All-Star Superman - the beloved story inspiring Superman: Legacy

All-Star Superman comic art
(Image credit: DC)

One of the biggest pieces of news coming out of James Gunn's recent slate of DC Studios announcements is the reveal of Superman: Legacy, a film written by Gunn himself which will launch a whole new Superman movie franchise.

But inside the Superman: Legacy announcement were hidden some clues about what DC fans can expect from the film, including its apparent strong ties to the classic comic story All-Star Superman.

Those ties were hinted at through the inclusion of art from the story in the film's announcement, and a follow-up tweet from Gunn indicating directly that All-Star Superman is one of Superman: Legacy's main inspirations at least in tone and visual style, and perhaps in story as well.

All-Star Superman is widely considered one of the best Superman comics of all time, so many fans are already excited about what its use as a direct inspiration for Superman: Legacy could mean. 

But for those who haven't read it yet (what are you waiting for??), here's what you need to know about All-Star Superman, the comic inspiring the upcoming new Superman movie Superman: Legacy.

What is All-Star Superman?

All-Star Superman #10 cover art

(Image credit: DC)

Launched in 2005, All-Star Superman is a 12-issue limited series comic by writer Grant Morrison and artists Frank Quitely and Jamie Grant. Set outside of normal continuity, the story covers a huge cast of Superman's most famous villains and supporting characters, focusing on the so-called "12 Labors of Superman."

In the story, Superman becomes so overcharged with solar radiation after a daring rescue of deep space astronauts that his cells begin to decay, meaning that Superman is dying. As he fails to find a cure, he also undergoes 12 missions meant to leave the world a better place after his death, taking the nickname the "12 Labors" from the classic myth of the 12 Labors of Hercules.

Across the series, Superman encounters Lex Luthor, Bizarro, and many other villains, and forges an even closer relationship with Lois Lane than ever before, all against the backdrop of a world where every single one of Superman's adventures, even the silly ones from the '50s, are considered canon and have an influence on All-Star Superman.

As a result, All-Star Superman feels a lot like a rundown of Superman's history as well as the final days of his life, leading all along to a bittersweet finale which seems to set up a future for Superman even after his impending death - something that could be a particularly interesting theme in Superman: Legacy, as implied by its title.

Why is All-Star Superman so important?

All-Star Superman comic art

(Image credit: DC)

In the years since its release, All-Star Superman has become a kind of go-to comic for people who want to get into Superman, even more than stories that retell versions of his actual origin. Beyond that, several pages and scenes from the story have gone viral on their own over the years as examples of what Superman should and could mean to people when presented in the right way.

For those reasons, All-Star Superman has become a beloved example of the idea of Superman at his very best, a one-stop crash course in all things relevant to the Man of Steel, including how he relates to many of his most famous foes, and his connection to super science and sci-fi.

At the time All-Star Superman was released, the DC Multiverse technically didn't exist in the contemporary continuity of the era, so All-Star Superman also offered readers a look at a side of Superman that was not typically seen on the page at the time, perhaps even paving the way for the current concept of an Omniverse where every DC story counts as part of continuity in some way, shape, or form.

How will All-Star Superman influence Superman: Legacy?

All-Star Superman comic art

(Image credit: DC)

As opposed to Zack Snyder's Man of Steel continuity, which proved very serious and heavy, the idea of bringing the influence of All-Star Superman to film signals that DC Studios is looking to change its approach to Superman in movies.

For one thing, it seems unlikely that Superman: Legacy will present an origin story for Superman, and may in fact show a Superman who is much closer to the end of his career.

On the other hand, writer James Gunn has pointed out that his Superman may be younger than the ones we've seen - so could Superman: Legacy pick up on the other themes of All-Star Superman with the idea that there's another, younger Superman somewhere waiting to take the place of the original in the event of his death?

It wouldn't be unprecedented for Superman to die in movies - which also means DC might not go there again so quickly. 

But there may be a way to split the difference while embracing the concept at the heart of All-Star Superman, which is showing exactly what Superman means to the world, introducing fans to many of the key players in his world, and offers up an ending that hints at bigger, unprecedented opportunities for more stories in the future.

All-Star Superman is definitely on the list of the best Superman stories ever.

George Marston

I've been Newsarama's resident Marvel Comics expert and general comic book historian since 2011. I've also been the on-site reporter at most major comic conventions such as Comic-Con International: San Diego, New York Comic Con, and C2E2. Outside of comic journalism, I am the artist of many weird pictures, and the guitarist of many heavy riffs. (They/Them)