The best superheroes boast amazing origin stories and spectacular powers: Peter Parker gets his powers after a radioactive spider bites his hand. The Incredible Hulk absorbs gamma radiation. But the superheroes fighting crime in Matthew Vaughn’s Kick-Ass have very little going for them, outside of their homemade costumes and exaggerated courage. That got us thinking about other less-than-powerful saviors who’ve graced the screen over the years. Here are ten heroes who fall just shy of being super.
10. Batgirl (Alicia Silverstone), Batman & Robin
Silverstone’s version of Batgirl is hands down the lamest part of Joel Schumacher’s gaudy film. Alfred’s niece stumbles (badly) during a motorcycle race, then bumbles her way into the Batcave by hacking a password-protected disc, mostly because she feels left out. All that would make sense if she were one of Scooby-Doo’s mystery solvers, but as a member of the Dark Knight’s entourage? He should have sent this kid packing.
9. Jefferson Reed (Robert Townsend), The Meteor Man
Sometimes you just end up in the wrong place at the wrong time. Take Reed, a mild-mannered school teacher who’s crushed by a glowing, green meteorite as he walks home one evening. On the upside, Reed inherits an array of superpowers, from flight to X-ray vision. On the downside, he’s too chicken to use any of them properly. Meteor Man? More like Mediocre Man.
8. Mr. Furious (Ben Stiller), Mystery Men
Really, all of the Mystery Men members qualify for this list, as all of their supposed superpowers are lame. But since Stiller’s perpetually annoyed Mr. Furious ascends to a position of leadership in this ragtag squad, he earns the right to represent the gang, and he fits right in with this bunch. Case in point: his claim to fame of lifting a city bus, before admitting that the driver “kind of had his foot on the accelerator, but just in the beginning, just to get it going.”
7. Darryl Walker (Damon Wayans), Blankman
Nerdy Walker is mad as hell at the criminal element that’s destroying his neighborhood, and he isn’t going to take it anymore. Blankman probably started as an idea for In Living Color, though it’s unlikely this one-joke pony would’ve inspired any laughs. Blankman even inspires other lame heroes in the film to take action, from Midget Man (Tony Cox) to the Other Guy (David Alan Grier). Right: we feel safer already.
6. Bluntman and Chronic (Kevin Smith and Jason Mewes), Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back
The only dynamic duo on this list, Bluntman and Chronic are the costumed alter egos of infamously lazy stoners Jay and Silent Bob. Little is known about any powers they possess, but both display surprisingly remarkable lightsaber skills, which come in handy when they’re attacked by Cock Knocker (played, sadly, by original Jedi warrior Mark Hamill).
5. Captain Flash (Chuck McCann), The
McCann’s the polar opposite of a superhero. He’s a portly, chain-smoking projectionist, wasting his days away in a neighborhood movie theater. But to escape his doldrums, McCann daydreams he’s silent-film superhero Flash, who changes costumes in a phone booth (how original!) and battles an evil crime boss nicknamed the Bat — Rodney Dangerfield, making his feature-film debut.
4. Dave Lizewski (Aaron Johnson), Kick-Ass
The character who inspired this list, Lizewski looks like he belongs in a Superbad sequel, not headlining a superhero adventure. But, then again, original Superbad star Michael Cera is set to play an ass-kicking hero in the upcoming Scott Pilgrim adaptation. And McLovin himself, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, dons tights to play Red Mist in Kick-Ass! It’s true what they say: the geeks shall inherit the Earth.
3. Joe Young (Trey Parker), Orgazmo
You can have Mark Wahlberg’s Boogie Nights stud. We’ll take Orgazmo, a pornographic crime fighter whose weapon of choice probably can’t be described in this post. (Use your imagination.) Parker’s brand of offensive humor colored this little-seen comedy, which struggled to find its audience after the MPAA slapped it with the dreaded NC-17. If only Orgazmo had the courage to tackle the evil ratings board!
2. John Henry Irons (Shaquille O’Neal), Steel
Oh, man. A brilliant weapons designer, Irons invents a suit that transforms him into RoboCop…uh, we mean Steel. When grading O’Neal’s films, Steel falls somewhere between Blue Chips (decent) and Kazaam (terrible). Shaq’s painful entry into the superhero genre might have taken top honors here, if not for…
1. Syndrome (Jason Lee), The Incredibles
The pint-size, petulant Syndrome is the biggest fraud on this list, a villain who’s so desperate to be considered special that he engineers the humiliation of his idol, Mr. Incredible (Craig T. Nelson), and fakes superpowers so mortals will like him. The lamest! The real heroes are the artists working behind the scenes at Pixar, who routinely create super-characters for their spectacular animated adventures.