“Superman Classic” by Robb Pratt

Call it a fan film, a proof of concept, or whatever you want, this one-minute traditionally animated Superman piece by Robb Pratt is a fun new take on the character that draws from classic elements, like Mischa Bakaleinikoff’s music from the live-action serial. Pratt, a Disney veteran, who has worked on features like Tarzan and Pocahontas and series like Kick Buttowski and Kim Possible, explains his reasons for making the film at the end of the video. It’s also nice to see the pencil tests in the credits.

Produced and Directed by Robb Pratt
Starring John Newton and Jennifer Newton
Storyboard by Robb Pratt
Layout/BGs by Brian Woods, James P. Alles, Andy Ice, Robb Pratt
Animation by Robb Pratt, Steven Pierre Gordon, James Baker
Sound Design/Audio Mix by Carlos Sanches
Music from the Superman Serials by Mischa Bakaleinikoff
Superman Created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster

(Thanks, Tim Yoon)

  • Wow, this is a lot of fun. Well done!!

    Thanks for posting Amid

  • snip2345

    Action scenes are great, talking scenes are a bit overly-animated for my tastes.

  • Wow, this is awesome
    I really liked it!!!!

  • Paul M

    More please.

    This would make a great series, in the same vein as ‘Batman the Brave and the Bold’. Love the retro style.

    • Steve Loter

      Great job, Robb!

  • King Zilch

    Absolutely beautiful. I want more!

  • purin

    Now that felt like Superman. I agree that the talking scenes were a little over-animated, but the rest felt so right. The robot stepping on the phone booth was a good touch, and I like how Superman kind of struggled with its weight, like the old Fleischer Superman would.

  • Peter

    What a great surprise to find on a Monday morning. I DID enjoy watching it. Probably more than half as much as you enjoyed making it.

    Very well done.

  • Very nice. You really nailed the “Superman” feeling.

  • I like it a lot. It’s lot of fun and some really nice facial expressions in there. Also I’ll echo what other people have already said: it felt like what a Superman cartoon should feel like. Nice job Robb and crew!

  • Super fun! Definitely felt some touches of Fleischer in there, particularly with the robots.

    I’d love to see more of this as a WB short of a direct-to-DVD movie.

  • Matt

    This is properly brills.

  • Very well done! Congratulations.!

  • ed

    Super Stuff! :D

  • Donald C

    Get this man a series!

  • Great Job! I want to see more

  • ShouldBeWorkin’

    Well crafted and enjoyable but….I really hate saying this again, because it’s so easy to sit on my ass but..
    I don’t understand fan films. If I wanted to do an alternative story for, let’s say, a Star Trek or Super hero, and had the time, talent and $$, I would just call it something else and make it look like something else. I don’t understand working free for Time Warner, Lucas, Viacom or Disney.

    • Generally, I agree with what ShouldBeWorkin’ is saying. For the time, energy, creativity and bucks that are sunk into an independent production, you’re far better off creating an original work.

      An original work becomes an intellectual property that you own and if the Gods of Cartoon-Topia are on your side, might even return your investment someday.

      The only reason that I give Robb Pratt the thumbs up is that he’s totally nailed Superman. His short looks, feels, sounds – hell, it even smells like the Man of Steel. Having said that, I think he should turn his talents to an original work.

      • I totally understand the urge, and have had the urge, to create something featuring my favourite character. If Robb felt he could “do” Superman better than it’d been done before, why not go out and prove it. He was right, too. More power to him.

      • Gtray64

        To Altered Ego:

        Sure, we can move on from Superman. As soon as someone comes up with something better. Good luck with that.
        Trust me, the Next Great Idea isn’t languishing in someone’s sketchpad because the creator can’t get anyone to take a chance on it. There’s too many ways to get your ideas before the public these days.

      • Steve G

        Other than this just being a ‘fan’ film I think this serves as a calling card for the artist. I’ll bet he quickly moves up in status and position because this little ‘fan’ film is getting some attention.

    • It’s a fair point, but consider it this way:

      Animator: Come look at my new original animation project.

