Mount Rushmore of Independent Superhero Movies
When I saw the blogathon going on over at Two Dollar Cinema called the Mount Rushmore of Movies, I thought it was something that could be fun to join in on. I’ve posted my top 10 superhero movies so I didn’t really want to go that route, nor did I want to do something like choosing the Mount Rushmore of Marvel or DC. But since I recently watched Defendor, I thought I would honor a certain type of movies that I really enjoy and they all seem to fit together quite nicely. While I am calling this the “Mount Rushmore of Independent Superhero Movies”, as the most expensive out of the four movies was a moderately budgeted $30 million while the other three clock in at a much lower budget. They also all share the fact that none of the heroes actually have super powers, and they all have some type of mental or social disability. They are also all black comedies involving some dark subject matter while still trying to inject some humor or at least some levity to the entire situation. And on top of it all, I greatly enjoy all four of these movies and would like more people to see them, as only one of them were a commercial success.
I’ll get the first and most recognizable one out of the way first, and that is Kick-Ass directed by Matthew Vaughn. While the story is supposedly about Dave Lizewski, the two characters that really steal the show out from under him is Hit Girl and Big Daddy, the two that are much closer to being superheroes than Kick-Ass ever will. While the budget is pretty huge compared to the other movies on this list, it is used extremely well and makes this $30 million movie look like it should have cost $70 million or more. It’s stylish, it’s funny, and it garnered a sequel that was less so. Easily deserves a spot on this monument.
Next up, I’ll take on the movie that I’ve seen the most recently and that is Defendor. Out of all four of these movies, it’s the one with the least amount of humor, or at least all of the humor is much more subtle and less laugh-out-loud. It also has probably the most sympathetic out of all of the characters in Woody Harrelson’s Arthur Poppington. He’s basically what would happen if Forrest Gump became Batman. He’s slow, but he’s determined, he’s confident, and he has the right set of morals to lead him on his way and to make everyone else around him that’s on the right side of the law look up to him and/or look after him as much as they can. He may not have the best costume, or the best name, or even the best set of weaponry, but he is Defendor.
The third spot on this movie monument goes to James Gunn’s Super, starring Rainn Wilson as the Crimson Bolt who is very socially awkward and has a vision from God after his wife leaves him for a drug dealer to become a crimefighting vigilante named the Crimson Bolt with a giant pipe wrench as a weapon and the catchphrase “Shut up crime!” This is probably the most bizarre out of the movies as his vision includes things like a hentai tentacle slicing his head open, a third act with some massive violence and gore punctuated by 60’s Batman style onomatopoeia balloons and one of the strangest woman on man rape scenes. It is a very dark movie, and the humor is very twisted in places but if you’re a fan of the weird and twisted, this movie fits the bill nicely.
And the final place in the Mount Rushmore of independent superhero movies goes to Special starring Michael Rapaport. Unlike the other heroes in this list, there is nothing inherently wrong with Les at the beginning of the movie. He’s a perfectly normal, perfectly boring parking enforcement officer with no real mental problems to speak of aside from being generally unsatisfied with his mediocre and uneventful life. His superhero persona is completely brought upon by this drug study that he partakes in, and as the movie goes on, his drug-induced delusions of superpowers and comic book plots happening all around him grow stronger while he himself is becoming more battered, paranoid, and manic. Like Defendor, Les is a very sympathetic character because he’s not really in control of what’s happening to him, but it’s also quite funny to see someone run through a wall in their perception, but also see them run into a wall, bounce off, get back up, and pretend that they just ran through a wall.
To wrap up, this is a monument to movies that I think more people should see, if I wanted to throw another honorable mention out there, I’d toss it to the original, live action Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie, which was for a while one of the most successful independent movies of all time, and doesn’t involve a vigilante without any super powers. If you haven’t seen all of these movies, and happen to come across one of the less successful ones, give it a chance, you might be pleasantly surprised. And finally, I’d like to once again thank Two Dollar Cinema for the fun blogathon idea. Until next time, this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.