For those of you that are sick to your fancy underpants with superheroes, you should check out Super, a superhero movie with a difference.
Rainn Wilson plays Frank D’Arbo, a middle-aged loser who works in as a cook in a local diner. He’s married to Sarah (Liv Tyler), a recovering drug addict that he managed to woo when she was on the path to recovery. But when Sarah leaves Frank for Jacques (Kevin Bacon), a local drug dealer, Frank’s life starts to fall apart.
He takes inspiration from a Christian superhero called The Holy Avenger and comes to believe that he’s been chosen by God. Taking inspiration from comic book geek Libby (Ellen Page), he dons a costume to become The Crimson Bolt and takes to the streets to administer a particularly brutal kind of justice leading the police believe that they have a psychopathic vigilante on their hands.
Meanwhile, Libby realises that The Crimson Bolt is Frank and becomes determined to join him in his fight against evil as his sexy sidekick Boltie.
Rainn Wilson is excellent as Frank, who with his sad sack face successfully walks the very fine line between lovable loser and complete psycho while still being a sympathetic character. It’s also good to see Kevin Bacon returning to mainstream cinema (after a stint in X-Men First Class) and he makes an effectively despicable bad guy. But the real kudos should go to Ellen Page whose over-enthusiasm for their spree of violent revenge is both disturbing and laugh-out-loud funny.
Anyone familiar with writer and director James Gunn’s excellent online series PG Porn will appreciate the humour here, which is darkly subversive. There are welcome digs at common superhero tropes (lampooning even the likes of Kick-Ass, which itself was a great deal more violent than most mainstream superhero movies). As such it’s often horrifically violent; if you hit someone with a wrench, there are going to be consequences.
It takes a while to get going and some of the early scenes in particular drag a bit but when it finally gets into its stride it’s a joy to behold. The climactic end battle is as much fun as any recent superhero movie with none of the CGI or headache-inducing 3D frippery and the soundtrack is toe-tappingly good. There are also some amusing Adam West-era Batman special effects which when juxtaposed against the carnage paint another layer of black on to an already dark comedy.
Super is a refreshing take on an oversubscribed genre and worth seeing for its perfectly cast central performances as well as its jet-black humour.