      General Public: Who are you and why should we care?


      Animator: Come look at my new original animation project.

      General Public: Who are you and why should we care?

      Animator: I’m the guy who did that animation of a popular existing property that was making the internet rounds last month.

      General Public: That was awesome! Show us what you got!

      Oversimplified? Maybe. But it’s really not that different from doing any short animation that you let people view for free. The downside is that you really can’t do anything else with it without the company who owns the property giving their OK. The upside is that you have a built-in audience who already knows the character and may appreciate you take on him or her.

      • Funkybat

        I’d say you pretty much nailed the best reasons to do a high-quality “fan film.” It something fun and new, yet familiar, and this one especially leaves you wanting more. I haven’t seen such a great animated “teaser” since Rex Steele.

        Something like this can make the difference between “just another reel to watch” and “let’s see it again!” Who cares if you can’t make a dime directly off of it, it shows the artist’s talent and is fun to look at.

      • AltredEgo

        The only thing I’d add is that if you are going to spend your time, money and energy (all of which are limited for just about everyone), the question is do you do something original or do you do yet another ‘version’ of something that’s already been done. Yes, the public knows the character and will respond, but what is that really worth?

        People like it and are more likely to watch your stuff in the future, this is true. However, if you do a good film, people will watch that too…and you OWN it. You can do anything you want with it and perhaps you have something more to express than a regressive nostalgia that’s certainly got a stranglehold on comic books right now, though that is slowly changing.

        The best fan film is always going to be just a copy of something that was done by someone else. Maybe you do a great job, but the credit for the ideas, much of the imagery and symbolism, goes to someone else. Incidentally, that ‘someone else’ got paid, which you did not.

        Rather than re-doing 60-70 year old comic book characters in an endless loop, maybe we should move beyond. Has anyone even considered how relevant a ‘Super-man’ is today anyway? The world has changed a lot since WW2, maybe we should all just move on. Let the companies who have to milk this septuagenarian franchise of every last drop and the rest of us will go make new things for a new generation…without the training wheels of the past.


      • All Star Superman

        Superman, like many myths before him, inspires. Simple as that. This isn’t Justin Bieber, this is a character that clearly meant a ton to the animator. He’s easily one of the most important fictional characters created in the 20th century and has managed to outlive almost all of his peers (except the Bat!). Wether or not WB owns him is secondary to the fact that he once saved a girl from suicide by whispering “You’re stronger than you think you are, trust me.”

      • AltredEgo

        Just for kicks….

        How is superman “important”? Let alone the “most important fictional character created in the 20’th century”?

        When was the last time superman’s mythos was used to parallel a real-world struggle? Unlike a character like “Neo” who I think one could make a strong case for being ‘important’.

        Also, Superman didn’t “save” anyone. He’s never saved a single human being from anything, except his owners from poverty.

        I’m not saying this fan-film should or should not have been made. That’s irrelevant. It exists. I actually happen to like it quite a bit, but if one were to ask me if I thought it was the best use of one’s creative time (and keep in mind, NO ONE asked me for my opinion on the matter), but I’d have to say absolutely not.

        This incessant focus on stuff that has already been made leaves less room for new stuff, since time/money/energy are all finite quantities. We cheat the future when we do this. Our kids will need ideas that have greater relevance to them, which means they should be relevant to US now. Superman, while profitable, increasingly represents a world that perhaps never existed but certainly has passed away at this point. People’s desire for a ‘saviour’ is shifting to a personal desire to save themselves and help others in the process. Our mythology must reflect our own lives and not some corporate fantasy if it is to have real relevance. There is a reason why the first Matrix film became the phenomenon that it was, and it had little to do with 360 degree camera movements. The new superman film had arguably better effects, yet it failed to find resonance.

        To sum up my point: I’d argue that when one dies, a person would rather have left the world something original and personal, something that represented their unique view of the world based upon their own experiences and beliefs, rather than just a really really good fan-film.

        But hey, maybe it’s just me.

