Fantasia 2016 Review: SUPERPOWERLESS, A Superhero Film That Embraces Your Outer Forty Year-Old
Bob used to be his city’s Saviour. As Captain Truth he kept crime at bay in the city of San Francisco. However, when Bob hit middle-age his powers all but vanished, leaving him as normal and vulnerable as the rest of us. Plain, normal Bob spends his days wandering the city, drinking. He lives off of his girlfriend Mimi who is having her own existential crisis as she hopes for a promotion at work, while being reminded she once dreamt of going to Rome and studying art.
When Bob’s former sidekick releases a biography Mimi encourages Bob to write his own memoir and hire an editor. After putting out an ad he will meet Daniell, a young, beautiful and vivacious go getter looking to get her foot in the door in publishing. Instantly attracted to her Bob hires her but ironically keeps her identity secret from Mimi.
As Bob reflects upon his past life into his voice recorder he reevaluates his life, his relationship with Mimi and searches for a newfound purpose.
Superpowerless is the superhero movie for adults who have accepted that they are adults. The coming of middle-age story ends with a hopeful message that all is not lost when you hit your 40s. It is alway possible to find a new purpose or reboot if you feel you have to.
It is odd that the mid-life crisis still exists. Turning 40 now is not the same when our parents turned 40. No one told me I was Over the Hill when I hit Version 4.0. Yet here I am, in my early 40s, and I will admit that the very same thoughts have crossed my mind. What is next? What now? Where? Who? How did I get here? Who will take me to my home? Where is my home? I do not have the free time to do it drunk like Bob does, though.
As Bob reflects on his life he recounts the story of when he discovered that he could fly. By accident, he fell of a rooftop while on a mission, and found this other power. From then on he could fly but he would have to jump off a rooftop first. You don’t fly until you jump. This story becomes the moral of the story. What is next? Well you do not know until you take that first plunge. You will not find out until you get out there and do something about it. Instead of wallowing in doubt or fear you have to jump.
Josiah Polhemus (Bob, and director Duane Andersen’s friend since ever) and Amy Prosser (Mimi) are stage actors by trade so the delivery sometimes flows with that posterity, with an awareness of what the characters will say next. Some exchanges sound too perfect to be natural. You never doubt a character’s sincerity and they are believable but it lacks the casualness of the everyday conversation.
Still, Superpowerless’ strength is the subtlety by which the messages are delivered. There is some humor mixed into the screenplay when Bob talks with LIberty Boy his former sidekick. Jokes about what other superheroes are doing. Then there is the time tested joke of secret identities and how they always work and the two duck into an enclave and lift a hood and remove a mask. It is simply silly but it still works.
The challenge for Superpowerless may be relatability to a broader audience. Superpowerless is a well crafted and executed study of a middle aged man coming to terms with his life’s turn and his relationship with his partner. It is simply relatable. It is relatable for those of us who are going through it now. Those having already done so may see some of those same things that Bob is going through.
To the rest, that are younger than us, the target audience, who still believe they have the World in their grasp and everything is possible, it may be a tale of foreboding doom. When they watch it instead of calling it a dramady we should call it a precautionary tale. This is your future! Nothing you do will prepare you for it! Doom! Doo-oooom.