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File:Super1 6509.jpg
Cquote1
"Shut up, crime!"
Frank/The Crimson Bolt
Cquote2
Cquote1
"In between the panels. Is that where we are right now?"
Libby/Boltie
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A 2010 Black Comedy written and directed by James Gunn, Super stars Rainn Wilson as Frank D'abo, a man whose wife, Sarah (Liv Tyler), falls under the spell of a charismatic drug dealer named Jacques/Jacques (Kevin Bacon). To deal with the trauma and take down Jacques, Frank fights crime using the superhero identity the Crimson Bolt, armed with a garish patchwork suit and a wrench. He is aided by an unstable comic book store employee, Libby (Ellen Page), who becomes his sidekick, Boltie.

It originally screened at the 2010 Toronto Film Festival and was released on 1 April 2011.

Tropes used in Super include:
  • Action Girl: Boltie
  • Advertised Extra: Linda Cardinelli gets top billing despite only being in one scene
  • Affably Evil - Libby. She'll help you pick out comics, invite you over to a cozy housewarming party, bandage you up when you've been shot in the leg, kill someone for (probably) keying a friend's car, save your life, go out shopping with you, and rape you. Really, she's less "affably evil," more "affably sociopathic".
  • All Crimes Are Equal: Molesting children? Savage beating. Stealing purses and attempting rape? ER for you, my friend. Cutting in line? Dude, you're going down.
  • All-Star Cast - Rainn Wilson, Ellen Page, Liv Tyler, Nathan Fillion, Kevin Bacon.
  • Anti-Hero
  • Animated Credits Opening
  • Armor Is Useless: Averted for Crimson Bolt. but not for Boltie
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Crimson Bolt beats people up for: drug dealing, child molesting, and cutting in line at the theater.
  • Ascended Fanboy - Libby. Subverted with Frank who, despite becoming a superhero, doesn't have much of an interest in comics and knows little about them.
  • Asshole Victim - Deconstructed with the couple who cut in line. They're obvious assholes with no likeable qualities introduced in their time onscreen, but that didn't even remotely justify what they got.
    • Played straight later on, when the public starts noticing that most of the Crimson Bolt's victims are child molesters, rapists, drug dealers, and murderers, cluing them in that he's not just a psychopath handing out beatings indiscriminately.
  • Attempted Rape - This happens to Sarah at the end with one of Jacques's 'clients.'
  • Ax Crazy - Frank when he gets deep into his mission as the Crimson Bolt, to the point of splitting open the heads of a man and woman who butt in line at a box office. Libby is this as well.
  • Badass Adorable Action Girl - Libby. Though how adorable she is while laughing hysterically while repeatedly stabbing a guy in the face might change.
    • Oddly, she still manages to seem adorable even when covered in other people's blood
  • Berserk Button: Cutting in line in front of Frank. Pretty much anything to Boltie.
  • Beware the Nice Ones - Frank.
  • Big Damn Heroes - Frank tries.
  • Bile Fascination: What the Holy Avenger comics seem to be in-universe.
  • Bittersweet Ending - Frank manages to rescue his wife and kill the drug-dealers, but Libby is shot down in the melee and Sarah later leaves him. The film ends on a somewhat hopeful note however as Sarah manages to overcome her drug addiction and better herself, and Frank ends up feeling better about himself having done something that in his mind validates his existence.
  • Black and Gray Morality - Jacques has no redeeming values whatsoever, but Frank and Libby are both pretty crazy as well.
  • Black Best Friend - Frank's co-worker at the Diner. The ending indicates that Frank becomes the Best Man at his wedding.
  • Black Comedy
  • Blatant Lies: Frank yammering to the detective after he notices him repeatedly looking at his closet.
  • Bloody Hilarious: Crimson Bolts wrench attacks look more funny than violent.
  • Book Ends: The movie begins with Frank recounting his two "perfect moments", and getting the idea to draw pictures of them as reminders. The movie ends with Frank looking at his perfect moment pictures again, which are now so numerous that they cover an entire wall and then some.
