Every actor has one film – multiple for others – where people question what convinced them to choose that role. These decisions are scrutinized even further if said actor has already established a solid career full of great films. Super, as promised here, turned out to be that choice for Kevin Bacon*…and Rainn Wilson, Nathan Fillion, Ellen Page and even Liv Tyler.


Frank D’Arbo (Wilson) is one of the unluckiest men in the world who only has two perfect moments: marrying Sarah (Tyler) and pointing a policeman in the direction of a thief. Unfortunately for him, his junkie wife was only with him as a result of her sense of obligation to him for helping her get temporarily clean. In comes menacing Jacques (Bacon) to steal Sarah from Frank and push her back into the world of hardcore drug abuse. With the help of comic store clerk, Libby (Page) and visions of the Holy Avenger (Fillion), Frank decides to take on a vigilante superhero persona and save his wife.

The most commendable aspect of Super is its consistency. It starts dark (humor and content) and stays that way up until the absolute final moments. There are some attempts to save you from the depressing hole that is Frank’s life by adding comic animations and upbeat music, albeit occasionally with depressing lyrics, but these melodies are always accompanying a brutal beating or awkward semi-rape scene (the sex in this film is not necessarily gratuitous, but unbelievably dismal).

Similar to Kick Ass, Super utilizes outright gory violence when showing Frank’s crusades under the mask of the Crimson Bolt. The beatings are so unflinching and at times disturbing that you begin to wonder what is the point of the film. There is no clear, discernible message to the film. A man, almost certainly mentally unstable, sets off on a rampage at the behest of a religious vision. Even if you tried to include the drug addiction aspect of the film, you are still left with pathetic people unable to stabilize their lives in a socially acceptable way – unless sending people to the ICU with a wrench is socially acceptable to you.

Frank is such an odd social outcast who has no connection to normal behavior that the film leads into more of an examination of his mental state than following a superhero. As a viewer you become less interested in the story and more interested in what could possibly have convinced this timid man such a criminally insane spree was the only way to get his wife back. Libby is not much better. She is a seemingly normal twenty-two year old comic lover until she becomes aroused by superhero antics and beating the hell out of someone. Page is actually the only person fit for her role in the sense that she has balanced the maniacal and the quirky before.

There is just a lot left unnecessary and unexplained, which makes Super more confusing than entertaining. Why is there a religious element? Why is there a subdued focus on rape? Why is Kevin Bacon playing a hardcore drug dealer? There is so much unhappiness going on in Super, you can’t even fathom it in its entirety. As my mother commented at its conclusion, “What did we just watch, and why?”

*We can include Death Sentence to that list.

  1. Lol, …shut-up crime?

    It looks interesting anyway.

  2. I always find it interesting to see what other people thought of this movie. I found it interesting, yet it often made me feel uncomfortable. I didn’t think it was a bad movie, but it’s just not what you would expect when you go into it.

    • Agreed it really is quite surprising how off-putting it is. I actually had to watch it twice so I could get beyond the initial shock. It’s definitely a film that could go either way for people and I would understand.

  1. June 7th, 2012

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