Super (2011) - Rotten Tomatoes

Super (2011)



Critic Consensus: Super's intriguing premise and talented cast are drowned in a blood-red sea of graphic violence, jarring tonal shifts, and thinly written characters.

Movie Info

In the outlandish dark comedy SUPER, James Gunn has created what is perhaps the definitive take on self-reflexive superheroes. When sad-sack loser Frank (Rainn Wilson) sees his ex-addict wife (Liv Tyler) willingly snatched by a seductive drug dealer (Kevin Bacon), he finds himself bereft and wholly unable to cope. But soon he decides to fight back under the guise of a DIY superhero called Crimson Bolt. With a hand-made suit, a wrench, and a crazed sidekick named Boltie (Ellen Page), the Crimson Bolt beats his way through the mean streets of crime in hopes of saving his wife. The rules were written a long time ago: You are not supposed to molest children, cut lines or key cars; if you do, prepare to face the wrath of the Crimson Bolt! No stranger to rebel filmmaking, James Gunn cut his teeth writing for Troma before making his directing debut with 2006's SLITHER. In a similar vein, his follow-up feature combines absurd humor with balls-out violence to create something that is both unashamed and inimitable. But this time Gunn adds a new ingredient, one that is dark, dramatic and subversive to the core. -- (c) IFC Filmsmore
Rating: R (for strong bloody violence, pervasive language, sexual content and drug use)
Genre: Drama, Action & Adventure, Comedy
Directed By:
Written By: James Gunn (II)
In Theaters:
On DVD: Aug 9, 2011
Box Office: $0.2M
IFC Midnight - Official Site


Rainn Wilson
as Frank Darbo
Liv Tyler
as Sarah
Kevin Bacon
as Jacques
Andre Royo
as Hamilton
William Katt
as Sgt. Fitzgibbon
Don Mac
as Mr. Range
Linda Cardellini
as Pet Store Employee
Nathan Fillion
as The Holy Avenger
Grant S. Goodman
as Young Frank
Paul Taylor
as Frank Sr.
Connor Day
as Teenage Frank
James Gunn (II)
as Demonswill
Matt Moore
as Jesus/Guy in Line
Steve Agee
as Comic Book Store Jer...
Laurel Whisett
as Librarian
Laurel Whitsett
as Librarian
Nate Rubin
as Passenger Teen
Edrick Browne
as Nathaniel
Krystal Mayo
as Wheelchair Woman
Russell Towery
as Chickenhawk
Jonathan Winkler
as Transvestite
Mollie Milligan
as Sarah's Sister
Gerry May
as Newscaster
Valentine Miele
as Line Butter
Michelle Gunn
as Line Butter's Girlfr...
Darcel Moreno
as Waitress
Greg Ingram
as Long-Haired Hood
Lindsey Soileau
as Libby's Friend
Brandon Belknap
as Christian
Tim J. Smith
as Range's Technician
Mark de Alessandro
as Thug Jumped on by Bo...
Cole McKay
as Thug Set on Fire
John W. Lawson
as Thug Missing Arms
Nate Rubin
as Passenger Teen
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for Super

Critic Reviews for Super

All Critics (118) | Top Critics (29)

If I hadn't foolishly gone and saw Sucker Punch a couple weeks ago, this would be the worst film of the year.

Full Review… | May 3, 2015
Philadelphia Weekly

Gunn's movie is an ingeniously nasty concoction that feeds the cult of superhero fandom back into itself.

Full Review… | June 20, 2013
Film Comment Magazine

Great dark humor and enjoyable performances make this one a winner. Surprisingly, the animated sequences also work quite well.

Full Review… | June 2, 2013
We Got This Covered

The graphic violence spatters along for an hour and a half until we reach that point when writer-director James Gunn says, "That's all I've got" and basically gives up.

Full Review… | January 10, 2013
Tribune News Service

[Not] an easily digestible movie but this is ... the point - in a world where everything isn't as cut and dry as 'good versus evil', rationality is increasingly rare.

