Anne Hathaway’s first foray into the world of superhero movies came via Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight Rises” where she played Selina Kyle/Catwoman. She was one of the film’s strongest points, helping Batman fight off Bane’s threat. “Colossal” on the other hand isn’t a mainstream flick as much, yet it packs a lot of depth and connective tissue for comic book geeks to connect with.
This particular film has a sci-fi flavor to it as Hathaway’s character, Gloria, discovers that her actions end up manifesting in the shape of a giant Kaiju in Seoul, South Korea. In addition to the personal turmoil in her life, she now has to contend with this newfound power and a world living in fear of it. That said, CBR looks at 15 parallels which make this an epic superhero movie!
SPOILER WARNING: Major spoilers ahead for “Colossal”
15. HUMAN & RELATABLE
Gloria simply wanted to live her life, recovering from a broken relationship and being forced to mature as an adult. Her childish ways threw her personal life and career into disarray so when she discovered that she had this power, it was quite a trip watching her struggle and attempt to cope with a cool head. It was very human watching her trying to control and harness her ability, and just how her messed-up life was causing ripple effects, thus making the Kaiju a potential danger.
Gloria’s story and the manner in which she had to hone this unwanted gift (or curse, depending on your perspective) made you feel for her. In terms of being relatable, she was scared and in a state of panic, just like any of us would be if we found out we could generate a Kaiju avatar that could wreck cities and destroy millions of lives. Eventually, she went from being reluctant to mapping out when the Kaiju would appear and how to make it non-threatening.
14. DEMONS IN A BOTTLE
A main theme in this film was alcoholism. It was destroying Gloria’s life and kept rearing its head when she attempted to repair things. Director Nacho Vigalondo brilliantly played up her addiction to it, especially when she knew she had to curb it so that the Kaiju wouldn’t wreak havoc. It touched a lot of notes from the famous Tony Stark “Iron Man” arc — “Demon In A Bottle” — which was about a hero’s conflict with drinking, which was also slightly addressed in Jon Favreau’s movies.
It wasn’t just about Gloria though, as Oscar’s (Jason Sudeikis) alcoholism grew as well. From his damaged relationship, to being unable to ignite a relationship with Gloria, to his ego now growing due to the ability to control his monstrous powers in Seoul — everything here placed him in a world of disbelief and hate where he sought solace in liquor, losing any care he had in the world for his friends and innocents in general. Vigalondo’s story with him was all about downward spirals, spurring Gloria on to overcome.
13. BEST FRIEND TURNS EVIL
This is a trope we’ve seen a lot in comics, television and film. “Smallville” did this perfectly with Clark Kent and Lex Luthor, charting their destiny to face each other as foe, not the best friends who grew up together. We also saw this in “Doctor Strange” recently where Baron Mordo helped train Strange but lost faith in him and the overall mystical movement, turning on them viciously. Gloria’s bestie, Oscar, follows the same route but his switch to villain is much more selfish.
He starts drinking more when he realizes she wants his friend, Joel, and not him. Despite helping her get her life on track, Oscar tries to exert control and bully her around out of jealousy, especially when he finds out that he too is linked to the source of her powers. This puts him on an ego trip and he begins to exhibit dark, violent and megalomaniacal behavior. He lashes out at all his friends, starts recklessly endangering lives and uses his abilities to blackmail Gloria.
12. THE GIANT ROBOT
Yup, Oscar’s powers allowed him to manifest in Seoul as well, only in the form of a mammoth robot. It started off as a friendly rivalry when he discovered he had these abilities which inextricably linked him to Gloria. However, instead of bringing her closer to him, she wasn’t interested and his own failed relationships and self-deprecation began to pop up with the robot. His drinking and overall hateful vibe saw him using it to cause damage in South Korea due to all these failures in life, inflicting his own hurt on others.
It wasn’t a “Hulk smash!” city-tearing job like Godzilla fighting mecha-monsters, but rather the robot was there to intimidate and trick Gloria into doing whatever Oscar wanted. He even used it to goad her into abandoning her mission to possibly reconcile with her ex, Tim (Dan Stevens) — else he would use it again to stomp buildings and crush people to death. It wasn’t a quirky, cute robot from the ’70s and ’80s anymore, but now a full-fledged tool of terror and destruction.
11. VARYING FILM TONES
The first act in this movie felt like a typical romantic-comedy with Gloria picking her life up a la “Sweet Home Alabama” with Oscar at his bar and in the company of his friends. He brings her furniture and helps her get a job there but the more the alcoholism angle factors in, the crazier and darker the story gets. It swings to a psychological drama in the second act, creeping up as a slow burner, as Oscar turns into the villain, with a scene of him brutally beating up Gloria that punctuates the transition.
