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Excelsior!

Friday, July 28th 2006

(1 comment)

I've never really liked reality shows much. But I checked out the Sci Fi Channel's Who Wants To Be A Superhero? last night, and I love it. It seems that right now, everyone is blogging about this show. It's got just the right mix of cleverness, humor, and pseudocheezy superhero coolness. The winning contestant will have a comic book created after their character and put out by Dark Horse comics, and best of all, will have a Sci-Fi channel original movie made for them, starring their character. How cool is that?

Granted, we had the obligitory reality show reject segment, where we saw the contestants who wouldn't make it onto the show, but had some comic value. These included Ice Bitch, whose catch phrase was "Freeze, MotherF*cker!", a crazy guy who just mostly screamed the whole time, and some orange blob-looking guy who was just a head poking out of a bouncy-ball thing. Not my favorite segment of the show.

Next, we were introduced to the starting twelve, and as they exited the limo and posed, their image was overlaid with a comicbook-looking image. That was pretty cool.

They were brought to a secret superhero lair in a run-down part of town that looked like a disaster area, and inside the condemned factory/warehouse, we find that the freight elevator leads to an amazing space that resembles a rich person's home more than a superhero lair. One contestant is eliminated even before they enter the lair, for amongst them is a spy, who has spotted some very un-superherolike behavior in their midst.

They communicate with Stan Lee only through a TV display, where he communicates with them from an undisclosed location. He has them chant "Excelsior!" in unison. How delightfully cheezy!

Their first mission, their first test the following day is to change from street clothes into a superhero costume as quickly as possible and without being seen, and race to the finish line. But here's the catch: there's a crying little girl who's lost her mom just before the finish line. The true (hidden) test is not how fast they complete the course, but whether or not they stop to help the girl. About four of the twelve heroes stopped.

So here's my commentary on these superhero contestants, sorted from worst to best.

Fat MommaFat Momma was introduced singing her theme song. "Fat Momma, Fat Momma, I'm here to save the day. Fat Momma, Fat Momma, I'll take your food away"

In real life, Fat Momma is a 42-year-old "Online Sales Specialist". Sounds suspicious. Spam, perhaps? She can grow to five times her normal size when she gets angry, and donuts fuel her powers. Diet foods weaken and shrink her. Despite the fact that she honestly seems like a nice person, and probably did the best job with the little girl, I can't see a Fat Momma movie. It would be horrible. And I think it was Creature who made the point, "I don't know how eating donuts can be a part of feeling good about your body".

LevityWhen I first saw Levity, and he immediately introduced himself as a gay superhero, I thought he might be really cool. His character can supposedly control air to create force fields and shoot blasts of air. He got these powers from being caught in the Mt. St. Helens eruption. WTF?!?

Unfortunately, he turned out to not have much of a personality. And the spy revealed that Levity, a toy-maker in real life, was on the show to make money selling custom action figures. After that revelation, Stan Lee gave Levity the boot. He was kicked out so early that I don't have much more to say about him.

Nitro GNitro G is another superhero who I thought at first might have some real promise, but after seeing him for a bit I realized that he was actually just a snotty kid at heart. In real life, he's a film student and a self-professed comic book nerd. His character's powers involve basically going crazy on adrenaline. Not a bad premise, but that comic book and movie will never be made, because he got kicked off tonight. Not only did he completely blow past the little girl at warp speed, but after he did, he spouted "I may be small, but damn am I fast!" He also changed into his super costume in full sight of everyone.

TyveculusI'm rating Tyveculus as low as I am simply because he's completely unmemorable. His character's powers are super strength and speed, and an inability to hear lies, which gives him a type of lie detection. The guy is a fireman captain in real life, which I suppose is a cool alter-ego, but I really don't think he talked the whole time in last night's episode. While staying in the background might work for Survivor, it doesn't seem like a particularly good strategy for this show. He hasn't done anything memorable, but hasn't done anything wrong yet either, other than missing the little girl.

Cell Phone GirlI'm not a big fan of Cell Phone Girl. She was also fairly nonmemorable, but at least she saved the little girl. Barely. She ran past her, then seemed to realize that the show had planted the girl there, so she turned around with a smirk and slowly walked back. When the girl said "I can't find my mom!", Cell Phone Girl's response was "Where is she?" Pretty lame for a superhero.

