Is this the Golden Age of DIY Independent filmmaking? The tools are certainly there. Cameras, editing and FX software, and a ravenous desire to consume content by the masses all seem to point in that direction. This boom has sent many filmmakers of old to resurrect their work done back in the day when the word digital wasn’t associated with filmmaking. This brings us to Jeff Gass and Wesley Wittkamper’s DIY feature film, Super Heroes The Movie.
Shot in 1998, Super Heroes The Movie is a low-budget parody of the Justice League, or more specifically, The Super Friends television show. Avoiding any trademark complications, our band of heroes includes Superbman (Ric Borelli), Wonderful Woman (Lisa Guerrero), Aguaman (Paul Bynum), Ratman (Mark Staten), and Sparrow (Dan Thief). Of course, we can’t forget the Super Twins, Jan (Barry Lasit) and Zana (Izumi). Meeting in the International House of Justice, our heroes face their biggest challenge to date — being defunded by Gumperman (Alex Boling).
Meanwhile, landing Terminator-style somewhere in Venice Beach (presumably) is an entity from the fifth dimension, Bob (Kevin Glikmann); just try saying his name backward. His arrival on Earth starts his campaign toward world domination. He just needs a band of henchmen that would make the 1960s Batman proud.
Eminent defunding and world domination is not the only problem as our heroes are about to implode from within. Superbman and Wonderful Woman can’t work together after their most recent breakup. Aguaman continues to feel marginalized because of his powers, and Ratman and Sparrow have a serious need to party. The Super Twins are distressed millennials before there were millennials.
“Eminent defunding and world domination is not the only problem…”
The best way I can describe Super Heroes The Movie is Friends in spandex. If you’re looking for super-fights and incredible examples of inhuman powers, you won’t find it here, thanks to the flick having no budget. It’s 80 minutes of superhero relationship silliness.
Let me be perfectly frank, I didn’t laugh out loud at any time, but I did smirk occasionally. There’s also nothing profound or groundbreaking about the movie in either comedy or story. But don’t mistake my tepid impressions of the film as a negative. I was never bored and loved the actual parody aspects.
The best thing I can say is that it is a hundred times better than the big studio Superhero parody from 2008 starring Leslie Nielsen and Drake Bell. Watching Super Heroes The Movie, I could sense the fun the filmmakers and their friends clearly had while making it. I admired the makeshift costumes, the few special effects, and how they resisted the temptation to overdue the parody, which kept it from feeling like a one-note joke.
You could do a lot worse than Super Heroes The Movie, and you can certainly do much better in terms of comedies and superhero movies. It’s fine for a casual weekend with friends.
"…resisted the temptation to overdue the parody..."