THAT’S NOT ROTTEN! Before ‘Guardians of the Galaxy,’ James Gunn Deconstructed Costumed Vigilantes With ‘Super’

Costume SuperCentre Canada

super-4

The past few times I’ve driven by LAX, I have seen a massive advertisement for Guardians of the Galaxy emblazoned upon the side of building. Every time I see it I can’t help but think, “That’s for a James Gunn movie.” For those unaware, as a director, James Gunn’s films have never been massively successful. As a screenwriter, Gunn has penned the successful Dawn of the Dead remake and the Scooby Doo films. His directorial debut, 2006’s Slither, is a delightfully absurd horror-comedy. Even though Slither was well reviewed, it grossed less than $8 million at the domestic box office. His follow up, 2010’s Super, was even less enthusiastically received. Super grossed around $325,000 at the domestic box office, however, the film only opened on 11 screens nationwide. The most theaters it played in a given week was 39, which happened in its 5th week in release. To put that in perspective, Guardians is opening on an estimated 3,800 screens. Despite the lack of commercial success, one could see that Gunn was a unique talent, and, thankfully, Kevin Feige of Marvel saw the same thing and gave Gunn a budget equal the GDP of small South American nation.

Why Super was so unenthusiastically greeted still boggles the mind. Over the years Slither had gained a cult following, and Super continues some of the motifs from Gunn’s debut film. Both films show Gunn’s understanding of how to use violence for maximum effect, shifting from the comically grotesque to genuinely horrific. The films present Gunn’s roots with the no-budget schlockmeisters of Troma, but avoid the trappings of shock for schlock’s sake. With Super, Gunn makes a film that is as funny as it is tragic, a twisted deconstruction of vigilantism.

super-1

Frank Darbo (Rainn Wilson) is a sad sack schlub who has had 2 perfect moments in his life – marrying his wife, Sarah (Liv Tyler), and pointing a police officer in the direction of a fleeing criminal. Sarah is a recovering addict and soon relapses, eventually leaving Frank for the company of Jacques (Kevin Bacon), a prominent drug dealer. Plagued by visions since childhood, Frank believes he’s been touched by the hand of God and decides to become a costumed vigilante. While searching for inspiration through comic books, Frank strikes up an unlikely friendship with Libby (Ellen Page), an enthusiastic comic shop employee. Frank eventually constructs his own costume and begins patrolling the streets as the Crimson Bolt. Violently beating wrongdoers with a wrench, the Crimson Bolt gains a bit of local notoriety. Libby discovers Frank’s costumed alter ego and pressures him to take her on as his teenage (even though she’s 22) sidekick, Boltie. Armed to the teeth, the Crimson Bolt and Boltie decide to stage a raid on Jacques’ home in an attempt to save Sarah.

The film is based on the idea that anyone who dresses up as a costumed vigilante must be pretty insane. Super draws natural comparisons to Taxi Driver, Frank being like a less badass, dopey Travis Bickle. Much like Taxi Driver, Super follows Frank’s slow descent into madness, his unwavering belief in his own righteous wrath. Unlike Bickle, Frank believes he is God’s emissary, using his violence as a means to dispel demons. As the Crimson Bolt, Frank draws more inspiration from a TV Christian superhero, the Holy Avenger (Nathan Fillion), than he does from traditional costumed vigilantes like Batman. Even the final raid on Jacques’ compound is reminiscent of the ending of Taxi Driver, only Super’s climactic shootout is much more violent. Like Bickle, the Crimson Bolt thinks he’s making a positive difference while making people he cares about witness horrific violence.

super-2

What makes Super such an excellent work is the manner with which it subverts numerous clichés. Frank sees himself as a hero that must restore Sarah, the broken woman, but his attempts to save her have grave consequences. Whether attacking random criminals on the street or Jacques’ goons, the Crimson Bolt resorts to a brutality that always leaves his heroism in question, like when he assaults a man for cutting in line. The gore effects are grisly enough to keep the consequences of violence in perspective even when playing for comedic effect. The film also features one of the oddest rape scenes in modern cinema, simultaneously illustrating the inherent fetishism of cosplay without ever being exploitive or cheap. The film goes through drastic tonal shifts between laughs and revulsion, from cheering on violence to being aghast at its effects.

Though he’s only made a total of 3 films, Gunn has already assembled a group of regular players who appear in his films. Sean Gunn (his brother), Michael Rooker, Nathan Fillion, and Gregg Henry have appeared in all of his films, including Guardians. Super features cameos from Freaks and Geeks’ Linda Cardellini as a pet store worker, Rob Zombie as the voice of God, and comedian Steve Agee as the cantankerous comic shop owner. There’s even a brief cameo by Troma guru Lloyd Kaufman.

super-3

Hopefully, Guardians of the Galaxy is a success for Marvel and Gunn. His name has been floated in rumors for Avengers 3, but it looks like he’ll be doing Guardians 2 first. What I really hope is that this newfound success leads to more people discovering the unique early works of Gunn’s directorial career. Aside from the Ant-Man fiasco, the hiring of Gunn for Guardians is one reason I have faith in the future of Marvel movies. Slither is a gross out good time. Super is a superhero film unlike any other. It’s currently streaming on Netflix. Watch it and think about how Marvel gave this filmmaker the reigns to their most risky film to date. It’s pretty crazy, maybe even super.