      • All Star Superman

        He never saved a single being if art has no meaning, yes, if that is what you’re implying. Now read this:

    • Gtray64

      Well, your point is a good one, but Robb Pratt just loves Superman. The drive to “carry on the legacy” can be just as strong as to create something new. Looking at it another way, you could say that Pratt isn’t doing pro bono work for Warner Bros, he’s working for Superman, cuz let’s face it: Warner Bros, Disney, Fox, and Dreamworks inspire no one to go into animation; Superman, Bugs Bunny, Mickey Mouse, etc. are the ones who do the inspiring.

  • LOVED it!! This is the Superman movie I want to see!

  • Scarabim

    Now that was truly *super*!

    I agree with Donald C – get this man a series!

  • Robert Barker

    It still has that disturbing Superman levitating action. Superman is super strong, but even he can’t just levitate and use no fulcrum whatsoever to hurl things into outer space. He has to physically be on something so he can flex his muscles and expell the energy. And how is this different from all the other sharp angled superhero animation coming from the WB?

    • Gtray64

      Sure he can. He does it all the time. Just like he can save a person falling from a building by flying up to catch them. And shoot lasers from his eyes.
      Come on, now. If you’re going to suspend your disbelief, then suspend your disbelief.

  • Robert Schaad

    I really liked this… a lot of fun. The allusions to the Paramount Superman cartoons were spot on, and it had a lively quickened pace to it. For some strange reason (by way of comparison I suppose), it reminded me of some of Richard Gorey’s terrific work. Regardless of the fact that this may have been done for “free”, it should serve Robb well. Again, really cool.

  • Bruce Wright

    Wow. If this was what Superman was, I’d actually care.

    This reminds me of that art-school made film of the further adventures of Han Solo and Chewbacca. These things are so good they remind you of how life-sapping the “official” stuff is.

    Look at the casual fun of Superman just fighting robots. No pretense. No arty-angle. No sturm und drang. Just fun. It makes it look effortless.

  • Mike

    If the new live-action Superman movie can be half this good, we’re in for a treat.

    Excellent job, Mr. Pratt!

    • Fantomex

      What if the last movie was great, and people like you were too jaded to watch it because it didn’t have what everybody else says that they’re all tired of in movies-tons of CGI SFX and explosions? What if a movie was made like this? You’d all be complaining that it had no great story compared to…. Superman Returns!

      Look, I love this short, but it isn’t necessarily better than Superman Returns, Superman: TAS, or Justice League. It just is a decent short film, and that’s all it should be regarded as (the guy doesn’t even plan to make more.) Let’s not be so dismissive of the present and the future because both aren’t like the past.

  • Huh, this is pretty neat! I like how it actually feels like the appropriate time in history, and how it really does remind me of the television serials and the old Warner Bros. Superman.

  • Iritscen

    More excitement in this short fan film than the whole of Superman Returns.

  • Cyle

    I love it! Thanks for sharing.

  • Disney standard animation. Don’t like it at all.

  • Gray64

    This is the best Superman cartoon I’ve seen in years. Give this man a series already! It’s a wonder how much Pratt and his tiny crew of like-minded folks were able to pull off here, and how polished it looks. Beautiful work, fun, energetic, and completely in the spirit of the character.
    And if you’ll pardon the aside, while I love anime, it’s a bit of a breath of fresh air to see some action animation that doesn’t have a whiff of anime influence in it.

  • Larry Lark

    I’m glad he did this, and I want to see more, but I’d have liked to have seen just ONE ORIGINAL SHOT OR IDEA in this thing.

    Just ONE. One thing.

    Also, giving Clark and Superman markedly different faces is kind of a cheat.

  • Dave Thomas

    Great job, Rob!

  • Dave Thomas

    Fantastic, Robb!

  • ditto with all the congratulations. REALLY enjoyed this!

  • Wow! We really need more stuff like this.

  • eeteed

    some really great stuff! i enjoyed it! much thanks.

  • Great job, Rob! I’m a big Superman fan,too. Wish I had some dough to give you so you could make more of these!

  • I really enjoyed this short, but I wish he had given a tip of the hat to Max and Dave!

  • TJR

    A lot of fun, and you leave us wanting to see more (like any good showman).

    I think a stylized feature length animated Superman film could do well in theaters

    As for those who say why do this?

    Because damnit!

    …..And you never know where it might lead.

  • AaronSch

    Robb Pratt could do for Superman what Bruce Timm did for Batman. Give that guy a budget to work with Warner Bros. I need to see more! That’s the best animated version of the Man of Steel since the Fleischers put pencil to paper and brought the character to life in the 1940s.

    • Aaron Long

      Didn’t Bruce Timm already do that for Superman too though?

  • TsimoneTseTse

    I can hear the inspiration from that rousing Mischa B’s score – the Korngold of Serials!

    My daughters LOVE Kim Possible and would watch this too (w/Daddy) if it was picked up.

  • Someone needs to give Mr. Pratt a good budget and a great time slot. This is a beautiful stuff!

  • jm

    Super Wow!

    Good job Robb.

    Take that to warner and force them to give you the money using Heat vision.

    • Fantomex

      Oh yeah, and then what?

  • Kevin Barber

    Wonderful. The best part is the feeling it captures. That’s a Superman full of wonder and fun.

  • This is actually the best Superman animation, IMHO, after the Fleischer shorts!

    • All Star Superman

      Really? Felt more like kind of a post Krisfaluci thing. For all of their charm, the Fleischer shorts were rotoscoporama.

  • Absolutely outstanding. I was just watching the Fleischer cartoons yesterday!

    I would love to see more of this!

  • Doug Drown

    I agree with John Paul Cassidy. Robb has managed to capture the essence and fun of the Fleischer cartoons in two minutes. A great piece of work!

  • Two thumbs (up, up & away) up!!!

  • That was awesome!

  • That totally killed. Very nice. The technical quibbles listed in above posts are accurate but irrelevant.

    I would have called this SOUP OR MAN or ZOOPERMAN or something, changed the costume colors and insignia just a little, and claimed it was parody to get more income out of the work by placing it with a stock agency later.

  • Ridd

    Blown away. Everything I love about all the best versions of Superman are reflected in this. The robot throw/cam move revealing all the other robots was genius. How’s Superman going to get out of this one? Would make an awesome animated serial before movies. Bravo!!

  • Is there a higher res version any where to see?…and a quicktime so I can tab thru!

    • Use the Firefox browser, and install the DOWNLOAD HELPER plugin. Click the YouTube icon in the lower left of the player above. You will be taken to the YouTube page for the video. Let it load for a few seconds, then pull down the DOWNLOAD HELPER menu. One of the download options will be a 720P HD MP4 version of the cartoon. It looks great, and unlike most YouTube videos derived from 24fps sources, this file is encoded at the proper frame rate.

  • Andy

    This is so full of amazing win on so many levels! Just wonderful!

  • Andy

    My only quibble is that Lois has Shego hair, but it works.

  • Doug Drown

    What I would really, really like to see is a live action, feature-length movie that focuses on Superman as he was originally introduced by Siegel and Shuster in 1938 — before he was invested with superpowers that strain the limits of credulity. He could repel bullets with his chest, but was not completely invulnerable; he could jump huge distances, but couldn’t fly; he could lift or push enormous weights but often had to strain to do so. In other words, he was a human being(!) with extraordinary, but limited, abilities. Place a superhero like that against mad scientists, monsters, space invaders, what-have-you — in situations where he has a real chance of neither winning nor surviving — and you’ve got a plot with some teeth in it. Set it in the late ’30s or early ’40s, film it either in sepia or in comic book colors a la Dick Tracy with Warren Beatty, and you’d have a unique and enjoyable film, in my opinion.

    • Gtray64

      It would be cool to see that, much in the way that it’s cool to read Tom DeHaven’s “It’s Superman,” much as this short is itself cool, but I have to think it’s ultimately a dead end to keep mining nostalgia. Superman’s the Man of Tomorrow, after all. I like the take in Grant Morrison’s All Star Superman, which keeps the vibe of all those Silver-Age Superman stories while taking place “five minutes into the future.”

