Before comic book franchises ruled the land, filmmakers were struggling to find ways to successfully bring comics to the big screen. The challenges that came up were lack of budget, tone, even finding ways to translate the source material accurately without feeling restrained by it. Some films, like 1989’s Batman, hit a home run, whereas other films, like 1997’s Batman and Robin, felt too campy and silly to be enjoyed. Spawn was similarly flawed, but still had some very enjoyable moments, such as The Violator, played by John Leguizamo under tons of make up and prosthetics. And then there’s 1999’s Mystery Men. Although the film wasn’t well received at the time, in retrospect, it has found a cult following and at very least deserves a second viewing. But what are the titular Mystery Men doing today?
The comic book Mystery Men made their debut in Flaming Carrot #16 in 1987. They were guest stars in the Carrot’s book and were a band of lovable losers. Bringing them to the big screen was difficult. Kinka Usher directed this film, which wound up being his only feature-length offering, before going back to directing television commercials. But what about the cast? We at CBR take a look at Mystery Men and ask: Where are they now?
16. CASANOVA FRANKENSTEIN (GEOFFREY RUSH)
Casanova Frankenstein was such a good villain that Captain Amazing’s alter ego got him free from an insane asylum so they could do battle again. Like most people in the Mystery Men Universe, Casanova didn’t have any obvious powers, but he did have a mind so brilliant that he drove other scientists insane with the math needed to create his Psycho-Frakulator. He even has enough fighting prowess to take on Mister Furious, but admittedly that’s not too hard.
Casanova Frankenstein was played by Geoffrey Rush, who, outside of Mystery Men, has been nominated for an Oscar three times, including Best Supporting Actor in both Shakespeare In Love and The King’s Speech. He is perhaps best known to modern audiences for playing Captain Hector Barbossa in The Pirates of the Caribbean films. His most recent project has him taking on Albert Einstein himself in the television series Genius.
15. THE BLUE RAJA (HANK AZARIA)
The Blue Raja is neither an Indian prince nor does he even wear blue, but he does have an uncanny skill at hurling… silverware? To be clear, he’s not going to throw knives, he uses forks and spoons. In an awesome display of efficiency he was able to throw a fork into Casanova Frankenstein’s limousine, have it bounce off the interior of the doors and wedge itself in the button that raises the windows, locking everyone in the car. Not too shabby!
The Blue Raja was played by Hank Azaria, and if he kind of sounds familiar, that’s because he’s been providing voices for such characters as Moe, Apu, and Comic Book Guy on The Simpsons since way back in 1989. Besides playing Gargamel in the live action Smurfs films, he can also be seen in the IFC TV series Brockmire, which originated as a sketch on Funny or Die in 2010.
14. THE BOWLER (JANEANE GAROFALO)
The Bowler was one of the few people on Mystery Men with actual super(ish) powers. The spirit of her father, Carmine, was trapped inside her bowling ball, allowing it to be fantastically thrown and return, much like Thor’s hammer, Mjolnir. She impresses everyone when she shows up for tryouts at The Shoveler’s house.
Janeane did a great job considering the bowling ball was 30 pounds and she had no previous bowling experience. At one point you could buy a version of the Bowler’s actual ball; it was made by a company called Ebonite. After Mystery Men, Garofalo starred in such tv shows as The West Wing, 24 and Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior, as well as 2001’s cult classic, Wet Hot American Summer, which recently had its second TV series sequel appear on Netflix. Her main love remains stand-up, and she still does comedy tours nationwide.
13. THE SHOVELER (WILLIAM H. MACY)
As ridiculous as the Shoveler character may seem, shovel fighting had to be done often by the infantry during World War II. Infantrymen would dig ditches and if attacked would use their shovel to fight if they didn’t have time to arm themselves.
The Shoveler was played by William H. Macy, who is currently playing the character of Frank Gallagher on the Showtime series Shameless. In film, he has had long-term collaborations with David Mamet, starring in State and Main and Spartan. He has even expanded his talents into directing, helming the film Rudderless and the soon to be released Krystal. Although Macy was hilarious as the Shoveler, it’s hard to believe that at one point Danny DeVito was going to play the character (as well as possibly direct).
12. SPLEEN (PAUL REUBENS)
Cursed by a gypsy, The Spleen is someone who basically has weaponized farts. He looks gross, his powers are gross, and you never want to pull his finger. Because of his heinousness, he’s reluctantly accepted on the team. The Spleen was played by Paul Reubens (of Pee-Wee Herman fame), whose career took something of a dive in 1991 (look it up if it doesn’t ring any bells).
