DEFENDOR (2009)

WRITER/DIRECTOR: Peter Stebbings/BUDGET: $3.5 million (estimated)/GROSS: $44,462

The last decade has seen the the super hero/comic book movie take over Hollywood. Every year they are releasing and rebooting more super heroes and every company that can is delving into whatever comic vault they can find looking for a comic hero that they can turn into a movie (and hopefully a franchise of course).

And when a film genre starts to get really big, what happens next (after everyone tries to make a movie in said genre)? First you get the parodies: Superhero Movie. Then you get films that some might call post-modern parodies (although, i appreciate that that term, "post-modern" is somewhat overused and/or used incorrectly much of the time).

These are films that take a reflective and self-aware look at the genre, deconstructing it while playing within it. The "everyman" superhero theme is a big one here and films like Kick-Ass and Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World come to mind. And then there is Defendor.

Woody Harrelson plays Arthur Poppington. A man who comes to believe he is a superhero, Defendor. He has tasked himself with fighting the evil in the city as part of his larger quest in search of "captain industry" - the man who killed his mother.

While films like Scott Pilgrim and Kick-Ass seem to be winking at us the whole time, as if to let us know how smart they are and how aware they are of what they are doing, Defendor never does that.

What was unexpected, for me, about Defendor was how genuine it was. While the film does offer up some very funny moments it remains quite touching and real.

From the questions of Arthur's mental health, his friendship with a teenage girl right on down to the color scheme - which plays in the darks and greys and cloudy skies. And these aren't stylized comic book greys, or gothem city darks. It’s just a cloudy city.

This is a concrete world. A world outside our window - not inside a comic book. And although there is the superhero element to it, writer/director Peter Stebbings is more interested in the "hero" part than the "super.”