Wednesday, May 9, 2012

"Mystery Men" (1999)

In contemplating the super hero movie buzz this summer one is perhaps reminded of 1999’s “Mystery Men.” (Then again, maybe not!) It is an ambitious mess of a satire, not only of comic books and heroes, but of the whole subculture that revolves around them. More recently films like “Kick Ass” (2010), “Defendor” (2009), and “Super” (2010) have played with the ideas of superheroes realistically. Mystery Men is a different sort of movie. Rather than speculate on the sanity of people trying to be heroes in the real world, “Mystery Men” plays with the nature of heroism in a world where true super heroes and villains could exist.

In Champion City, there are real super heroes, or at least one super hero: Captain Amazing. But the Captain’s problem is that he is too good. He has taken care of all the really big problems of the city and his corporate sponsorships are in danger. In an effort to once again increase his appeal, he conspires to have one of his arch villains released. The only problem is that this time around the bad guy wins.

Meanwhile, there are a handful of wannabe heroes in town. They get wind of Captain Amazing’s predicament and decide to save him.

Along the way we explore some of the finer points of the superhero genre. Like, the way that these characters are so thematically driven. These are not real world problem solvers, they are story elements. The main reason super heroes do not exist in the real world is because they are symbols. Heroes do exist it’s just that in the real world they make a difference not a statement.

This story is a bit rough around the edges. There is some really dark humor here, but there is also some truly funny and insightful comedy. It is not quite a guilty pleasure, but it might be worth a look for those who are fans of the comic book genre.

1 comment:

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