//

YogaOutlet.com

Leave a Reply

Animation/Anime Interviews Animation/Anime News Animation/Anime Reviews Film/TV Interviews Film/TV News Film/TV Review
Red Sparrow
Better Dead than ‘Red Sparrow’

There’s usually an element of sexiness with spy stories. They hide...

Ryan Coogler and the Cast of ‘Black Panther’ Discuss Bringing Wakanda to the Screen

After years of anticipation, Wakanda is finally making its way to...

Ready Player One Come with me
New ‘Ready Player One’ Trailer Hints at a World of Pure Imagination

We’re living in an odd age where nostalgia has taken over...

Enabled Gaming Gaming News Gaming Reviews
This Bulb Takes Awhile to Light Up – Yu-Gi-Oh! Wave of Light Review

Celestial fairies and counter traps take a while to yield results...

6.0/10
The Dynasty Alters Its Course – Dynasty Warriors 9 Review [PC]

The long-time franchise changes the formula and ventures into a big...

gaming pcs
Prebuilt Gaming PCs: A Better Option in 2018?

A fellow member of the gaming master race, Founder of Easy...

Comic Creator Interviews Comic/Graphic Novel News Comic/Graphic Novel Reviews Manga News Manga Reviews Novel/Novella Author Interviews Novel/Novella News Novel/Novella Reviews
8.5/10
Ninja-K #4: Much Ado About Ninjas

NINJA-K #4 Written By: Christos Gage Color By: Andrew Dalhouse Art By: Juan...

BLACK [AF]
‘BLACK [AF]’ is Imperfect yet Full of Potential

Comics Twitter convinced me to bet on BLACK, the series about...

Celebrate the 50th Anniversary of ‘The Prisoner’ with Jack Kirby, Gil Kane, and Titan Comics

The Prisoner has been hailed as television’s first masterpiece; a surreal...

Apparel/Personal Maintenance News Apparel/Personal Maintenance Reviews Entertainment Product News Entertainment Product Reviews Food/Beverage Reviews Hardware News Hardware Reviews Mystery Box News Mystery Box Reviews
WWE Slam Crate Starts the Year Off Right

In just two weeks time WWE’s Royal Rumble not only continues...

January’s Loot Crate is Here!

January is a month where resolutions are made, hopes are extended...

Yu-Gi-Oh Kaiba
Yu-Gi-Oh March 2018 Will Be Great For Your Yu-Gi-Oh Kaiba Cards

Yu-Gi-Oh March 2018 will be great for your collection of Yu-Gi-Oh...

Arena Football Automotives MMA, Kick Boxing & Boxing Professional Wrestling
Epic Fighting 37 Full Results

Epic Fighting 37 took place tonight from the Four Points Sheraton...

Bellator 193 Full Results

January 26, 2017 – Tonight Bellator returned to Pechanga in Temecula,...

Bellator 192 Full Results including the Welterweight Championship and Heavyweight Grand Prix

January 20, 2018 – Tonight, airing for the first time on...

Adult Continuity Comics on the Can Cultural Junk Drawer Future Comic Rock Stars Is That Racist? Revisiting the Reviled THAT'S NOT ROTTEN! The B-Reel The Cantina Scene This Week in Crowdfunding What the HELL Did I just...?
Magic Hat Brewing Teams-Up with Dropkick Murphys for an Ale as Smooth as Their Sound

Vermont’s Magic Hat Brewing Company teams up with Boston’s Dropkick Murphys...

Cultural Junkdrawer ASSult on AVN pt 2: The Future!

Pt 2 of my AVN 2018 Recap! With Lloyd Kaufman, Pancakes...

Adult Continuity Presents: ASSult on AVN Pt 1: Sex Dolls and Concrete!

A firsthand account of the 2018 AVN show and ANE.

Event News Event Reviews
dough bar
The Dough Bar and the Protein Donut

Created by Marquez and Ondrea Fernandez, The Dough Bar Doughnuts are...

truedark
Improve Sleep and Performance with TrueDark

TrueDark by Biohacked aims to improve your sleep, performance, and health by...

Pyramid Escape Room Review
Escape Room LA’s The Pyramid Escape Room Review

Overview of The Pyramid Escape Room The Pyramid Escape Room, Escape Room...

Gaming Uncensored Toon-In-Talk
Gaming Uncensored: Year in Review 2016

A look back at the year in gaming. Related

Gaming Uncensored Roundtable: December 2016

December’s roundtable discusses story in games with Chad, Josh, and Spencer....

Gaming Uncensored: Podcast #349

Jamie reflects on some of his time with the HTC Vive....

Music Interviews Music News Music Reviews
Rising Country Music Artist Kaylin Roberson Talks About her work with St. Jude

Kaylin Roberson is a singer, songwriter and pianist from Raleigh, North...

MTV Unveils Performers for ‘TRL Live’ on October 3rd at 3 p.m. E.T.

NEW YORK, NY (September 26, 2017) – MTV today announced that...

Long Beach Punk Band ‘Spider’ Rocks ‘It’s Not Dead’ Festival

Spider is a heavy hitting punk band out of Long Beach,...

%d bloggers like this: