Actor/writer Rob Benedict enthusiastically took to the podium at Comic-Con International in San Diego to introduce his short film The Sidekick, an offbeat tale about superheroes and discovering your purpose in life.
The film opens with sidekick Max McCabe (Benedict) botching the rooftop rescue of superhero Captain Wonder (Ron Livingston), only to plummet to the street below. A few seconds later, Max shouts that he’s OK to his clearly annoyed mentor.
Fired after 17 years of service, a neck brace-wearing Max is later shown moping in a Laundromat with his fellow sidekick friends. The rest of the film shows him trying to apply for a new sidekick job unsuccessfully, getting turned away from a superhero club, passing out on a park bench after drinking his sorrows away, meeting a new love interest and finding a new lease on life as a playground monitor at a local school.
After the screening, Benedict was joined by fellow cast members Lizzy Caplan, Jordan Peele, Josh Meyers, Jason Ritter, Richard Speight Jr. and Martin Starr, and director Michael J. Weithorn (The King of Queens) for a brief Q&A with the audience.
Benedict (Supernatural, Threshold), who also wrote The Sidekick, said the idea for the short came from a moment in his own life.
"I just recently turned 40, and I was thinking I can't really do anything else," he said, adding that that began thinking how it was too late for him to try something other than acting. "What does Robin do at age 40?"
Caplan (Party Down, Marvel One-Shot: Item 47) said she joined the project after receiving an email from Benedict asking if she wanted to be in a short film. Although the two have known each other for 12 years, this is the first time they’ve worked together.
Beyond simply enjoying the script, Ritter (The Event, Parenthood) said it didn’t take much to bring him on board. "It's always fun to put on tights and a cape," he joked.
Meyers (MADtv, That ‘70s Show) said he received a call essentially saying, "You look like a real jerk, and I'd like you to play a sidekick jerk.
The panelists were then asked to which character they’d most like to serve as sidekick.
Caplan at first said she’d like to be a sidekick on the television series Supernatural before adding sarcastically, "It's difficult for me to think about being a sidekick because I always dreamed bigger."
Peele (MADtv, Key and Peele) joked he would want to be Wonder Woman's sidekick because "I like being tied up."
Benedict chose Robin because of all the cool gadgets he would get to use, while Starr (Superbad, Party Down) also selected Wonder Woman.
"Can Wonder Woman have two sidekicks?" Starr asked. “She sure can, brother!” Peele replied as the two shared a fist bump.
In regard to their costumes, Benedict said that while he initially felt odd in his underpants, shooting a scene on Sunset Boulevard made him strangely at ease.
"I have a crush on my steampunk goggles," Peele confessed, “and I get to wear leather, which goes with my S&M thing."
Starr revealed that "it was very freeing to be in such a tight outfit," while Meyer shared a story of showing up on the set wearing sunglasses. He was told, "You can't look like a bigger jerk than in those sunglasses you already bought for yourself."
Caplan then mocked the actors for talking about costumes they wore only briefly. "Oh, I had to wear a thong. Once!" she said, rolling her eyes. "You guys had to [wear tight outfits] for three to five days. Women have to do this every day!"