Pretending I’m a Superman: The Tony Hawk Video Game Story covers a cultural touchstone in video game and skateboarding history: the infamous Tony Hawk Pro-Skater franchise. If you grew up in the 1990s and early 2000s, that name cues instant flashbacks to the days of finding hidden tapes, unlocking your favorite skaters, and jamming out to all the punk bands the game had to offer. In an almost spiritual sequel to Dogtown & Z Boys, director Ludvig Gur enlists skateboarding legends to tell the story of a game that changed skating forever. Grab your board and retro console, this documentary will take you on a nostalgia trip into the game that brought skating into the new millennium and beyond.
The film opens by laying the foundation of Tony Hawk’s early career and chronicles his rise to become a skating icon. Paralleling his rise to prominence, the movie also highlights the struggles and triumphs of getting the Tony Hawk Pro-Skater game series made. Told by interviews with game creators and a cast of the biggest names in skating history, Pretending I’m a Superman weaves a story of skateboarding’s progression from low-income skate competitions to a worldwide phenomenon. Skating through the game’s inception to the many sequels, the filmmaker strikes a balance of skating homage and video game origin story – one trick at a time.
“…weaves a story of skateboarding’s progression from low-income skate competitions to a worldwide phenomenon.”
Going into this movie, I – like most fans – had a mental checklist of things I really wanted to see or hear discussed. I mean, how do you talk about Tony Hawk Pro-Skater without mentioning the soundtrack, the design for favorite levels, the X-Games, the first 900…the list goes on forever. The documentary is doomed from the start because of how beloved the games are. There is no way you can cover everything the fans want. By the ending, I was astonished by how many great moments it did cover and the fantastic job Gur did in creating this tapestry. They managed to cover anything fans would hope for and then some. It is evident in every frame of this picture the cast and crew love this game and skateboarding as an art.
Pretending I’m a Superman: The Tony Hawk Video Game Story is a fantastic balance of nostalgia-driven gaming and radical skate stories that roll into one excellent film. You get great archived footage and interviews of skate legends like Steve Caballero, Rodney Mullen, and Tony Hawk alongside in-game footage of these skateboarding stars as your favorite avatars. It can stand on its own as a gaming documentary, such as Indie Game: The Movie, while also serving as an outlet for skate culture, like Bones Brigade: An Autobiography. At times, the movie does go down some rabbit holes, and it is definitely for a niche audience. However, if you grew up on the games or love witnessing the progression of skateboarding, this is a documentary worthy of the high scores it will inspire.
"…astonished by how many great moments it did cover..."