The tones and moods never felt consistent once the lightheartedness went, flipping the script in a manner similar to “District 9” or “Kick-Ass.” Sudeikis’ Oscar emphasized this as he went from funny and likeable to someone who was absolutely down for berating friends and abusing women. The final act is one of suspense as Gloria plots how to defeat Oscar, who’s basically holding Seoul as hostage, ready to kill innocents if she rejected his obsession with control.
10. WITH GREAT POWER…
Gloria only cared for herself and lived like a teen. However, after getting dumped and moving back home, she knew she had to fix her life to move on. As a failed writer, it wasn’t easy, but she found a foundation with Oscar’s crew. The Kaiju power almost destabilized things, but she playfully found a way of making it work, even penning a message to the public that she meant no harm. However, when Oscar turned on her, instead of running, she realized that with this power, indeed there was a great responsibility.
Oscar killed innocents with his robot and promised to continue his rampage if she didn’t stay beside him, and even though Gloria could have gone back with Tim, she chose not to flee. Instead, she concocted a plan to fix things and defeat Oscar. Even when she had just discovered her powers, the simple act of mapping out the playground as the guide to how the Kaiju moved in Seoul showed she was embracing said responsibility in trying to preserve human life. The Oscar factor was now bringing this full-circle.
9. SYMPATHETIC VILLAIN
Now, while Oscar became downright vile and despicable, early on he was such a sweetheart. He tried protecting Gloria and secretly the furniture he was outfitting her with was from a relationship which failed and broke him. However, he seemed genuine and it didn’t appear like he was making her feel obligated to be with him. That changed as time progressed, but the way he looked out for her, got her working at the bar and cared for her did seem like he was in love with her, in a non-creepy manner.
Even after he started to show symptoms of breaking bad, when Gloria found him at home living in a mess while passing off all the furniture to her, you couldn’t help but feel an air of sympathy for him. He was clearly trying to get rid of the past and its memories, while hoping Gloria would compensate for the hole that was left in his life. Sadly, he took her rejection to heart and went astray.
8. DEADLY MISTAKES
The case of a hero making mistakes with deadly repercussions is another comic book trope we see ever so often, most notably with Peter Parker when he let a robber go free. This bandit would then kill his Uncle Ben and spur him into becoming Spider-Man. It’s more subtle with Gloria here, as her drunken antics on the playground when the creature was manifesting (around 8:00 am every morning), saw her trip and fall in the dirt, which translated into the Kaiju falling and killing thousands in Seoul.
This incident really started to help her turn away from alcohol as it was a metaphor for how substance abuse wrecks your life and endangers others. She wasn’t taking her power seriously up until this calamity, but now she tried hard to quit drinking and passing out near the playground on a bench. Gloria learned the value of life through this error in judgement, which Oscar tried to expose later on in the blackmail process.
7. ENGINEERED BY A COMIC BOOK WRITER
If Nacho Vigalondo’s name looked familiar to you when it came up as writer and director of “Colossal,” it’s because he was the co-author in terms of storyline for Mark Millar’s “Supercrooks.” The book came out from Marvel’s Icon imprint and focused on a bunch of supervillains who were drawn together for one big heist against a kingpin in Europe so as to raise cash for one of their own. It was similar to “Ocean’s Twelve” and cemented how big a geek Vigalondo was, as he also made it clear he wanted to direct the film.
While there hasn’t been much movement on that front, Vigalondo didn’t lose momentum as he wanted to make an homage to “Godzilla,” one of his favorite pieces of art. Thus, he created this endearing Kaiju story and tied it to real-world issues. He wanted to use the sci-fi genre to tell of internal wars (a.k.a. substance abuse) as opposed to the bomb-dropping monster fights one assumed would occur between a giant robot and Kaiju.
6. THE BIG SACRIFICE
Gloria clawed her way through a lot and, in doing so, she not only redeemed herself to Tim, but also to the world as she ensured that she kept the Kaiju in check. However, when the blackmail hammer fell upon her, she knew she had to deal with Oscar so as to avoid the loss of life. Tim was waiting for her to leave with him as he was unaware what was going on in her life, but instead of doing so, she jumped on a plane and headed to Seoul.