However, he made a triumphant comeback with a number of projects including small parts in Batman Returns, Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Mystery Men and Blow. He made a return to the stage in 2011 with The Pee-Wee Herman Show on Broadway and returned to the small screen as Mr. Vargas on The Blacklist and Elijah Van Dahl on the TV series Gotham. Reubens has also made quite a name for himself as a voice actor, plying his pipes for things like Star Wars Rebels and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
11. TONY POMPADOUR (EDDIE IZZARD)
Casanova Frankenstein employed a number of gangs, including the Furriers, The Frat Boys, and The Disco Boys. The Disco Boys were formed by Tony Pompadour and Tony C. Tony P. has no superpowers, just an outfit that harkens back to the 1970s, gold and silver handguns, and an undying love for disco. Pompadour makes it personal when he reveals that he killed the current Bowler’s father.
Eddie Izzard continues to be remembered as one of the UK’s best comedians, as well as making a host of appearances on TV and in Film, including shows like the ill-fated Powers and the incredibly popular Hannibal. In his personal life, Izzard has raised millions of dollars through charity works and has become a regular talking head in British politics.
10. INVISIBLE BOY (KEL MITCHELL)
Invisible Boy is one of the few members of the Mystery Men that has actual superpowers (sort of). His name clearly articulates his powers, but the catch is that he can only be invisible if no one is looking at him. Seems silly, but his power does help the Mystery Men disarm a motion-activated weapon in Casanova Frankenstein’s mansion. Oddly enough, the character of Invisible Boy was made up for the movie and does not exist in the comic.
IB most likely looks familiar to our readers of a certain age: he’s Kel from the comedy duo Kenan and Kel! Their show ended a year after the movie came out, and after his comedic partner, Kenan Thompson, joined Saturday Night Live in 2003, the dynamic former duo pursued solo acting careers. Currently Kel stars in the family comedy Game Shakers, a sitcom about the gaming industry.
9. PENCILHEAD (DOUG JONES)
The Shoveler, The Blue Raja, Mr. Furious, The Spleen, and Invisible Boy needed fellow superheroes they could count on, so to make sure they were getting the best of the best, they held auditions by the Shoveler’s pool. Among those that showed up to try outs was Pencilhead, along with his aptly named partner, Son of Pencilhead.
Does Pencilhead look familiar? Probably not, because he would later go on to don copious amounts of prosthetics to play Abe Sapien in 2004’s Hellboy. He would continue to cover his face and play Fauno in Pan’s Labyrinth and even the Silver Surfer in the 2007 sequel Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer. For those eager to see his uncovered face, you’ll have to wait a little longer, but you do get to see Jones play Lt. Saru in the new Star Trek: Discovery series!
8. THE WAFFLER (DANE COOK)
Also showing up to the audition at The Shoveler’s pool was The Waffler. He had what most people didn’t have that day: a theme song. “Gold and crispy! Bad guys are history!” The Waffler wielded The Griddle of Justice (a waffle iron that was hot even though it suspiciously wasn’t plugged in) and “truth syrup” which was thankfully low-fat. Waffler, despite having a theme song, was not accepted into the group.
Dane Cook continued to act after Mystery Men and starred in a number of movies including Good Luck Chuck and My Best Friend’s Girl. Dane starred in a tv series called Next Caller that filmed four episodes but unfortunately none of them ever aired. Even if the show never sees the light of day, Dane is still active as a stand-up comedian touring all throughout the nation.
7. MONICA (CLAIRE FORLANI)
If anyone was going to tame the heart of Mr. Furious, it was going to be Monica, a waitress at the local diner often frequented by Mister Furious. She was played by Claire Forlani. Furious makes flirtatious advances towards her, but she is literally not impressed. Furious continues to be macho around her but Monica eventually gives him the confidence he needs by saying to just be himself.
After Mystery Men, Claire found herself on both the big and small screens. She co-starred with Jackie Chan in the action film The Medallion and with Elijah Wood and Charlie Hunnam in Green Street Hooligans. On tv she starred as Dr. Peyton Driscoll in CSI:NY, Queen Igraine in Camelot, Lauren Hunter in NCIS: Los Angeles, and Alicia Brown in the reboot of the Hawaii Five-0 series.