Full Review… | September 25, 2012

Super can be very affecting and emotionally disturbing, which might not suit everyone's tastes, but it's also an absorbing, bleak and sometimes funny deviation from the usual superhero fodder.

Full Review… | January 29, 2012

Audience Reviews for Super

The best of the "why-doesn't-someone-suit-up-and-go-fight-crime-like-Batman" genre of film, capably sold by the sure hands of the director James Gunn and the solid casting of Rainn Wilson and Ellen Page. As with Guardians, Gunn's soundtrack is kick ass (sorry, I couldn't help myself) as well.

Kevin M. Williams

Super Reviewer


As we reached double figures in the early 2000s decade there seemed to be a little influx of off-kilter superhero flicks. In 2009 we saw 'Defendor' and then in 2010 we got both 'Kick-Ass' (by far the biggest and most successful) and this little gem starring Rainn Wilson...apparently named after a weather condition but they added an extra 'N' to make it not look too stupid.

The plot isn't too unfamiliar, in fact its hella predictable really. Frank is a plain and simple, unfit, kinda ugly blue collar guy who works in some dingy diner as the cook. Somehow he is married to a pretty sexy girl Sarah, (Liv Tyler). Unfortunately Sarah becomes a druggie early in their relationship and (somehow) gets involved with the sleazy strip club owner Jacques (Kevin Bacon). This causes Frank to spiral into depression behaving recklessly and stupidly, he challenges Jacques and his goons (he has his own strip club goons), tries to get the police to arrest Jacques for stealing his wife and...almost buys a pet rabbit. Eventually his madness leads to supernatural/spiritual visions where he thinks God tells him to become a superhero, so that's just what he does, become a crazy violent vigilante superhero of the people.

So yeah I think you get the gist of this right, the lonely, kinda chubby loser, thinks he's a superhero, makes his own silly costume and runs around the town trying to foil crime. Of course the twist being the movie is grounded in reality and of course Frank isn't a superhero at all and he doesn't live within a comicbook world. You do get all the usual quirks you'd expect in a real origins comicbook flick, the design and creation of his trademark costume, his superhero name, the help he receives from his future sidekick (another lonely blue collar worker who just happens to be a cute as buttons female), his weapon acquirement and his early missions.

Naturally being based in reality you can guess what happens, yes its an easy guess but it is rewarding none the less. Frank confronts typical street drug pushers and such only to find its not as easy as he thinks. Yeah you could say the baddies he confronts are racial stereotypes but the movie is only being honest here, I'm sure they did their research. Anyway it is funny how he dives into action only to have the shit kicked out of himself, it then dawns on him to get a weapon. The following night he does it all over again with the same guy, but now he has a wrench which he uses to beat the guy half to death. Yes it sounds awful but it is actually quite amusing because of the fact its so horrific, and the way he thinks he's doing a good thing. Yeah sure he's stopping a perp selling drugs on the street, but he pretty much kills the guy with a big metal wrench!

As things progress and he half kills more bad guys, he gains a reputation as a nasty vigilante...naturally. This is highlighted in one sequence where he, yet again, half kills a man and woman for cutting in line to a nightclub. The quick cut of him walking off to his car to change into his outfit, which is clearly suppose to take at least 10 minutes and shows him struggling in the backseat with his white Y-fronts on, is brilliant. There are other such superhero mockery moments like Frank waiting around all night behind a dumpster for a crime to occur. A very sweet little scene which shows him talking to himself, keeping a little superhero audio diary, kinda reminds me of the comicbook 'The Tick'. Its moments like these that make the film work on so many levels as it mocks the typical superhero format we all know.

Is the film dark? why yes it is, not quite at first, but it sure does get emotional towards the finale. For starters Frank is clearly in his late 30's maybe early 40's, whilst his sidekick Libby, played by Ellen Page, is around 22 I think it was. Now this isn't an issue at first, Frank doesn't really want her to become his sidekick but she talks him into it, but when she kinda rapes him one night...well that's a bit questionable don't ya think. Talk about gender role reversal! I wonder what the feminists thought about that. Other dark and weird moments involve Franks visions which turn out to be a blend of religion, spiritual and alien abduction. I guess it shows how warped and delusional Frank must be to have these visions which come across as something from 'Hellraiser' mixed with a Holy intervention, and he sees it as positive.