  • Bulletproof Vest - Reality Ensues. Frank's vest only stops a single pistol round shot from a fair distance, and even then Frank is clearly winded for several moments. Every other shot that hits him is in an unprotected area. And then there's Libby, who catches the first bullet aimed at her with her face, rendering her heavy, bulky vest useless.
  • The Cameo - Lloyd Kaufman of Troma fame (where James Gunn got his start) and William Katt of The Greatest American Hero both make appearances.
  • Car Fu: And now your legs are gone!
  • Catch Phrase - "Shut up, Crime!"
  • Celibate Hero - Frank turns down Libby's advances because he still considers himself to be a married man. She doesn't take 'no' for an answer.
  • Cheap Costume - they really do look like shit. Frank's is a patchwork mess, and Libby's is just cheap-looking spandex.
  • Chekhov's Gun - Frank's projectile-thingy.
      • Subverted It's clearly a weapon and it's not really surprising that he uses it but still fits that it's used to dispatch the Big Bad.
    • Subverted with Libby's bulletproof vest.
    • The plastic Bag Frank throws his costume in is later used to hide it while he is wearing it when he shows up to Libby's party.
  • Creator Cameo -Director James Gunn plays plays Satan (or Demonswill) in The Holy Avenger's public access television show.
  • Cloudcuckoolander - Libby has her moments.
  • Cool Car: Notably averted, Frank drives his completely normal car for his crime fighting.
  • Costumed Nonsuper Hero - Neither Frank or Libby have superpowers, and Frank specifically asks Libby to help him pick out comics featuring superheroes without powers for inspiration.
  • The Cowl: Crimson Bolt
  • Crusading Widower: Well, not quite a widower, but it plays out very much like this trope.
  • Cute and Psycho - Libby.
  • Dead Sidekick
  • Did Not Get the Girl - This happens to Frank in the end. He does get a new pet bunny, however.
  • Disproportionate Retribution - Frank beats a man half to death for butting into a line, then clubs a woman over the head for defending him. Later, Boltie nearly kills someone for (maybe) keying her friend's car.
  • Dissonant Laughter: Hoo boy, Libby...
  • Distressed Damsel - Sarah becomes this when Jacques gets her hooked on drugs again.
  • Dogged Nice Guy: Frank seems like this at first, but he takes far too much pleasure in his "crime fighting" and violence.
  • Doing It for the Art - It is a very low-budget independent film, so everyone involved was paid scale.
  • Double Standard Rape (Female on Male) - Averted, sort of. Libby raping Frank is portrayed as disturbing and uncomfortable, with Frank trying his very hardest to get her off of him. Afterwards, he immediately throws up. Even Libby looks disturbed at what she's done. However, the movie doesn't really deal with it, as Frank gets suddenly inspired to go rescue Sarah.
    • Played straight insofar as, with the genders reversed, it would certainly have destroyed any trace of sympathy anyone had for the rapist and raised a lot of eyebrows when the one who was just raped gets over it almost immediately and heads off to the final showdown with rapist in tow. It is at the very least Played for Laughs a whole lot more than Sarah's rape at the hands of a male client of Jacque's.
  • The Dragon - Abe, Jacques' lead henchman.
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?: Actually averted. When Frank helps someone, they are usually appreciative afterwards, even the woman who's neck was accidentally injured due to Frank's actions. Even though Sarah eventually leaves Frank, it's implied that she would have left much sooner if not for the obligation she felt towards him because of what he did for her.
  • Dueling Movies - With 2010's Kick-Ass, which had a similar premise of dark, realistic superheroics. Super is even darker and more grounded in reality. Both Mark Millar and Gunn are friends in real life, with the former defending the latter's work when accusations of copying came up (both films were developed around the same time independently of one another). Millar even screened Super at his own Kapow! comic convention in London.
    • There's a third movie to factor into this with Defendor, which played at festivals before either film came out. Super could be considered half-way between Kick-Ass and Defendor, or maybe even more similar to the latter in many aspects.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending
  • Enemy Rising Behind: Behind You...
