Superguy: Behind the Cape 2000
This review was partially decided by my fine patrons over at Patreon where each month I post a poll where they decide what movie I review during the latter half of the month. Or in this case, the early part of the next month. If you would like to see more of these, join in for just $1 a month. This movie is one that I found several years ago in a random clearance bin, put it in my DVD collection, and constantly put off watching it until now. Which is honestly a shame because despite the low production value I actually quite enjoyed this mockumentary. The acting and graphics are low budget and the humor is nearly nonexistent, but the world building and discussion surrounding this fictional Superguy was absolutely fascinating to me. It falls somewhere between Superman and Unbreakable with not even one tenth of the budget or talent, but there’s something worthwhile in there.
The mockumentary centers around the life and times of Superguy, who is basically an analogue of Superman with a much more limited powerset. Basically, he’s just strong, bulletproof, and flies. He even gets frustrated with the comparison to Superman later on in his career as well as questions from fans on who would win in a fight, him or the Incredible Hulk? We go through his early life with his parents in Littletown through his superhero career after his father sold the rights to his persona to a corporation on through his downfall as public opinion turns on his mistakes and private lifestyle. There are some similarities to Superman as well as plenty of changes. The myth of being an alien is there, and was the basis of a Hollywood movie, but the reality is approached as just a random happenstance of genetic mutation that lies in his brain functions, almost Unbreakable style. That line is also helped as the actor that plays Superguy is the same actor who plays his father in the archival footage.
What this film does best is how it manages to create this complete world centered around this fictional character and treats him as if he were real. It’s filled to the brim with action figures, “popular” songs in varying genres, logos, various talk shows, news articles, endorsement deals, PSAs, and plenty of other things. They go through his home life interviewing his parents and sister and we get a clear picture about how his father was a potentially abusive alcoholic and his son took after him to a certain degree, except the father plays it off in a completely different way. There’s also a great moment with an extended interview with a Barbara Walters analogue where he initially revealed his secret identity to the world complete with the Clark Kent glasses motif. We even get some low quality footage of his secret identity working as a suicide hotline operator. It moves on to Superguy taking up the superhero identity full time as it becomes more like a celebrity persona complete with his own 911-esque hotline, attendants, and plenty of other details. They even have an extended interview with one of his biggest fans who collects his merchandise.
Unfortunately, the biggest problem with all the time spent creating this world is that there isn’t nearly as much time to spend on the humor or the drama. It’s a mockumentary but there’s not much overt humor outside of vague moments of things just not being quite right. There’s also some humor to be had with the badness of some of the music, but that doesn’t entirely seem to be intentional and more a symptom of a low budget. Nearly every actor plays their role straight and throughout the mocumentary they address some compelling questions about what would happen if a superhero actually did exist in the real world. Some of these questions have been asked in better ways before, like how bystandards could sue superheroes for injuries sustained during rescues which would be done quite well in the Incredibles which came out four years later.
All in all, despite not being the first, or even second superhero mockumentary that has been reviewed on this site, it does a lot of things right. It hits a lot of the typical documentary beats with the archival footage, interviews, and especially the little animated moments that are supposed to have been made specifically for the documentary. It’s a tough line because literally everything in this movie was technically made for the documentary, but most of it was also intended to look like it existed prior to this film. That and the overall scope of this Superguy mythology that they created is absolutely fantastic. The problem is that it doesn’t coalesce into an interesting movie. The overall narrative arc of Superguy works ok, but it’s a little on the light side, and there’s not enough comedy or drama to keep the interest of the audience despite it being less than an hour and a half long. If the film’s budget was doubled or tripled, it could have been something fantastic, but it’s still an impressive achievement as is. Until next time, this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.