Comic-Con 2010: James Gunn’s Super is an F’d Up, Low Rent Watchmen

By  · Published on July 23rd, 2010

The real-life superhero movie is becoming a genre unto itself. With Special, Defendor, Kick-Ass and now James Gunn’s Super – the premise of regular men and women putting on costumes and fighting crime seems to be steadily growing.

There hasn’t been a lot of information about the film, and without that information, it’s seemed a little generic. However, with the footage shown at Comic-Con this morning, James Gunn took a monkey wrench to that idea’s forehead and then shoved its grandmother out of her wheelchair.

After all, if you’re going to make a film, why not make an “F’d up, low rent Watchmen”?

The first surprise was the star power on display in this movie. Rainn Wilson stars as a man who has lost his wife (played by Liv Tyler) to a slick businessman (played by Kevin Bacon). Co-star Nathan Fillion gladly reminded everyone that, “if you take something great and add bacon, it just gets better.”

In order to get his wife back, Rainn Wilson’s character Frank dons a superhero costume, names himself the Red Bolt, and hits the streets.

Ellen Page also co-stars as an insane young woman who is desperate to play Frank’s sidekick.

The trailer was fantastic. Rainn Wilson is probably the best working comedian for what the part seems to call for, and the sick humor of James Gunn is front and center. He wrote it 8 years ago and had financing set up around the time he was directing Slither, but he could never find a lead that really fit. It’s a good thing he waited.

Gunn’s ex-wife, Jenna Fischer told Wilson about the project on the set of “The Office,” and when he returned to his Dwight Schrute desk, the script was already sitting in his email inbox.

“I was 27 pages in, and I called James and said ‘I have to do this.”

The rest of the talent involved had similar sentiments – all of them clearly falling in love with the script and needing to be a part of it. Gunn praised them all – multi-million dollar paycheck earners – for agreeing to work for the lowest possible Guild paycheck in order to get it made.

What money they did have came through producers Ted Hope and Miranda Bailey. Hope apparently found out about the project through Twitter when Wilson (who was almost cornered in a Twitter intervention during the panel) announced that he and Gunn were prepping an “F’d up, low rent Watchmen” to shop around.

Co-star Michael Rooker only had one problem with the project.

“I asked James, ‘Do I get to kill anyone in the movie?’ He said, ‘No,’ and I went home and cried.”

In fact, tears were a strange common feature in the conversation. Liv Tyler said she cried after her first day of filming because of the quick pace and the sheer amount of shots that the low-budget forced them to achieve. Nathan Fillion explained how he went home and nearly cried after seeing the film for the first time because, alongside the twisted comedy, there’s a darker dramatic sense of sadness.

Unsurprisingly, there’s rape involved.

Beyond the clip where Rainn Wilson’s character takes a monkey wrench to the forehead of a bastard who cuts in a long line (something Hall H attendees can relate to), there was talk of a section of the film where Ellen Page’s character “has her way with” Rainn Wilson’s. That’s right, everyone. This summer (if they find a distributor), Ellen Page. Will. Rape. Rainn. Wilson.

Put it on the poster.

The panel was a constant stream of the actor’s sharing how much they loved working with each other, but it ended with Wilson and Fillion brawling on stage after an audience member asked which one of them would best the other in fisticuffs.

Wilson won handily. Or Fillion let him. It was unclear.

The trailer and footage wasn’t mindblowing, but it was refreshing and shoved a flag in the sand portending more violence and deviant behavior to come.

Team Gunn doesn’t have distribution for the film yet, but they put on a hell of a panel, and they definitely deserve an honest look from anyone who can rent out a few hundred theaters across the country. I want to see this film.

What do you think?

Movie stuff at VanityFair, Thrillist, IndieWire, Film School Rejects, and The Broken Projector Podcast@brokenprojector | Writing short stories at Adventitious.