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Episode 192 :: Microsode 2-Pack – Films with Strange Truths & Secret Superpowers

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    This two-parter was pretty great. Definitely one of those episodes I wished I were in the room, I had so many opinions on this topic!

    Secret Superhero films:
    ·The Fast and the Furious: These movies have a few things going on. The characters all have the superpower of being super good drivers. In one of them, one of the cops even says “Whatever you do, DO NOT let them get behind the wheel of a car” acknowledging that once that happens, nobody in the world can do anything about it. One of the other bits is that Vin Diesel has actual superpowers that are never addressed, in fact the exact same powers as Bruce Willis in Unbreakable. In the first film, he gets hit by a train in a car and walks away. By the time his character shows back up in 4 Fast, 4 Furious, he is able to lift a big-block racing engine with one hand, snap handcuffs, and have seemingly psychic re-enactments of car-related events when he shows up on the scene after the fact.

    Secretly True Stories:
    ·Jaws: The reason that the Jersey Shore Shark Attacks of 1916 weren’t more in the public consciousness is that they were overshadowed almost immediately by WWI news. There are some pretty great photos that came out of the era that you can see clearly influenced the shark hunt hysteria in jaws:

    ·Ghost and the Darkness: the skins of the two Tsavo man eater lions have been stuffed, and are on display at the Fields Museum of natural history in Chicago. They’ve lost a bit of size over the years because they led a hard life touring with circus side shows for awhile. He ultimately sold them to the museum for something like $6000 (at the time, which seems ludicrous to me). The memoirs of Guy Pierce’s character are in the public domain as an eBook; I have a copy but haven’t made time to read it yet.

    ·The Serpent and the Rainbow: This one is bananas. It’s about an anthropologist who went to haiti and met a man claiming to be an actual voodoo zombie who had escaped from his overlord and got better. The movie dramatizes this pretty hard core, and is legit terrifying as a result. Stars a young Bill Pullman:

    ·The Cannonball Run: It is perhaps a little known fact that this movie is based on an actual race from NY to LA organized by journalist Brock Yates and his friends that was run for several years to protest the lowering of the national speed limit. Yates consulted on the film, and some of what appear to be bits were actual cover stories used by the drivers. The ambulance driven by Burt Reynolds was an actual van used in the race, and the fake priest gag used by Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr. was an actual ruse used by some entrants. They took a little too long to get their production underway, and the movie Cannonball! starring David Carradine managed to scoop them. That one isn’t a comedy, it’s more of a driving action film. It’s also interesting as a period piece if you like car films.


    ·The Last Flight of Noah’s Ark: A little-known Disney film about a group of people who crash a WWII era bomber onto a remote pacific Island and come across a pair of japanese war holdouts. This is inspired by the then-current discovery of an actual war holdout named who had been in hiding for decades, refusing to believe that WWII was over. His actual story is probably cooler than the film, since he stayed in the jungle as a one-man raiding party for tens of years, refusing to surrender or believe the war being over as anything but western propaganda. Sometime in the 70s, a Japanese college dropout decided to go find him (lumping him into the same category as The Yeti), and did, at which point Onoda refused to surrender to anyone but his old commanding officer. This man was found running a bookstore, and he went to go tell the guy the war was over. Upon his return to Japan, Onoda became a youth leader in some boy scouts-esque organization and only passed away recently, I think this year. He also has a memoir I have yet to read:


    @Max Onoda was crazy. I remember the documentary about the guy. He has 2 others with him when they first took to the jungle. One went home the other eventually died. The guy that left Onoda latter kept looking for him, buy Onoda believed he was a traitor because he complained too much while they were hiding.

      Secret Superhero Films

    The Sixth Sense – The name was said several times in the episode, but I am pretty sure it wasn’t listed as a secret super hero movie. A kid has the ability to see dead people and the story is how he comes to use it. A great origin story.

    Fetching Cody – A Jay Baruchel movie about a guy that gets a hold of a time traveling chair and uses it to save his girlfriends life. Also they are druggies.

    Flubber – A scientist invents a hyper-kinetic material and uses the new power to.. do a bunch of non-sense stuff….

    Sherlock Holmes – The Robert Downy Jr. films feel like a superhero film to me with the modern film direction and such, but the older the version the more secret Holmes’ power of super intellect is portrayed.

    Speaking of time travel. There are several Dramadies and life stories out in the last few years.