  • Epic Fail - Frank's first outing as a superhero ends with him getting his ass kicked, falling into trash and fleeing with a clearly used diaper stuck to his ass.
  • Evil Gloating: Jacque stops short of gunning down an already wounded Frank to give him a vicious "The Reason You Suck" Speech which is enough to piss him off to extremes and provoke a Heroic Second Wind. Things end up very badly for Jacque after that...
  • Evilly Affable - Jacques compliments Frank on his eggs shortly before stealing his wife.
  • Even Evil Has Standards - Jacques's lead henchman Abe is visibly upset after Jacques sends Sarah up to be raped by his client.
  • Expy: The Holy Avenger, of Bibleman.
  • Fan Service - Ellen Page in spandex.
  • Fan Disservice - Ellen Page in spandex raping Rainn Wilson.
  • Genre Deconstruction - Yet another answer to the question, "what would a superhero be like in real life?" Travis Bickle. They would be Travis Bickle.
  • Girl with Psycho Weapon - Libby straps a pair of Wolverine Claws to her hand.
  • God - Voiced by Rob Zombie, of all people.
  • Gorn: Boltie ends up with a wound not unlike the T-1000, unlike him, she's human.
  • Groin Attack - Shut up, Crime...
  • Hannibal Lecture: Jacques tries one on Frank after the Groin Attack. Frank just tells him to Shut UP, Hannibal and stabs him to death
  • Heroic Comedic Sociopath - The Crimson Bolt and (even more so, due to a complete lack of remorse) Boltie.
  • Hey, It's That Guy!- Dwight Schrute, inspired by Malcolm Reynolds's evangelical Christian TV show, teams up with Juno to save his wife Arwen from the clutches of evil drug dealer Ren McCormick and his minion Mr. Svenning.
  • Honorary Uncle: Frank ends up as this to Sarah's kids.
  • Hypocritical Humor- After telling Frank not to make a joke about her name ("Libby's on your label") after she introduces herself, Libby makes fun of him when he tells her his name.
  • I Surrender, Suckers: Jacque immediately hands over Sarah when Frank reaches him, and then tries to appease Frank by noting that he personally killed the guy that tried to rape Sarah(obviously leaving out the fact that Jacque killed him for different reasons entirely). Then, once it's clear that Frank is distracted, Jacque starts shooting.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy - At least arguably so. A couple of months after the gunfight at Jacques's ranch, Sarah leaves Frank, but this time he doesn't mind because she's happy (unlike when she's drawn into Jacques's drug ring).
  • Jumped At the Call - A call straight from God, no less.
  • Karma Houdini: Frank does some pretty messed up things throughout the film, and while he doesn't get quite the ending he wanted he ends up fine.
  • Kick the Dog: Jacques sending Sarah up with his Scary Black Man drug client.
  • Kid Sidekick - Boltie to the Crimson Bolt. She's less of a Kid Hero than a Psycho Supporter/Poisonous Friend (Yes, compared to Libby, the lunatic who bashes in people's heads in with a wrench is an idealist).
    • It's also pointed out that, being 22 years old, Libby is really only a kid when compared to Frank.
  • Kill the Cutie - Poor Libby. Sure she was crazy, but....
  • Knife Nut: While it's no more prominent than any of his other weapons, the way Frank uses his knife should more than qualify him for this trope. Basically, he comes up at an opponent already distracted by another injury, and stab him in the torso over and over again. Both times, he's interrupted by a scene change, so the audience never sees how long Frank goes on doing this.
  • Little Miss Badass: Boltie
  • Looks Like Jesus - Nathan Fillion requested that the Holy Avenger have long hair because of this.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Whether Frank is actually having visions or if he is simply hallucinating is never revealed.
  • Mood Whiplash: The whole movie.
  • More Dakka: While gun shopping, Libby tries out a pink shotgun, Frank takes it away and hands her a Bazooka.
  • Mission From God: Frank thinks he's on this; it's not entirely clear whether he is or not. A case could be made for either possibility.