Most of the other dark moments obviously revolve around the violence which is pretty darn bloody at times, this isn't a tame comicbook parody. There isn't anything outrageously over the top like 'Kick-Ass' though, its all quite acceptable and believable stuff, but graphic. Yet we do still get funny superhero mockery in the form of Frank turning up to fight bad guys only armed with his wrench and fists, he brings a wrench to a gun fight, and has to run away sharpish. I think the hardest and most gut wrenching moment is the ending for Libby, I won't ruin it but its actually heart-breaking, horrendously graphic and shocking...did I give that away? Its at that moment the movie really does shift up a gear into serious territory and becomes quite the adrenaline rush, its also where Rainn really shows us his talents.

It certainly fits the bill of a dark comicbook, at times highly amusing, at times highly violent and sick, and at times very emotional. The ending is odd because Frank manages to achieve his goal but at what cost?? it doesn't really seem like a happy ending, especially after the slap to the face revelation about Sarah at the very end, huh! Its a very well acted movie and very engaging I must say, didn't think it would be but it certainly is, you feel for Frank and Libby, and you want them to succeed. Alas you kinda forget all about Sarah even though she is the main target and goal for Frank. You really want him to ride off into the sunset with Libby, the film confuses you there, toys with your emotions. Still its a solid makeshift superhero/vigilante movie with a heart of gold? Well shocking depressing nastiness aside I guess it is, but its more like a rollercoaster for your emotions and moral compass...but still fun.

Phil Hubbs

Super Reviewer

Director James Gunn has a knack for making genre films that go outside of regular film conventions. With "Slither" he made an old time monster movie that coupled with horror and thrillers. Here he takes on the superhero milieu, and in the same way as "Kickass," easily subverts the traditional hero. While that film was more about teenaged angst and hardcore violence, "Super's protagonist is much darker, very prone to violence, and he definitely does not have his life in order. Frank (Wilson) is a very confused man who has his wife taken away from him by violent individuals who have drugged and re-addicted her to drugs. He has acted as her rock for so long that when she is powerless to even save herself, he jumps into action and takes on the unique catchphrase of "Shut up crime!" Frank has his own virtues and creed, but he oftentimes takes justice too far but without repercussion. Instead of finding the character repulsive and his actions incomprehensible, the film celebrates the blood and sometimes gore. Frank fights tooth and nail to save his wife, and his sacrifices, whether physical, mental, or emotional, are all brave and heartbreaking to watch. The film gets much darker when he takes on sidekick Boltie (Page), who has a violent streak that runs deeper than anything Frank could imagine. Her rage and lack of common sense seems to work well with his naiveté and need to crusade for justice. The film is also laced with black comedy, and it works well with what the film is. The relationship between Frank and Boltie is both obviously flawed and always entertaining. The action has some bloody battles, but what makes these scenes really interesting is how excited Frank is to burst into battle, and yet it's so painful and frightening for him. It's not just a film about bloodletting of course; it's also about a man who takes on everyone, to save the one person he has always protected.

Spencer S.

Super Reviewer

Super Quotes

Hamilton: Hamilton: You got to forget about that bitch! She's a fucking whore. She sucked more dick than my brother Victor, and you saw that faggot come in here once with a cum worm on his beard. He didn't even know it was there. How you don't know someone jizzed in your face?
– Submitted by Ethan M (2 years ago)
Frank: You don't butt in line! You don't sell drugs! You don't molest little children! You don't profit on the misery of others! The rules were set a long time ago! They don't change!
– Submitted by Jack G (3 years ago)
Boltie: It's called internal bleeding, f***er! Then you die! Ha ha ha!
– Submitted by Emma B (4 years ago)
Frank: People look stupid when they cry.
– Submitted by Fabio B (4 years ago)

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