Super  (2010)

By now we've already heard the story of the "regular guy becomes a superhero" plenty of times, and we've also heard the "real effects of comic book violence" arguments too. People have complained that movies like "Man of Steel" or "The Avengers" show the destruction of entire cities, without really acknowledging the devastation of the public, or the victims that suffered at the hands of both the villains and heroes. "Super" came out the same year as "Kick Ass", but for whatever reason I had never heard of it until I came across it on Netflix. There are a few similarities, but the heart of the two stories is vastly different.

Frank Darbo is a schmo. He was born a schmo, grew up a schmo, lucked into marrying a beautiful-but-troubled woman...and that's about it. When his wife gets involved with a drug dealer and ends up abducted by him, Frank snaps and decides to fight crime himself as The Crimson Bolt. He researches comic books, befriends the quirky MPDG who ends up becoming his (psychotic) sidekick, and seriously injures a lot of people.

Current movies that look at superheroes do occasionally reference just how insane it would be to see this sort of thing in real life. If a dude in a costume and mask is running down the street chasing another person, you wouldn't think "oh wow, that must be a hero chasing a bad guy!", you would think "what's wrong with those two idiots? is this some YouTube bit? oh my god did he just smash him with a wrench? call the cops!" This is the reality of the world of "Super" - a masked vigilante beats up criminals, ranging from drug dealers to molesters to people who cut in line at the movies.

I wanted to like this movie, but I just couldn't bring myself to really enjoy it. I love director James Gunn (Guardiands of the Galaxy, Slither), I like Ellen Page and Liv Tyler, I usually like Rainn Wilson, I love Kevin Bacon...but the sum was less than the parts. The jokes weren't funny; the serious scenes didn't affect me; the violence (while I have no issue with the goriness) just didn't match the tone of the rest of the movie. I get that it was supposed to be a dark comedy, a satire of the way we ignore violence in superhero movies while in reality people would be getting shot and disfigured. Still, it just never felt quite right, like it couldn't decide how much humor to bring to this depressing life, or how much they should kick a guy while he's down, or how much we should like or dislike the protagonist.

[Celluloid Hero] gives "Super" a 4 out of 10.




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