    Kate and Leopold -(mentioned by Hex) Ignore the whole context of love forming across time (and generations). This is really a story about a modern scientist that jumps though a time portal (pocket rift thingy) and brings back the Duke of York. Can he be returned to his proper time before the space time continuum is ripped to shreds?

    The Time Traveler’s Wife – Its not so much a superhero movie so much as, if you have an ability you can’t control, your life is a bit fucked.

    About Time – Everything “The Time Traveler’s Wife” was supposed to be (IMHO). All the men in the protagonist’s family have the ability to travel back in time to any point in their lives. Just stand in a dark room, close your eyes, and clench your hands real tight. A great story that invokes all those feels for a Father and Son.

    The crazy time movie you were talking about was the Tom Hanks film “Cloud Atlas”. I only saw a little of it, but it was supposedly a love story that kept happening as a couple were reincarnated. They appeared in the 1800’s, 1970’s, cyberpunk future, and post apocalyptic earths. No idea for the story other than it jumped around a lot in the 15 minutes that I saw.


    I think cap may have been talking about Winter’s Tale with Russell crow


    The problem with this concept of the secret superhero movie is that what makes it a superhero movie is so hard to define. If it’s just having the main character doing things that no one else can do then theoretically any movie with a science fiction or supernatural element could be argued as one, from Click to Limitless. I think what’s needed is that it also has the element of using whatever makes the main character special not just to improve their own lives or seek revenge, but to make the world around them better as a whole. “With great power…” and all that. More concretely this has to be something the main character realizes well before the third act, with whatever deed they do to cause said improvement being the climax and not part of the resolution with the actual climax being trying to fix some problem caused by the misuse of said power either by themselves or another party.

    That said, in writing this I think I’ve come up with at least one more movie that fits the bill: Matilda. A smart-kid-mean-adults revenge story, yes, but one where Matilda’s “superpower” doesn’t come into play until she’s set herself up to take down the biggest bully around and make the school a better place. Matilda never considers using her powers for selfish reasons, and in the original book she had even lost them in the end once things were better and she received the mental stimulation she’d been lacking.


    I think @Delphi is actually describing two separate genres. I’m kind of a Blake Snyder fan, so bear with me while I use some of his definitions.

    Must have a hero with a special power — even if it’s just a mission to be great or to do good. The hero must be opposed by a nemesis, of equal or greater force, who is the self-made version of the hero. The hero must either surmount or succumb to the curse as they price for who they are.

    Out of the Bottle:
    These movies start with a wish that was either asked for by the hero or granted by another. There is a clearly seen need for the wish to magically deliver the hero from the ordinary. The spell that grants the wish must be made logical by following a set of rules. And the lesson learned is “Be careful what you wish for!” Life is good just as it is.

    This to me, “Out of the Bottle” explains Click, Bruce Almighty, Big, Freaky Friday, Love Potion #9, etc.

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    How about Looper for a secret superhero film? It started off as kind of a weak 12 Monkeys type experience, then suddenly the psychic powers B plot turned into Akira…


    @Maxacree Oh man! I totally forgot about The Serpent and the Rainbow! I saw it on TV when I was a kid! Around the same time as Philadelphia Experiment II… Man, all this bonus info and new suggestions – hitting ’em out the park!

    Yeah, Max is right – I was thinking of Winter’s Tale (lots of forgettable titles this year). I really wanted to see Cloud Atlas.


    I pretty much think that any Voodoo film is always based on one story or another. But as for strange based films really phycho, chainsaw massacre, and silence of the lambs got their cue from the killer Ed Gein. this of course isnt related to the second micro-sode topic but i like to mention it. But hell jodie foster was a super hero in that movie. As was Denzel in that funky time movie that i cant remember.

    Oh and it was hypothosised that the Lion mentioned above have jaws that were nat fully formed as to consume normal game and that human skin was soft enough for it.
    Also check out the story of Brotherhood of the Wolf, same as the Lions but a wolf.


    Probably one of the main prototypical super hero stories is Don Quixote. So I am going to suggest The Man of La Mancha is a secret super hero movie. The main character doesn’t have special powers, but his story arc is one that many many hero movies are based on. A man dreams of a better world and sets out to make it happen and doesn’t let anything get in his way, not even reality. With his faithful sidekick he battles monsters and injustice inspiring the people around him to be better than they are. His mission is dealt a heavy blow and for a time he loses his faith, he is powerless to face the dark world. Those he inspired though show him how much he has effected them so he overcomes his doubt and reclaims his mission but dies in the process.

    Next up is John Carter. It is presented as an action scifi movie but what is normal on his home world gives him super powers on mars. He uses his power to save the world. Sounds kind of like Superman or Martian Manhunter to me.

