The summer movie season is upon us and thus far, one thing is clear: Superheroes still sell. While The Mummy, Alien: Covenant and Baywatch all fizzled pretty much right out of the gate, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and Wonder Woman have been the only surefire hits of the summer so far, and Spider-Man: Homecoming seems all but set to join their ranks. While studios are hesitant to take any chances with other genres, nowadays it’s clear that even with rough reviews, costumed heroes can be a license to print money.
But what’s a studio to do when they don’t have a stable of classic comic book characters, but still want to cash in on the superhero craze? Simple, they just create their own. Sometimes, in the case of Unbreakable or The Incredibles, these characters become parts of the cultural discourse and spawn franchises all their own. Other times…well, they’re The Adventures of Pluto Nash. But every once in a while, the end result is so bizarre that the “superhero” stays in the mind long after the film itself is forgotten. From a magical “whooping’ belt” to a super sense of smell, we’re counting down the strangest superheroes of cinema.
15. THE GUARDIANS
Did you ever watch Guardians of the Galaxy and wish it had worse effects and was infused with patriotic nostalgia for a failed socialist state? Then you’re in luck! After August Kuratov threatens the safety of contemporary Russia with an army of clones, the government has no choice but to reassemble a tam of Cold War-era superhuman to fight back.
Sure, three of the team have your standard powers: control of water, control of earth, super agility. But then there’s Ursus the werebear. Of course, turning into a bear is one thing, controlling how much of oneself becomes a bear is a whole different story; the film notably contains one scene wherein Ursus maintains a human body to fire a machine gun whilst inexplicably giving himself a bear head. Any chance we can get a special investigator to look into why Russia did this, too?
14. THE TOXIC AVENGER
When Lloyd Kaufman was scouting locations for Rocky (yes, that Rocky), he got the idea that a gymnasium would be a good setting for a horror film. How he went from there to an awkward nerd named Melvin Junko falling into toxic waste while wearing a tutu and becoming the Toxic Avenger, only he knows. But luckily for us he did.
The Toxic Avenger was a huge success, singlehandedly elevating this tiny indie outlet to cult status, spawning four sequels, an animated series, a Marvel comics series, and even an off-broadway musical. Though the studio had other successes, Toxie remains the mainstay and mascot, and talks have floated for years of a mainstream movie reboot, with names like Guillermo del Toro and Arnold Schwarzenegger circling the project. The Toxic Avenger is proof that it’s not a matter of budget or name-recognition; if you’re sincere and want to tell a good story, folks will want to hear it.
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