STEEL'S BIG PLAY
When Superman died in the comics, John Henry Irons took up his mantle after being saved in the past by the Kryptonian. He forged his Steel costume using hammer and fire, the old school way, and then hit the streets to fight crime. His main goal was to remove old weaponry he had created that was now falling into the hands of gangs, while also taking the opportunity to inspire youths with his socially conscious superheroics.
Here, Steel is approached in a different manner. His costume is actually fragmented into unique segments of armor, similar to Tony Stark's Iron Man, and after Lois susses out his identity, both begin to investigate Superman's death like true detectives. They figure out Lex's cloning scheme, Hank's deception and, most importantly, Steel actually tracks down the Fortress of Solitude and finds a revived Kal-El. He isn't Superman's reincarnated soul, as Lois thought in the books, but a science genius who helps her uncover the truth about the other pretenders and why Superman was in stasis.
THE ERADICATOR'S MISSION
The Eradicator was tech that was repurposed to passionately protect everything that belonged to the planet Krypton in the comics, including Kal-El. This led to a feud, with Superman eventually tossing the sentient being into the sun. When Kal-El died, though, the Fortress' robots reactivated the Eradicator and turned it into a soldier. It fed off Superman's energy while he lay in his regeneration chamber, allowing it to masquerade as a fully-powered Superman. In the story's finale, Eradicator's redemption would come full circle, as it sacrificed itself, taking a Kryptonite blast from Hank to save Superman.
Here, the Eradicator doesn't have a sinister background or any past rivalry with Superman. It's simply tech that was converted to be a humanoid guardian in Superman's stead. However, the biggest change comes in the film's finale, where Superman uses the Eradicator as a virus stored in a Kryptonian crystal, plugging it into Hank's head to delete his presence from the cyborg's body. In other words, the Eradicator isn't just a war machine, it's a digital construct that can be uploaded anywhere, anytime and acts as an artificial intelligence to carry out Kal-El's will.
In the books, the Fortress robots gave Superman a mech suit when he awoke after being fed information about the disarray that was happening in his absence. He made his way back to Lois and Metropolis, united with Steel and Superboy and then went after Hank and Mongol for destroying Coast City. When the dust settled, he was left with no choice but to punch through the cyborg's chest, killing him so he could assume his mantle once again.
The animated movie takes a different spin, with Superman coming back after the Eradicator almost kills Steel at the Fortress, thinking he came to assassinate Kal-El. Superman does return with his black suit like the comics, but he doesn't rock any mech armor, instead using his trusty arrival vessel to get back to the action. The biggest change, however, comes in the fashion he regains his powers. As opposed to Eradicator converting a lethal Kryptonite blast into yellow energy to replenish Kal-El, like in the source material, here it's Lois who opens the panels on the Watchtower while Kal-El battles Hank, allowing the yellow sun sun to return all of Superman's powers, officially making him the Man of Steel again.
Directed by Sam Liu, Reign of the Supermen stars Cameron Monaghan, Jerry O’Connell, Cress Williams, Patrick Fabian, Rebecca Romijn, Nathan Fillion, Rainn Wilson, Toks Olagundoye and Nyambi Nyambi. The film is now available on Digital HD, with a Blu-ray release on Jan. 29.