6. VIC WEEMS (RICKY JAY)
Did anyone else get a Booster Gold vibe from Captain Amazing? Although he was Champion City’s protector, Captain Amazing also wanted to protect his image as the ultimate superhero. For him it was less about doing good and more about looking good, and his publicist, Vic Weems, only fueled his ego. One of the bigger endorsement deals that Captain Amazing had (which he sported as patches on his uniform, turning him into a walking billboard) was for Pepsi, which Vic secured for him.
Although Ricky Jay has acted in The Prestige as well as the X-Flies, what’s perhaps more interesting is that he held a world record? Until recently, Jay held the record for being able to throw a playing card 190 feet! This skill comes thanks to his being a magician! He still performs on stage in a one-man show where he does card tricks and sleight of hand.
5. NOT-SO-GOODIE-MOB MEMBER (CEELO GREEN)
Okay, you may want to sit down for this one because it gets kind of meta. As mentioned before, Casanova Frankenstein brought together a number of gangs, with one of them called the Not-So-Goodie Mob. However, in real life, they were called the Goodie Mob, with one of the members being CeeLo Green!
After performing with the Goodie Mob, CeeLo partnered with DJ Danger Mouse to form the duo Gnarls Barkley. Besides releasing a slew of albums, he served as a judge and coach on The Voice. He was on the show for four years before leaving, but recently said that he’d love to make a return to the reality show. For a brief period CeeLo had a reality show of his own called CeeLo Green’s The Good Life that ran for six episodes.
4. THE SPHINX (WES STUDI)
At first glance, the Sphinx is a wise master. He trains the heroes with wisdom similar to that of such iconic teachers as Yoda and Splinter. However, Mister Furious is able to see through the smoke and mirrors and realizes that The Sphinx is merely using formulaic phrases. “You must master your rage, or your rage will become your master!”
The Sphinx does help the team make new costumes and helps the Mystery Men storm Casanova Frankenstein’s mansion. In real life, Wes is one of the busiest actors in the industry, having acted in over 90 films and television shows! He has appeared regularly on shows like Penny Dreadful while also providing a significant amount of voice-over work for both the big and small screen. In 2009 he directed and wrote a short film entitled Goodnight My Zombie.
3. CAPTAIN AMAZING (GREG KINNEAR)
Greg Kinnear got his start as a newscaster on the newly launched E! Entertainment Television channel back in 1991, but has since jumped into a steady career on the big screen. Kinnear played Captain Amazing, a superhero who wanted to protect Champion City as well as look good doing it (but not necessarily in that order).
Kinnear continues to grab interesting, diverse roles. He played Bob Crane in the 2002 biopic Auto Focus and half of a siamese twin (opposite Matt Damon) in Stuck on You. In 2017 he’ll be starring and making his directorial debut in the comedic film The Philosophy of Phil, but perhaps his most famous and critically acclaimed role was as the patriarch of a dysfunctional family in 2006’s Little Miss Sunshine, for which he and his cast-mates won a Screen Actor’s Guild award.
2. FRAT BOY (MICHAEL BAY)
Yes, you read that correctly. If you blink, you’ll miss a cameo by the man himself, Michael Bay. One of the many absurd gangs collected by Casanova Frankenstein is The Frat Boys. Their name describes these collective of bros wearing white collared shirts under fraternity sweaters. One member asks: “Dude, can we bring brewskis?” That is the Bayster saying that line.
You know this gentleman as the director of The Transformers series, as well as other big Hollywood flicks like Bad Boys II and 13 Hours, but do you know about him as the actor? Bay can be seen (mostly uncredited) in a variety of movies and television shows. He was a truck passenger in Transformers: Age of Extinction and as himself in the TV show The Neighbors. Hey, if this directing thing doesn’t work out he could always act (cue explosion).
1. MISTER FURIOUS (BEN STILLER)
When Mister Furious gets angry he… shouts a lot. No, rage doesn’t give him the strength of the Incredible Hulk, but due to a misunderstanding people think that Furious pushed a bus out of the way (it was already moving at the time). He’s not that good of a leader and he gets confused easily, but he has a lot of heart and in the end that’s enough to rally the troops, beat the bad guy, and save the city.
As an actor, Ben Stiller over the years has starred in several huge movie franchises, such as Meet The Parents, the Night At The Museum films and Zoolander I and II. On the small screen, he also had reoccurring roles on Arrested Development, Curb Your Enthusiasm, and Burning Love. Stiller is also a successful director, helming the critically acclaimed Tropic Thunder and an upcoming episode of the television series Escape at Dannamora.
Who is your favorite member of Mystery Men? Post your comments below!
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