It’s an incredibly busy time in the world of superheroes. There are DC and Marvel superhero films making their mark with every passing year, but if you’re growing tired of the conventional superhero, we’ve got just the thing for you!
We’ve turned the superhero concept on its head and sought the more unconventional superheroes to reach our cinema screens. From unwitting superheroes to the most hilarious and harmless superheroes, check out these seven formidable foes whose popularity could rival that of most DC and Marvel icons.
This typically British spy is a hilarious parody of secret agent James Bond, bumbling his way through life as an MI7 agent. Johnny English always harbours aspirations of becoming the organization’s most trusted employee but, despite his best intentions, nothing ever seems to go according to plan for him. Played by the enchanting British actor Rowan Atkinson of Mr Bean fame, English somehow saves the day in the first of three movies, snaring Pascal Sauvage and stopping the Frenchman from being crowned the new King of England. In Johnny English Reborn, he is assigned to investigate a plot to assassinate the Chinese Premier, foiling old acquaintance Simon Ambrose in the process. The latest film grossed over $160m worldwide at the box office and so popular is the brand of Johnny English that there has been a wealth of merchandise from independent designers sporting his unmistakable face and one-liners on t-shirts and smartphone covers alike.
V (V for Vendetta)
This dystopian political thriller was shot based on the limited-edition DC/Vertigo Comics series that went by the same name. Played by Hugo Weaving, V is an archetypal freedom fighter and is an unconventional superhero in his own way, attempting to kickstart a revolution by carrying out sophisticated terrorist acts. In the film, V’s actions educated the population to start to question the parliamentary rule in London. After dying in a gruesome duel with Peter Creedy, head of Britain’s “secret police”, V is a martyr in the eyes of Evey Hammond, who insists he represented “all of us”. The unmistakable masks worn in V for Vendetta became instantly popular pieces of merchandise, particularly for Halloween parties and with the internet crowds. There are also officially licensed V for Vendetta gifts such as rare and original manuscripts from scriptwriter Alan Moore.
Who can possibly forget the fictitious superhero Hellboy, created by writer-artist, Mike Mignola?. The character first came to light in the San Diego Comic-Con Comics and then featured in his very own 2004 movie, based loosely on the Dark Horse Comics graphic novel, Hellboy: Seed of Destruction. Hellboy is a beast-turned-superhero character, who works in the darkness to keep the world free from paranormal threats as part of the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense. At the end of the 2004 movie, Hellboy saves the rest of the world from Grigori Rasputin, who was possessed by an evil creature from the Ogdru Jahad. Hellboy sacrifices himself to be swallowed by the beast before letting off a cluster of hand grenades from inside it, which kills him and destroys the beast in the process in a heroic act. Hellboy raked in almost $100m at the box office and a sequel was made in 2008, with plans afoot for another film in 2019. Hellboy’s character has created something of a cult following, with everything from t-shirts, hoodies, towels and blankets to online video games. These games allow fans to step into the shoes of this half-demon, half-human hell child and enjoy gaming action set in an accurate gothic scene, working as part of the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense.
This classic 3D-animated movie had some huge names in it. Will Ferrell did the voiceover for the main protagonist, Megamind himself, while the likes of Brad Pitt and David Cross were also involved. Megamind begins the film as the archetypal super-villain, but just hours after finally getting the better of long-time foe and superhero Metro Man, Megamind realizes that there is no need for his villainy and seeks to create a new superhero to become his new nemesis. The plan backfires and his new creation becomes more powerful and fiercer than Megamind had ever been. With Metro City spiraling out of control, Megamind has to turn superhero himself to save the city and destroy his creation. The film grossed over $320 million, making it one of the lowest-grossing films made by DreamWorks Animation in the 2000s. However, that was due in no small part to its clash with the release of Despicable Me. The bulbous-shaped head of Megamind makes for very recognizable merchandise, with t-shirts bearing his face and his famous “No you can’t” saying proving particularly popular.
In the late 1980s, director Sam Raimi was desperate to shoot his very own superhero movie. He was unable to get the right to shoot Batman or The Shadow (although, years later, he’d be hired to direct Spider-man) so he sought to create his own superhero instead. That superhero was Darkman, played by Liam Neeson. Darkman was once a fascinating scientist, known as Peyton Westlake, who was burned alive and left for dead by Robert Durant, a ruthless mobster who was keen to get his hands on an incriminating document revealing that his boss and city zoning commissioner, Louis Strack Jr., had been bribing members to get his own way. Westlake survives, but returns as the Darkman seeking swift revenge for Durant’s actions. He eventually causes the timely elimination of Durant after a breathtaking scene leading to a helicopter crash. Darkman admits he can no longer return to his former life as he’d seen and changed too much. The Darkman has become something of a cult franchise, with two direct-to-video sequels in 1995 and 1996 respectively. Merchandise for this unconventional superhero has been somewhat slim, although t-shirts bearing his phrase “I am everyone and no-one” create that mysterious persona Darkman’s now famous for. Darkman also became a video game hit on the NES, Amiga, Atari and Commodore 64, with Ocean Software developing a game based on the movie just months after the film’s success in 1991.
Who knew that there could ever be such a thing as a sex superhero? Hit directors, Matt Stone and Trey Parker certainly did! Their satirical creation of Orgazmo in their 1997 film met with some confusion in certain quarters of the film industry and delight in other areas – particularly with fans of South Park, who Stone and Parker also created. Joseph Young, a naive Mormon, moves to Los Angeles in search of the bright lights and entertainment LA has to offer. When he discovers that the city isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, he’s on the brink of returning home when he encounters a sleazy porn director, Maxxx Orbison, who eventually casts Joseph as the leading actor in his next film, Orgazmo. After a successful first movie, Orbison coerces Joseph into being Orgazmo for a second film. When Joseph declines, Orbison kidnaps his fiancée, forcing Joseph to shoot Orbison with the Orgazmorator, incapacitating him and reconciling with his woman in true heroic style!
Stanley Ipkiss (The Mask)
The key protagonist in the unforgettable The Mask franchise, Stanley Ipkiss is a shy, kind-hearted individual who tends to be taken for a ride by all of those people he trusts. He hopes one day of finding a woman to spend the rest of his life with, but from the moment he encounters the Mask, his life would change forever, spurning opportunities with the opposite sex at every turn. Nevertheless, Ipkiss is very much an unconventional superhero as he uses the Mask to down Edge City’s leading mobster, Dorian Tyrell, who had an ambition to take over the city’s underworld. Ipkiss uses the Mask to rescue his girlfriend Tina, before trapping Tyrell’s henchmen ready for the police to arrest them. Incredibly, The Mask would be a ground-breaking movie for both Jim Carrey (Stanley Ipkiss) and Cameron Diaz (Tina Carlyle), with the film grossing $351m from a meagre $23m budget. A sequel unsurprisingly arrived in 2005 in the shape Son of the Mask, which was not well-received by critics and sorely lacked the presence of Jim Carrey. The Mask has long been a popular fancy dress outfit idea for all occasions, with green latex masks easily replicating Stanley Ipkiss’ crazed Mask demeanor. The Mask was also a popular side-scrolling video game on the Super Nintendo loosely based on the film and Dark Horse comic book series.