    A lot of martial arts films can fall into this category too. In particular I would suggest Kung Fu Hustle. Which is such a secret super hero movies that you don’t even know who the super hero is until the end. Spoilers ahead, you should really watch this movie if you haven’t. The hero starts out as a bumbling amoral thug with not notable abilities or skills and keeps finding himself mixed up with people with superpowers(crazy awesome martial arts abilities). He eventually manages to act as a decent human being, and gets beaten to the point of near death when he does. This unleashes his latent super powers and allows him to not only beat the final villain, but recruit him to his side.

    Steam: Garayur


    Yes, @Seven those Snyder definitions do a perfect job expressing what I was trying to say. If I had had more than a passing knowledge of the man’s work I probably would have brought him up myself. I think distinguishing between those two genres is an important point to make when trying to identify these secret superhero movies.


    so is marty mcfly a super hero, or is doc brown


    So using Snyder’s rules, where does “The Invention of Lying” fall?
    The nemesis is not derived from the protagonist’s ability, although there clearly is one, and the protagonist does make a “wish” so to speak for things to be different, but there is very little “things were better off before” lessons learned.

    Admittedly, there are aspects of both models in this film, and depending on your interpretation it could be Superhero, Out of the Bottle or both. I am leaning towards the “both” scenario. Which leads me to my next point.

    Is a “Secret Superhero” film defined by the same set of rules that a normal Superhero film is defined by?
    IF so then I think that there is nothing special about the film itself other than it is missing a label.
    A film like this would have the same feel and be presented in a similar action based format as any other super hero labeled film.

    What I am purposing is not that the two Snyder models are not correct, but to use the definitions given to create a third rule.

    A Secret Superhero movie consists of elements of both Superhero and Out of the Bottle genres in such a way that key elements from both models are present, but not clearly defined. The audience is left to believe that the film is predominately an Out of the Bottle film or some other genre (Drama, suspense, comedy, family etc) and the superhero aspects are either not answered or revealed at the end of the film.

    I will try to break down some of the films that are suggested as Secret Superhero movies so far.

    Unbreakable – Portrayed as a suspense movie. Samuel’s character’s perspective could be seen as and Out of the Bottle wish where the rule apply to how the hero is found. Superhero elements are revealed at the climax of the film.

    Invention of Lying – Neither Superhero nor OotB are defined, but the protagonist’s ability is granted as the result of a “wish” situation and life lessons are learned. Superhero elements are shown as he must overcome the antagonist to win the heart of the love interest.

    Matilda – Powers derived in a wish scenario with clear rules for their use. Antagonist is self made and directly opposes the hero’s goal and objectives. Because this is a kids film, there is no point where Matilda’s ‘responsibilities’ are addressed or a lesson learned on how life is better without telekinesis.

    About Time – Powers were derived from genetics not need or circumstance, but came with clear boundaries and rules. Responsibility is addressed, but not just as a consequence of the ability, but as a clear limitation. No clear nemesis other than the general life and death. There is a clear drive/goal for the hero in this case, and a lesson learned similar to an OotB film.


    Edit: Suggested films. (I’ve not had much time to think on these enough, but they keep popping in my head)
    Ghost Town –
    Kiki’s Delivery Service –
    Ponyo –
    Howl’s Moving Castle –


    two movies I see Secret Superhero films Terminator and Terminator 2(lets just use these two)

    The Terminator which is labled as a sci-fi thriller has kyle reese is from the future, is trained to fight killer robots in future, and has information about the future which he uses to protect sarah connor from Terminator

    And in a world where the trailer didn’t spoil the plot twist in Terminator 2 where the t800 is the good guy.
    T800 pretty much becomes a superhero at the end of the movie, by going out of his way not to kill anyone because John told him it was wrong, and mostly because he was willing to destroy him self to prevent judgement day

    It's about "SHOW TIME" so drop by


    Secret superhero contender-
    Iron Eagle: while often seen as the Deep Impact to Top Gun’s Armageddon, iron Eagle actually came out first. The hero is a rebellious teen whose dad is an Air Force pilot. Dad gets captured by a fictional middle eastern regime, so the son (who spends his time listening to royalty free rock music while acing flight simulators) convinces Lou Gosset Jr. To help him go on a rescue mission. They do a training montage, where we find out the kid is terrible at F16s until his theme song is playing, and then they go and defeat Magufinstan’s whole Air Force with two F16s to rescue dad.

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