Kick-Ass from Jane Goldman and Matthew Vaughn set the gold standard as an independent movie about “ordinary” superheroes with no super powers. Super follows this same path with Rainn Wilson (from the US version of The Office) as Frank, a short-order chef at a local eatery whose wife turns to drugs and becomes dependent on her dealer with whom she eventually leaves Frank. Frank is beside himself.
After watching a TV show about a God-fearing superhero (The Holy Avenger, played by Nathan Fillion) who preaches the word of Jesus, he eventually starts visting the local comic book store and meets Libby, the sales clerk, who reluctantly sells him a copy of The Holy Avenger comic. After an exceptionally brutal and weird moment in which Frank’s brain is exposed and literally touched by the finger of God, he decides to become The Crimson Bolt – his catchphrase, “Shut up crime!”
After some painful first experiences at crime fighting, he decides to tool up. He starts smacking the hell out of criminals with a wrench. He goes too far at one point by clobbering a man pushing into a queue (and his girlfriend when she tries to intervene). After lying low for a while, he builds up confidence to try and take on the drugs gang that’s taken his wife. It goes horribly wrong, and he ends up hiding at Libby’s housewarming party where he eventually reveals to her that he’s The Crimson Bolt. Libby is over the moon – it turns out she’s been wanting to get into the vigilante game herself and styles herself as “Bolty”. She also confesses that she likes Frank a lot.
Unfortunately Bolty is a rather violence-happy and almost kills a potentially innocent man. Frank and Libby argue over this, but they eventually resolve their differences (by having sex) and then proceed to take on the drug gang. This is where things get really messed up.
Super is a brutal film. Much more so than Kick-Ass. It is funny, it is dramatic, it is very, very dark. It takes on Kick-Ass and wipes the floor with it. The ending is bittersweet. Does Frank get his wife back? Yes and no. It is – in short – a film that I’ve enjoyed more than any other in it’s genre and – like God Bless America – is one of my favourite films I’ve seen this year. Kick-Ass 2 is not going to come anywhere near the level of insanity and pathos.