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Does ‘Super’ Take One Too Many Steps Away From its Source Material? [Video]

“Super” is an upcoming film from the writer/director of “Slither,” James Gunn. The film is a look at superheroes through a very jaundiced eye. It sees them as insane, petty people who are not even remotely up to the task that they set for themselves. Their costumes look ridiculous. They are short on skills but long on temper. Instead of being heroic, or even threatening, there is something vaguely pathetic about them. “Super” is a take down of the assumptions made about the superhero genre in movies and comics.

As such, it’s covering ground already worn smooth by movies like “Watchmen,” and “Kick-Ass” and even shows like “The Tick.” That doesn’t matter. There are plenty of films out there about two quirky people falling in love, or a down-on-his-luck coach and his down-on-their-luck team going all the way to the play-offs. A genre can be packed to bursting with movies, as long as they’re quality movies.

But take a look at the new clip from “Super” after the jump. Does that look like it’s even part of the superhero genre?

Superhero films and comics were once exactly that: the exploits of heroes with the volume turned up on everything. Superheroes were tougher, faster, more skilled, smarter, and more noble than any human could possibly be – which made them just as tough, fast, skilled, smart and noble as most humans wanted to be. The allure of the genre was stepping into that world, following that paragon, and having those adventures.

Over time, superheroes came a little bit down to our level. Not in their intentions, necessarily, but their motivations and lives. They suffered and they bickered amongst themselves, and fell more into the world.

“Watchmen,” and “The Dark Knight Returns,” made them of the world in a new way, examining how political and social systems would deal with them, and using that to make a point about how political and social systems deal with us. Suddenly superheroes couldn’t fix things any more than we could.

Movies like “Kick-Ass,” and the “The Tick” took another step towards the everyday. In these worlds a ‘superhero’ is an existing concept. It’s one that people admire, and decide to model themselves after. The comedy of both titles comes from people trying to emulate superheroes and realizing all the practical ways that reality trips them up.

Still, both of those titles include action, fantasy, and the sweeping drama that comes with the superhero genre. They’re parodies, but they’re still knee-deep in the material that they’re ridiculing. A one minute clip isn’t much to go on, but “Super” looks like it takes one too many steps away from the source material. The atmosphere is gone, the action, the dramatic flourishes, the sense of significance, and all that’s left is a couple of people yelling at each other while wearing costumes. At some point, the superhero genre isn’t the superhero genre anymore. Hopefully “Super” won’t contribute to reaching that dead end.

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