'Kick-Ass 2' and the Greatest Alternative Superheroes
By Tara Bennett
In honor of Mark Millar’s Kick-Ass 2, one of the strangest superhero franchises featuring human crime fighters Kick-Ass (Aaron Johnson), Hit-Girl (Chloë Grace Moretz) and Colonel Stars and Stripes (Jim Carrey), we’re digging deep into the pile of weird to shine a beacon of appreciation on the earthier, flawed and just plain warty superheroes who fight for justice and deserve a little love too.
Hit-Girl, Kick-Ass and Kick-Ass 2
Don’t hate her because she’s angry. Young Mindy Macready was literally raised and trained by her nutty father to become a powerful masked assassin. Sure, she’s deadly, violent and has a mouth that would make a pirate blush, but she’s also got a lot of heart and smarts which makes her the poster gal for alt-superwomen onscreen.
The Spleen, Mystery Men
The Spleen (Paul Reubens) has bad acne, a weird lisp and his power erupts when you pull his finger, which is gross, but also kind of awesome. At least that horrible habit has a purpose! As one of the last members of the Mystery Men, The Spleen brings a warmth and mighty Rolodex to the underdog team. It’s also hard not to like a guy who gets shot down over and over so ruthlessly by The Bowler.
Tank Girl, Tank Girl
Loud, colorful and mouthy, Tank Girl (Lori Petty) is the estrogen-charged Mad Max of a dystopian future brought on by a decade-long drought. With the last of humanity under the thumbs of the totalitarian Water & Power Company, Tank Girl is part of the resistance trying to free them all from their clutches. It’s not as great as the comic book that spawned it, but there’s a gonzo style to her that is in very dire need of a remake.
David Dunn, Unbreakable
In Unbreakable, Bruce Willis gives a powerfully understated performance as David Dunn, an everyman security guard who survives an incredible train crash unscathed. His impossible survival leads him to discover that he might be an actual superhero. He never dons a cape (just a dark cowl) or gets showily heroic as he comes to embrace his powers, but that makes him even more intriguing and worthy of our admiration.
Warren Peace, Sky High
First off, Warren’s (Steven Strait) name is so incredible that he doesn’t even need a power to be cool. Yet power he does possess – known as pyrokinesis - which he uses for good at Sky High even though he looks like the kind of bully that would throw you in the trash for your lunch money. Another twist on convention, Warren looks imposing but he teams up with fellow outcast/good guy Will Stronghold (Michael Angarano) to save the school.
Abe Sapien, Hellboy and Hellboy II: The Golden Army
All of comic book creator Mike Mignola’s Hellboy characters are fantastic, but we’ll tip our "strange" hats to Guillermo del Toro for bringing Abe Sapien to life onscreen so beautifully. A core member of the occult investigate team known as the B.P.R.D ., Abe happens to be a psychic merman. David Hyde Pierce & Doug Jones brought the fussy brainiac to life, the perfect gentleman super-sentient to Hellboy’s unmade bed of a hero.
Matt Garetty, Chronicle
As one of three teens who gain superpowers via exposure to a foreign meteorite, Matt Garetty (Alex Russell) initially works his way through the transformation like any immature teenage boy would – he’s kind of an ass. But as the realities of their newfound powers changes them more, Matt becomes the unexpected moral compass of the tale and earns his superhero status.
River Tam, Serenity
A character originating in the short-lived TV series Firefly, River Tam’s (Summer Glau) backstory wasn't revealed until the series' film Serenity. After she was tinkered with like a lab rat by the nefarious Alliance, River suffered with painful psychic abilities. When she and her spaceship family are threatened, River’s other power of super agility clicks into kill mode and turns her into a bad-ass powerhouse no one in the universe wants to mess with.
Darryl Walker, Blankman
Darryl Walker is a super nerdy Batman fan and average repairman by day, but by night he transforms into Blankman, an urban superhero who supplants his lack of muscle with his clever inventions that help him take down the corrupt in his city. Damon Wayans gives Darryl a nice balance of sweet and geek, making him a truly unique superhero.
Woodrow "Woody" Wilkins, Condorman
Woody (Michael Crawford) is a comic book creator in peril when he claims to be a real spy with the codename "Condorman." Although his “powers” boil down to his quick mind and ability not to die in tight situations, he makes the list for nostalgic reasons. With his yellow wings and cheesy, awesome theme song (Condorman!), he’s what Disney had to offer to the superhero world 30 years before they owned Marvel.
The Crimson Bolt, Super
Believing God selected him to become a superhero for the people, short-order cook Frank Darbo (Rainn Wilson) suits up as The Crimson Bolt and uses a pipe wrench to go after the scum taking advantage of the good. Jet-black despite some comedic moments, Super isn’t for the squeamish. Frank is a “superhero” powered by rage and it isn’t pretty but his message is worth the watching. Who's your favorite? Tell us below.