The 2010 James Gunn Superhero Movie For Fans of ‘The Boys’: A Film ‘Ahead of Its Time’

The Boys takes the superhero genre and flips it on its head — irreverently presenting a team of “supes” who work for a corporation vying for governmental influence. Most of the superheroes are self-serving and corrupt. A band of brave and brazen misfits aims to bring them down (and the public-influencing corporation they work for). Gory and violent does not begin to describe the TV-MA series that challenges the black and white world of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. 

The Boys
(L-R) Erin Moriarty, Antony Starr, Jack Quaid and Karen Fukuhara attend Amazon Prime Video’s ‘The Boys’ | Kevin Winter /Getty Images for Amazon Studios

The Boys is not the only unorthodox take on the genre, as The Umbrella Academy also toys with the superhero genre — in a more PG-13 fashion. Yet, before The Boys and The Umbrella Academy, there was James Gunns’ Super. 

What is James Gunn’s ‘Super’ about? 

James Gunn – the man behind the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise — wrote the screenplay for and directed 2010’s Super, starring Elliot Page, Liv Tyler, Rainn Wilson, Kevin Bacon, and more. 

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The film follows a fry cook who decides to take to the streets as a costumed vigilante after his wife leaves him. The film was praised for its combination of violence and humor, as well as its poignant depiction of humanity — and what happens when an emotionally volatile man is forced to take matters into his own hands. Yet, the film opened to mixed reviews, and many later deemed it “ahead of its time.” 

What critics said about ‘Super’

According to Rotten Tomatoes, Super’s “intriguing presence and talented cast are drownded in a blood-red sea of graphic violence, jarring tonal shifts, and thinly written characters.” The movie was derided for cinematic features that —if handled with finesse — receive praise. Humor and violence work well together in The Boys.

Shifting between dark comedy, sincere emotional moments, and action-packed fight sequences is customary of shows like The Boys and The Umbrella Academy. Yet, back when Super premiered, superhero movies of the formula-breaking fashion weren’t necessarily celebrated.

Critics who enjoyed the movie praised it for smudging the line between black and white, good vs. evil, and presenting the gray that actually describes human morality. Bleakness met comedy, making for a film that was simultaneously hard to watch and hard to turn off. What better describes a show like The Boys?

Kevin Bacon told NME, “James and I had worked on a movie called Super years before. And when you look at something like The Boys or even Kick-Ass, you know, Super was sort of ahead of its time, just in terms of a concept.”