The Craziest International Bootleg Superheroes
While superheroes as we know them are largely American creations, characters like Superman, Spider-Man and Batman are highly recognizable not only this country, but all over the world. So can we really blame other countries for wanting to take them and make them their own? Well, in strictly terms of copyright, yes, but in spirit, ComicsAlliance celebrates the bizarre, ridiculous bootleg mashups of our most memorable heroes with the low production values of moviemakers in diverse cultures around the globe. That’s why we’ve asked Chris Sims to take a world tour and bring back the best (and worst) international superhero exports as souvenirs.
Unlike most of the items on our list, 1978’s “SupaidÄman” isn’t a bootleg; it’s the product of Marvel licensing their characters out to Toei, a Japanese production company, to be used however they wanted. It is, however, completely insane. Instead of Peter Parker, this series focused on Takuya Yamashiro, a motorcycle racer whose father, a “space archaeologist,” equipped him with a transformation-inducing wristband that gave him control of a giant fighting robot that he used to fight the kaiju army of Professor Monster in episodes with titles like “Becoming Splendid: To the Murderous Machine of Transformation” and “To the Flaming Hell: See the Tears of the Snake Woman.” We are pretty sure that these facts make it the most awesome thing ever sent out on the airwaves.
If you’re anything like us, you’ve often wondered if there was any possible way to make Batman better than he already is, and the answer is yes: Make him a sexy, bikini-clad female luchador. Released in 1968 at the height of the Adam West “Batman” TV show’s popularity, La Mujer Murcielago is one half shameless attempt to capitalize on Batmania by throwing in foxy chicks and repackaging it for the booming south-of-the-border luchador film industry, and one half fever dream. In it, Batwoman throws down with Dr. Williams (apparently the Mexican Ra’s al-Ghul) as he kidnaps wrestlers in order to build a race of super fish-monsters, while still managing to juggle two boyfriends and sparring matches with her foxy sidekick, Esmerelda. If this wasn’t Greg Rucka’s exact pitch for his current run on “Detective Comics,” it should’ve been.
Remember that part in “Superman: The Movie” where Superman takes Lois flying and she has that weird “Can you read my mind? Do you know what it is that you do to me?” internal monologue, and how weird that seemed when you were a kid? Okay, imagine that instead of Lois’s internal monologue, you got Superman and Lois having a mid-air dance number, then landing in a park so that Superman could do what we can only describe as a full-body hand-jive, then roughing up some thugs, then more flirty dancing, then even more dancing, this time with a full crowd and Superman “riding the pony.”And also Lois Lane is Spider-Man. It may not have made more sense, but it’d be a heck of a lot less boring.
Filiipino Batman and Robin
The fact that 1993’s “Alyas Batman en Robin”was produced as an intentional parody doesn’t make it any less bizarre, especially once the ersatz Joker breaks into a song with lyrics like:
Let’s be good of blood
Let us not be bad
Let’s be good of heart
Let’s be afraid of God!…while a mullet-and-trucker-cap-sporting Batman provides the bassline.
Turkish Superman (or “Supermen Donuyor”) plays it pretty straight, all things considered, although his stoicism and Frankenstein-style lumbering actually give him what we think is an unintended and terrifying sense of menace. He basically does three things in this video: Flies to the left, flies to the right, and and slowly and unsmilingly moves ever closer to his functionally helpless victims like a red and blue spandex tank. With a change of music, Turkish Superman would come off more like Jason Voorhees than Clark Kent, but we prefer to think of it as the Turkish version of “Irredeemable.” But the best thing about it? It gave us this:
Return to Supermans
Unlike its predecessor, “Return to Supermans” isn’t really Turkish. Instead, it’s a parody of “Superman Donuyor” and other international bootlegs produced for Channel 101, the short-film collective that also brought us the brilliance that was Yacht Rock. The entire series is available online, and it’s well worth watching to see Supermans, the Last Son of Kryptar (played by Willy Roberts in what appears to be a child’s Supergirl costume), using both his super-powers and a switchbladeknife to battle it out with his arch-foes Spider-Man and Lex Lucifer and rescue Luis Lane. Check it out, and trust us: By the time Turkish KISS shows up, you will believe man is fly.
Similarly, Italian Spiderman is a 70s action film parody that is no way Italian, and only tangential related to Spider-Man, unless somehow Peter Parker turned into a fat, mustachioed d-bag in red tights with a spider on his chest when I wasn’t paying attention.