  • andreas Wessel-Therhorn

    well done Robb. Glad to see you got to fulfill your superman obsession

  • The Gee

    The word “thrilling” comes to mind. And, I agree the “feel” is about perfect.

    But, like some others mentioned, it would have been better for the creator to fudge the characters. There is so much in the piece and yet so little of it is trademarked…or should I say that it would need much changing to make it a different superhero and a different gal pal.

    As a patische it would have worked just fine. No harm, no foul. And, it would be Pratt’s creation.

    And, while the antics, the story and the action are all great. Heck, the whole thing is paced well and there’s so much more good stuff that could be said….but, the character designs are a bit too squat for what they could be. I’ll defer to whatever reason was chosen for those designs but something a bit more Wayne Boring stocky and less big head cartoony would have been cooler to see. But, I say that because it is Superman. If it were Pratt’s own characters then I wouldn’t say a thing about that choice.

    The animation on the designs does work extremely well though. There’s no doubt about that.

  • Jeff Haynes

    Great animation, but the women, especially lois, are really ugly. Would even a cartoon guy find that bug eyed pointy chined, frumpy female attractive? I don’t think so.

    • Richard Bradford

      But thats the beauty of animation. The faces of the female need to have room for expressions and lip sync to work. the jaw movements on lois are really great.

  • Mark Mitchell

    That was freakin awesome. Well done, Rob.

  • Craig

    The animation is nice but everything is to sharp and square.

  • Ricardo

    I like it quite a bit, but IMHO Supes (and Clark for that matter) should be stiffer, not over-animated as it is there.

  • Rob, I dug this. It’s exactly the feeling I miss when I watch any modern Superman projects. I didn’t see the serials but I grew up watching re-runs of George Reeves’ Superman and I loved it. I don’t think it was a waste of your time. I think it’s an excellent piece for your portfolio/reel and it features a recognizable character that people love. This piece will make the Internet rounds (I’ve already shared it on Facebook) and people will see it. Hopefully someone from DC/Warners will encounter it and make you an offer to do a new series (now that Smallville is wrapping up). Best of luck!

  • The Gee

    It’s hard to think it was a waste of anyone’s time to make it. It is more like if you are going to invest or use up time then it would have been better to make something that isn’t owned by someone or something else.

    Isn’t Dreamworks’ “MegaMind” similar to Superman somehow? Similarities aside, it is Dreamworks property. The studio didn’t need to license anything to make it and can obviously do whatever they please with the characters that now exist.

    So, it would have been cool to kill two birds with one stone: Pratt could’ve not only shopped around a new character and had a spiffy portfolio piece (as if he really needs this to add to his portfolio.) and he could have impressed the powers-that-be that he could jumpstart another Superman series.

    At the end of the day though, he would have had something that was his. And, that is what most folks who are nitpicking would want him to have given the effort he and others put into it.

  • No, I loved this short, but AltredEgo, ShouldBeWorkin’ and Steve Schnier have the right of it; he should be doing his own thing, and not be doing Superman at all Let the people at DC handle it; they’re doing a great job with the recent animated shows, and the live movies are shaping up to be great as well.

    @Paul Carhart: Again, no, he shouldn’t be doing any more Superman cartoons, and I for one am getting tired of biased comments about new animation works in TV and the movies like yours. This love of nostalgia is becoming too much, and you need to stop indulging it and try to embrace the present and the future of animation. Go look at some movies and TV shows that are new, see what’s going on, and get a perspective on the present and the future, as AltredEgo has mentioned.

  • Ignatz

    Never mind why he made it. He had to. I wonder HOW he got away with making it and posting it when the WB/DC lawyers charge big money for even a cameo appearance of the Man of Steel in any media. Is he protected by calling it a ‘fan film?’

    • Fantomex

      To answer your question, yes. That little bit of ass-covering helped him a lot.