Superhero films are everywhere. In 2018 alone a total 6 movies in the genre are set to be released, that’s one every 2 months. People can’t get enough of them and to be fair, a lot of them are high quality films, so who can blame them? But there was a time when you were lucky to see one released and even luckier if it was actually good. Just at the end of that period in 1999 came an underrated comedy film unappreciated by the masses, that film was Mystery Men.
At its core Mystery Men is much like any superhero team up film, a story about how working together as one can overcome even the largest problems. Though instead of each individual being a competent crime fighter, here we have a group of absolute misfits with obscure skills and powers that don’t really allow them to fit in anywhere.
The film is set in the fictional ‘Champion City’, a place where superheroes are ten a penny (a bit like the box office now). The most famous of these is Captain Amazing, a sort of warped take on Superman who has more sponsorship deals than you can shake a stick at. Unfortunately, he’s been too good at his job and with a lack of capable super villains, his sponsors are losing interest. In a bid to keep the cash rolling in, he decides to free his most deadly adversary Casanova Frankenstein from prison. The plan doesn’t go the way he had hoped and after Casanova’s unexpected victory, the people of Champion City must rely on a far less capable amateur group of “superheroes” named the Mystery Men. The team consists of three men, Mr Furious, The Shoveler and The Blue Raja; they are determined to help keep crime in the city at bay and desperate to be taken seriously while doing so. In order to stop this great evil, they must expand the group and learn to work together as a team.
Mystery Men has a great cast Ben Stiller (Mr Furious), William H. Macy (the Shoveler) and Hank Azaria (The Blue Raja) play the main roles in the film, adding the perfect blend of lovable and pathetic that really nails down the tone of the Mystery Men. Janeane Garofalo is a notable supporting actress, she plays The Bowler, a woman who is out to avenge the murder of her father Carmine the Bowler, a sort of Golden Age superhero. She uses a mystical bowling ball that hosts both her father’s skull and spirit inside to fight her enemies. Garofalo’s dry wit and blasé attitude work perfectly for her character, making her one of the most memorable in the movie. Other members of the team include Paul Ruebens aka ‘Pee-wee Herman’ as The Spleen, a man who can expel foul gas with the pull of a finger, Kel Mitchell of ‘Kenan & Kel’ fame as The Invisible Boy, someone who can turn invisible as long as nobody is looking at him and Wes Studi as The Sphinx, a man with the power of mystery. Studi’s overly serious performance mixed with his overly ridiculous character makes him an absolute scene stealer.