This was one of the final chances she was offered to salvage her relationship but it was very apparent Gloria was no longer selfish. The lives of the public mattered more to her now and she would do anything for them, including jeopardizing the happiness she worked so long to achieve. This was the crowning statement of her recovery and painted her as someone who truly endured a rebirth.
5. THE MASSIVE KAIJU
Vigalondo was all about paying tribute to “Godzilla” with his Kaiju and at first, when we saw it on the news and didn’t know it was Gloria, things felt intimidating a la “Cloverfield.” It was scary because we didn’t see it close up. However, when Gloria began to exhibit control over it, its face was actually very cute and it showed that Vigalondo wanted to have fun with the genre.
The Kaiju concept is usually done in action flicks a la “Pacific Rim” so it was a breath of fresh air to see it used as a mental extension more than a physical projection for such a serious issue. It was well executed, especially with Hathaway delivering a solid performance as Gloria. The end was even more profound as Gloria shocked fans with how the monster was used to tame Oscar, showing the director always wanted the story to be unconventional. Watching Gloria make it dance in the early parts of the movie was so funny, reiterating how Vigalondo’s grasp was hugely different to other directors.
4. THE FINAL CONFRONTATION
Some comic book movies don’t go for all-out action in their finales and the climax of “Colossal” was no different. It never painted itself as an action flick so this was unsurprising. “Doctor Strange” had the title character beating Dormammu via mental trickery and Gloria followed suit here when she went to Seoul. She predicted that the Kaiju would swap spots with her and it ended up on the playground instead. As she controlled it in the USA and got it to take out Oscar, the ripple effects were invisibly seen in Korea.
She dispatched Oscar when he showed he had no remorse for turning evil and Vigalondo showed his subtle chops behind the camera. Many were expecting a big showdown, but instead it was something more cerebral and emotive. The movie didn’t ever take the popcorn and blockbuster route and so Vigalondo shaped the ending as a low-key one that had minimal brawling because he knew his movie was all about the mind and wanted to show Gloria’s emotional triumph against the odds.
3. GREAT FIGHTS
Despite not having a big bash at the end, the final scene was pretty solid in terms of how the battle went down with Gloria and Oscar. The Kaiju picked him up and this led to Oscar’s robot levitating in mid-air with an unseen grip on it. The S.F.X. here was smoothly done and as Gloria placed him to the Kaiju’s mouth, seeing her decide he wasn’t worth eating was one of the movie’s most awesome scenes. Instead she flung him, and by extension the robot, away to their demise to prove she was better than ingesting his corrupted soul.
It was in stark contrast to when Oscar beat her up on the playground when he saw she was offering resistance to his wicked ways. This scene was more of a bar brawl, but it had impact as we’re not used to seeing females being assaulted like that on-screen. Vigalondo knew what he was doing by how he fashioned his fights and when to bring violence to the forefront, as both sequences garnered strong emotional responses despite being stylistically different.
2. OTHERWORLDLY ORIGINS
We suspended our disbelief when we saw Oscar’s robot appearing in tandem with Gloria’s Kaiju because the story was that good. It didn’t appear that any origins would be traced because they both didn’t remember anything, until the end when Gloria recalled a lightning strike when they were kids climbing a fence to retrieve a lost diorama. She held her Kaiju toy and Oscar held a toy robot, which explained (albeit vaguely) the nature of their appearances.
We still never found out if this was mystical or an alien occurrence but at least some backstory was provided. It also showed Oscar’s temper tantrums and illustrated how badly he needed praise and attention in life. It felt a tad like “Chronicle” in how it started their coming-of-age story, but also like “The Flash” because of how the lightning struck. What made it even more comic worthy was that even at the end, the nature of these powers still remained so obscure.
1. A FLAWED HERO
Gloria being flawed is definitely how a lot of heroes are written. They start off like this and make a 180 in their journey. We saw it in “Kingsman: The Secret Service” too as these folks never wanted to be heroes. It fell into their laps and they reluctantly adapted. Gloria being a screw-up was more than enough for her plate and it showed as she fumbled around with her abilities.
Adding that to her messy love life, woeful living arrangements and inability to write stories, you can see how things were spiralling downward. She didn’t fix most of these problems by the film’s end, but what she did was focus on the biggest part of her life and that was the Kaiju. She had to address this and ensure no flaws or dangers persisted, even outside of Oscar, because she knew things could get lethal if left unattended. Seeing her remain flawed as she pondered a drink before the credits rolled summed up that she was still learning, and this made her feel even more real.
Let us know in the comments if you dug “Colossal” and what were the best parts for you!
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