Blogger Mark Hughes attempts to tackle this very question on his Reel Estate blog and makes a pretty convincing case, albeit a case against, but at least he really considers it first. It’s a funny article, but he only rules out the possibility of being as awesome as Batman. What if we lower the bar? Could a person be The Crimson Bolt?
We have all wondered what super powers we might choose to be endowed with, or what we might look like clad head to foot in spandex (just me?) But what if you couldn’t have super powers? What would your weapon of choice be? How do you even make a costume? What about a catch phrase?
Welcome to the world of Super.
Well, Batman he isn’t, but bat-shit crazy he certainly is. Frank wants to save his estranged wife from the evil clutches of a psycho drug-dealer, and decides to become a super hero. He does a good job of it too. The Crimson Bolt might be lacking super powers, but that doesn’t stop him making some pipe-bombs or beating Crime into submission with a wrench. Between him and his kid-sidekick, Boltie (Page), they’re surprisingly formidable opponents.
Sharp directing and strong performances help rescue Super from mediocrity. Rainn Wilson’s performance as the socially awkward Frank, might seem familiar to fans of the American version of The Office. But he plays it with such skill, sensitivity and understanding that he is able to conjure real drama, and manages to elevate the plight of this social reject to more than just a shabby caricature. He produces some surprisingly tender moments, showing both comedic and dramatic “chops.”
As Libby/Boltie, Page is hilariously psychotic. She steals every scene she is in, peddling quite happily on this darkly comic bicycle. While roles like this aren’t going to generate Oscar buzz, she definitely provides some hilarious and, well, unforgettable moments.
Even Kevin Bacon shows signs of sharp comic timing and provides a few laughs as the psychopathic heroin dealer, Jacques.
On one hand, Super is a ridiculous parody of the super hero genre, that might provide some welcome relief from the steroid-inflated blockbuster summer screenings. On the other, it has a serious moral centre.
It’s this morality that makes Super a strange experience. The Crimson Bolt is not a psychopath, he displays a very deliberate moral compass, and although he’s not afraid to dish out a little bit of ultra-violence, he is also fighting for a just cause. At times, it’s difficult to understand exactly what Super is; times when it suddenly delivers a serious message and leave you unsure whether to laugh or cry. These moral moments are difficult to reconcile with the juvenile; slapstick; and sometimes grotesquely violent parts of the film, and they might mean that Super struggles to really find its audience.
Director, James Gunn, said that Super is a film about “one man’s relationship with God, and his journey to fulfil his side of that relationship,” but it’s also a film about a home-made super hero who violently pipe-wrenches criminals to death, and who’s crime-fighting catch phrase is “shut up, Crime.” It’s hard to imagine that the audience who might want to see that first film, will come out to watch the second. Harder still to imagine that they might enjoy it.
To wrap up then, Super is an unusual; dark; and funny super hero parody that pokes fun at the summer blockbusters. Its slick production and cast make it great popcorn-munching, Friday night entertainment, that will have you laughing and recoiling in equal measure. It’s a bit like a prostate exam - surprising and uncomfortable, and leaves you with the awkward feeling that you enjoyed it a more than you expected to...or is that just me, again?