James Gunn’s Super is definitely going to draw comparisons with cinema hit Kickass. After all they’re both about normal people, with delusions of grandeur to become crime fighting superheroes. But, if you through the ultra violence and swearing of Kickass was a bit much for the pallet, then strap yourself in Bambi and prepare to delve deep into the psychosis of a madman.
Super involves a similar situation, Frank D’Arbo (Rainn Wilson) is left by his wife (Liv Tyler) to run off with a local drug dealer (Kevin Bacon) as she falls back in to her addiction. Attempting to save her culminates in a desperate and pathetic altercation outside a nightclub. Hitting rock bottom, Frank has a moment of clarity in which God touches his mind (literally) and points him in the path towards becoming crime fighting hero “The Crimson Bolt”. As the Crimson Bolt he starts to fight crime one step at a time, smashing it in the face with his wrench. Joined along the way by the even more psychotic self appointed sidekick, Boltie (Ellen Page).
Super is incredibly dark in it’s humour and very graphic in it’s violence. Frank’s absolute stance on justice provides some oddly hilarious moments; such doling out a beating on par with that of a drug dealer for simply cutting in line at the cinema. “You don’t cut in line, You don’t molest children”, Frank screams. Also his use of weapon, that is simple, yet effective in the almighty wrench, lends to a daunting, perverted type of funny. If you’re currently furrowing your brow in disapproval, then I can tell you now..yes it is very a marmite type of humour.
Equally, his sidekick Boltie provides laughs in the completely out of place thrill that she gets from dishing out “justice”, again without distinction of the differing levels of wrong-doing, that results in someone beaten to a pulp for keying a car. Her erotic obsession for the Crimson Bolt also leads to a grimly farcical scenario in which she pretty much ends up raping Frank.
In comparison Kick-Ass almost seems like a look through rose coloured Hollywood glasses. There is an atmosphere of realism in the lo-fi brutality of Super, we linger on injury untoward others and actually question the ethics of it all. This would be Garth Ennis vs. Mark Millar in terms of comic book writing style and there is definitely elements of Troma inspiration from James Gunn in the sheer oddity and detail of violence.
Unfortunately through, for all it’s talking points, it takes Super a while to get it’s feet off the ground, as it labours to set up the character of Frank. It also falters, straying from it’s established realistic world, towards a divergent situation where it simply cannot compete against the large scale kinetic action of Kick-Ass.
It still deserves to be seen, as it is an enjoyable film in it’s own right for ulterior reasons. How could you not love the catchphrase, “Shut up, Crime!”?