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Rainn Wilson in “Super” Joins the Nuttiest Real-Life Superheroes

As comic book movies have shown, it takes a special kind of person to put on tights and a cape in the name of truth and justice. As Rainn Wilson’s deranged anti-hero demonstrates in the dark and gory indie comedy Super, sometimes all you need is a wrench and a snappy catchphrase. (“Shut up, crime!”) Real world superheroes are all the rage these days, thanks to movies like Kick-Ass and the recent documentary Superheroes, about ordinary folks who don costumes in order to keep their neighborhoods safe. Perhaps they were inspired by these everyday heroes from the big screen? With Super just released on DVD and Blu-ray, it’s time to pay tribute to some ordinary heroes who are more Travis Bickle than Bruce Wayne.

rain-super-wrench.jpgRainn Wilson, Super
Frank (Rainn Wilson) dons the persona of The Crimson Bolt for reasons similar to those of the Blues Brothers: He’s on a mission from God. Depressed after his wife leaves him, Frank gets the idea to become a wrench-wielding vigilante after being visited by corny hero Holy Avenger (Nathan Fillion) in a hallucination. (This is after tentacles rip open his brain. It’s a weird movie.) But Frank doesn’t just reserve his wrench beatings for criminal scum — he also puts the beat down on social rule-breakers who cut in front of him in line at the movies. (Basically, he’s like a superhero version of Larry David.) Frank eventually rescues his drug-addled ex-wife from Kevin Bacon’s sleazy strip-club proprietor, but not before racking up a body count worthy of The Punisher.

defendor-125.jpgWoody Harrelson, Defendor
Works employee by day, costumed superhero by night, Defendor stalks the
streets in his quest to defeat his arch-nemesis, Captain Industry. The
only problem? Nobody believes his arch-nemesis exists. Playing a
mentally ill man with heroic delusions, Woody Harrelson wears a WWII
helmet and utilizes a wide variety of offbeat weapons. (With a name like
Defendor, you’d expect him to have a better arsenal than a jar of angry wasps and a handful of
marbles.) Like The Crimson Bolt, Defendor finds a kindred spirit in a
troubled young woman, played by Thor‘s Kat Dennings. He’s also the
only superhero who sees a shrink. If Bruce Wayne had a few sessions on
the couch, would he have felt the need to dress up as a bat?

rapaport-125-special.jpgMichael Rapaport, Special
wonder if the medication you’re taking is giving you weird super
powers? Comic book geek Les (Rapaport) thinks he’s a superhero after
volunteering to be a human guinea pig for an experimental drug. Instead
of the usual dry mouth, Les finds that he can levitate and hear
the thoughts of others. So of course he puts on a costume and uses his
powers of telepathy to clean up the streets. (This mostly consists of
tackling muggers and purse snatchers.) Are Les’ powers all in his head,
or is he actually a drug-boosted superhero like Captain America? And why
does his costume make him look like he’s ready to hit the ski slopes?

big-daddy-125.jpgNicolas Cage, Kick-Ass
twisted cross between Batman and The Punisher, Big Daddy is a disgraced
cop who devotes himself to taking down crime boss Frank D’Amico
following the death of his wife. As if dressing up in a faux-Batman
costume wasn’t crazy enough, he’s trained his young daughter, Mindy, to be
a pint-size killing machine. As part of her schooling, Big Daddy shoots her at point-blank range. (They go out for hot fudge sundaes
afterward.) All of his training pays off, as Mindy becomes the
limb-slashing vigilante Hit Girl. Cage brings his usual oft-kilter line
readings to the role of Big Daddy, creating one of the most memorably
bizarre movie dads in recent memory.

ellen-page-125.jpgEllen Page, Super
Boltie, sidekick to Rainn Wilson’s Crimson Bolt, Ellen Page proves to
be even crazier than her mentor. Page’s comic book store clerk becomes
seriously unhinged once in costume, nearly killing a guy for possibly
keying her friend’s car and, uh, “teaming up” with Frank against his
will (it’s not cheating if they’re in costume) in a twisted take on the
traditional hero-sidekick roles. Like Hit Girl, she curses a blue streak
while taking out bad guys. While she may not have Hit Girl’s fighting
training, she does have sweet Wolverine claws.

Heroatlarge-125.jpegJohn Ritter, Hero at Large
Kick-Ass, there was John Ritter’s hapless hero in this
early ’80s Disney comedy. Ritter plays Steve Nichols, a struggling
actor who dresses up as the popular superhero Captain Avenger at
promotional appearances. But after stopping a robbery in costume,
Nichols decides to actually be Captain Avenger in order to help the
innocent. Pretty soon he’s knocking out bad guys and rescuing a kid from
a burning building. The late Ritter brings his usual charm to the role
of a quirky guy who inspires the city with his good deeds. (Look for Super bad guy Kevin Bacon in an early role as a snotty teenager who heckles Ritter at a movie theater.)

ben-stiller-mm-125.jpgBen Stiller, Mystery Men
most of the loser heroes in the Mystery Men could be defined as
nutzoid, Stiller’s Mr. Furious is the loosest cannon on a team of loose
cannons. Mr. Furious’ so-called powers revolve entirely around him
getting super strong whenever he gets angry. (Rumor has it he once moved
a bus with minimal help from the driver.) Unfortunately, since his
powers rarely manifest, he’s basically just an angry dude. He’s
basically The Hulk, but without all the pants ripping.

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