union. When he reveals his powers to his childhood good friend Svetlana, she tells him he should use them for “the state” and to assist the folks. And so, Superman flies with not a crimson S on his chest, however the sickle and hammer.

Primarily based on, however not totally trustworthy to, the Purple Son comedian miniseries, Superman: Purple Son depicts a conflicted Superman who tries to rule over his folks the most effective he can. All through his reign, he joins forces with a sympathetic Surprise Girl and battles a terrorist Batman whose mother and father didn’t die rich within the streets, however impoverished in a gulag. His key antagonist stays Lex Luthor, who on this timeline is married to intrepid reporter Lois Lane.

Superman: Purple Son isn’t boring, providing loads of challenges because it races throughout the a long time. Although its socio-political commentary might not all the time be excellent, it does an affordable job of displaying the weak spot of each American capitalism and Soviet communism. Each international locations have massive gaps between their richest and poorest. Superman sneers at capitalism when talking with Lane. She’s a profitable reporter relationship an Elon Musk-type billionaire. When she espouses on American freedom, she does so from a spot of maximum privilege that Superman’s fast to level out. How “free” do you’re feeling if you don’t dwell in an enormous home and trip in fancy automobiles? And whereas America’s most poor might dwell on the open streets, Superman is shocked to be taught that his personal nation has been hiding and exploiting its destitute. His actuality is shattered, so he takes it upon himself to create a utopia the place nobody suffers.

On this quest, Superman is eternally torn. He’s not simply performing generic hero duties. He’s helming a nation, consistently making an attempt to do the best factor on such a big scale that bloodshed appears unimaginable. It’s maybe unimaginable for him to be a real hero, and in Purple Son, he isn’t.

If there’s an ethical compass right here, it’s the movie’s three core ladies: Lois Lane, Svetlana and Surprise Girl.

Svetlana is the primary particular person to whom Superman reveals his powers. An individual as highly effective as Kal-El doesn’t must grow to be a hero. They may grow to be a super-villain, positive, but it surely’d be simpler to be neither—to solely use your powers after they suited you. However Svetlana by no means imagines an alternate. She doesn’t even take into consideration the issues she may have the ability to obtain or purchase with a robust finest good friend. As a substitute, she instantly tells him he should go and use his powers to assist others.

Lois Lane, although not excellent, is there to test each Superman and Luthor when their egos get the most effective of them. She gained’t stand for both man’s the-ends-justify-the-means bullshit.

And Diana/Surprise Girl could be the solely hero in Purple Son whose alignment is all the time on the “good” aspect of the chart. Initially enamored with Superman’s imaginative and prescient, she repeatedly muses if it’s not the type of presidency, however males who’re the true issues. (She does dwell on utopian island of ladies, in any case.) She refuses to compromise her personal values—particularly, peace and fairness—to protect her friendship with Superman and even her ambassadorship with “the world of males.” She by no means lets energy, tremendous or in any other case, sway her. She all the time sees Superman for who he’s or for whom, at instances, he fails to be.

The thought of a less-than-perfect Superman is what makes Purple Son so attention-grabbing to me. I used to be by no means an enormous Superman fan rising up as a result of he appeared so healthful and apple pie. I a lot most well-liked the darker adventures of Batman and Gotham Metropolis to “reality, justice, and the American Manner.” However in Purple Son, the American Manner is flawed. And, it’s straightforward to see how a distinct life makes Superman a extra nuanced character.

He makes ethical decisions the Superman we all know by no means would. He does issues you may’t stand behind, claiming they’re for a larger good. And if you don’t have an ideal hero, your villains grow to be shades of grey, too.

Although the ending finally performs it protected and candy, it’s Purple Son’s fascinating premise and imperfect characters that make it actually well worth the watch—particularly in immediately’s divisive political atmosphere. I’m simply glad our world leaders don’t have laser eyes and tremendous power.

Superman: Purple Son is now accessible on 4K Extremely HD Blu-ray Combo Pack, Blu-ray Combo Pack and Digital HD. 

Juliet Bennett Rylah writes about horror comics and the darkish aspect of superheroes for Try extra of her writing on WeLikeLA, No Proscenium and IGN, and make sure you observe her on Twitter at @JBRylah.