  • No Kill Like Overkill: An extremely disturbing example occurs at the end when Frank starts to massacre Jacques's gang; he stabs a guy to death after setting him on fire, he blows three guys away with a pipe bomb, blasts two clearly dead bodies with a shotgun, blasts a guy who lost his arms in the pipe bomb attack and was begging not to be killed, headshots a gangster in the house, smashes Michael Rooker's head into jelly on the corner of a fireplace foundation, and stabs Jacques over and over until the screen fades to red. Sweet. Baby. Jesus.
  • Oh Crap: Jacque gets a hell of a good one when he realizes that Frank is really going to go through with stabbing him to death.
    • Behind You
    • The drug dealer that was Frank's first target get one of these when Frank comes back for him... this time with a wrench.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: Frank. The gangsters instantly recognize him in costume and it takes the police detective about five seconds to work it out from a photo-fit picture.
    • Frank's beard when posing as a college student merely confuses the librarian.
  • Parody - The Holy Avenger is a parody of Bibleman and other Religious Edutainment.
  • Pay Evil Unto Evil: Frank sees himself as doing this.
  • Playing Against Type - One of the reasons why Ellen Page took on the film was because she was tired of getting typecast in Juno-type roles.
  • Police Are Useless- Played with. The police don't listen to Frank at the beginning of the movie, but only because he has no evidence that anything criminal is going on, and Frank never tries going to them again afterward. The one detective we're shown gets killed pretty unceremoniously, but mostly due to dumb luck on the part of Jacque's mooks.
  • Politically-Incorrect Villain - Jacques refers to his 'business partner' after shooting him as a 'nigger'.
  • Black Comedy Rape: Of a very dark sort.
  • Reality Ensues - It's hard to survive a barrage of gunfire...
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: Averted. Despite the fact that James Gunn and his wife Jenna Fischer divorced before production started, the film was written before that happened and as a result, Frank's marriage troubles do not parallel the director's own. In fact, it was Fischer's idea that Gunn make the film.
    • The scene in which Libby rapes Frank was based on an actual encounter in Gunn's life with a stripper.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: After Libby gets killed, Frank goes absolutely batshit. It is one of the most disturbing, distressing, depressing things you will ever see.
  • Sacrificial Lion: Boltie.
  • Scary Black Man: Jacques's drug dealer client.
  • Shout-Out: To Bibleman (the Holy Avenger t.v. show) and Fletcher Hanks (the Holy Avenger Comic Book looks like his work).
  • Spoiler Title: One of the songs on the soundtrack is titled "Libby goes down". What makes this frustrating is that this song plays for a good chunk of the climax and could have easily been called something less spoilery.
  • Stylistic Suck: The Holy Avenger TV show and Comic Book, based on the character of Bibleman and the work of bizarre Golden Age comic artist Fletcher Hanks, respectively.
  • Superhero Packing Heat: Averted at first, but the heroes load up for the final battle.
  • Super Zeroes
  • Ten-Minute Retirement: Frank asks for a sign to know whether he should stop, it comes later than he expects so he has to return for his outfit.
  • This Is Sparta: You don't BUTT IN LINE!
  • Thou Shalt Not Kill: Averted by Frank, and even more-so by Boltie.
    • Though Frank did object to Boltie trying to kill the keying guy. It's not clear whether it was the severity of the crime(or lack thereof), the fact that Boltie didn't seem sure they had the right guy, or this trope that was the cause.
  • Took a Level In Badass: Frank goes from barely being able to take on one mook, to slaughtering an entire security team.
  • Tragic Hero: Frank
  • Ugly Guy, Hot Wife - Justified by the fact that Sarah is a fragile, recovering drug addict who uses Frank as a source of stability.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Jacque goes from being self-assured and affable to practically frothing at the mouth when The Crimson Bolt's presence scares off his client.
  • What Do You Mean It's Not Heinous?: "You don't BUTT IN LINE!"
  • What Happened to the Mouse? - After the police officer gets murdered in Frank's house, it's never brought up or referenced to again in any way after that. I guess no one thought it was worth investigating.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Frank gives one of these to Libby after she almost kills a guy for keying her friend's car.
  • Wrench Whack: Crimson Bolt's Weapon of Choice.
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