Confessions of a Superhero

The film industry is obsessed with superhero extravaganzas. I can’t remember the last summer a comic book movie wasn’t in multiplexes – maybe 2001 before the “original” 2002 Spider-Man came out? I’m not sure. The characters in Confessions of a Superhero could probably tell me, though I’m not sure I’d ever ask.

Once upon a time, Mann’s Chinese Theatre, a popular tourist attraction in L.A., was swarmed with essentially glorified panhandlers dressed as famous film (mostly comic-book) characters. Eventually they were banned from the area, never allowed to come back again. Confessions of a Superhero is a snapshot of that bygone era, and is both an elegy to, and a justification of, the removal of superheroes from the streets.

Following Superman, Wonder Woman, The Incredible Hulk, and Batman (or their alter egos: former meth addict, dissatisfied small town prom queen, good-hearted transient, and self-professed former mob hit man, respectively) the film documents their every move as they get their photos taken with strangers, ask for tips, and dream about “getting discovered” to star in real Hollywood films. It’s immensely watchable.

There’s no better place than L.A. to unravel the seedy side of the American Dream. The desperate individuals who dress up in costume aren’t doing it as a career (save Superman, who loves his “profession”) – they view it as a stepping stone for their acting ambitions. Dress as a superhero on the street and stand around in sweltering heat, then become a famous actor. Sounds about right. And it’s almost true – Hulk gets a bit role on a Hollywood movie, Wonder Woman has since played small parts in television shows, and Superman claims to be descended from Hollywood royalty (disputed by the filmmaker’s and Superman’s alleged mother’s family) – yet their dreams of stardom remain just outside their grasp. They live on Tinseltown dreams but only receive fool’s gold.

Confessions of a Superhero is an indelible portrait of dreamers, weirdos, dissatisfaction, and delusions of grandeur. When Superman says that his comic book collection is worth a million dollars you really feel for the guy. He never stood a chance. Though that may be because of the meth.

Grade: B+

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