She can teleport between cell phones, download information from the internet instantaneously, take digital photos with her eyes, and fire "beams" from her cell phone. She is powerless in areas with no cell phone reception, and must recharge daily. I can only hope that this movie never gets made.

She seems like another example of an interesting character idea with poor execution. I still feel at this point that only three or four of the superheroes had any kind of proper superhero personas, and she was not one.

LemuriaLemuria's only notable trait is her breasts. When she runs, they don't just bounce, they bounce. Lemuria was actually not selected by Stan Lee as a contestant; she was voted onto the show via the internet. That's actually pretty interesting. Lemuria is a quadralingual superhero who gets her powers from the sun, and boy does she seem overpowered. She shoots lasers and orbs of solar energy, levitates, and drains energy from people, animals, and plants.

Lemuria is the last of the less-than-notable superheroes on my list. Everyone I've placed above her is actually interesting.

The Iron EnforcerThe Iron Enforcer is actually more of an antihero than a hero. He's a big barechested guy who drags around a "gun" that actually looks less realistic than most toys that are sold in stores today. He spent what seemed like a half-hour explaining to people how he kills people with it. He seems to take himself way seriously. No schtick here. In real life, his name is Steel Chambers, and he is a bodyguard. Who names their kid Steel?? He also mentioned how after the show, he's "headed to the middle-east for a mission", presumably to engage in some kind of paramilitary mercenary activity.

His superpowers include his arsenal of weapons, and his (get this) "Death Punch". Death Punch?? Apparently, The only living being that can withstand his death punch is The Hulk. Hmm...

When everyone else was in street clothes, he was the only guy who looked abnormal, because he was dragging around that huge "gun". And I also noticed that he very often has this mentally vacant expression on his face, with his mouth hanging open. He came very close to getting kicked off because of his seeming bloodlust. It was great when Stan Lee condescendingly said to him, "Iron Enforcer, superheroes don't kill people. They save people." The Iron Enforcer said it felt like when he was a little kid and got called into the principal's office.

All in all, I could at least see a comic or movie made from his character, which is the main reason I rated him so highly. I'm not saying I'd like to see him win, but as the dark figure, he definately has a place amongst the group.

CreatureCreature is a rave chick with badass blond dreadlocks. I thought it was kind of cool that in real life, she's an auto mechanic. And she drives a vegetable oil-powered car. Her powers are kind of weird, but the main reason I like her is that she's got the look. When she raised her hands, closed her eyes, and smiled in the intro, and they changed it to a still drawing, it looked like a great comic sketch.

Her powers are a bit odd. She can heal others with fruit, (???) shoot fire beams, throw knives, and she wields a magical bullwhip. She claims to be a fairy from another planet. She looked really strange when she galloped past that little girl swinging her bullwhip. Actually, I want to talk about that, because she looked over at the little girl a couple times as she ran past, and Stan Lee later accused Monkey Woman of doing it. I think Stan made a mistake and mixed the two up, and that's why Monkey Woman nearly got kicked off the show.

Creature also lots points at the beginning for flirting so much with the other guys. I did think it was hilarious though when she changed her outfit in a trash can, in full sight of passers-by. She got some odd looks.

Monkey WomanMonkey Woman has a motif similar to Creature's. Both of the two shreik like a chimpanzee. But in real life, I'll bet that Monkey Woman is rich. She's a real estate investor. If her comic/movie ever gets made, it will be more of a childrens' story. She was raised by monkeys, her bananas are weapons in disguise, and Monkey Woman is weakened by the sound of music boxes and calliope organs.

I really do think that the only reason she nearly got kicked off was because she got mistaken for Creature. I think that amongst the woman, she's got the best chance to win this show. I also thought it was really cool that she climbed up a tree to change her costume.

FeedbackI think that Feedback has the best thought-out character and most interesting backstory. Aside from being a "computer genius", he can disrupt electronics, and absorb powers from video games. Okay, I guess that one is a bit tacky. Power lines give him headaches, and microwaves give him nausea. He is also seeking to learn why he is progressively losing his memory. Sounds like an interesting premise for a comic book or movie, I suppose.

I don't know, maybe I'm partial to Feedback because the guy in real life is a programmer. And he quit his job to be on the show. He also has enough acting ability to appear to be taking this all very seriously. He's really donned the superhero mantle pretty well, if not as well as Major Victory. He will go far.

Major VictoryLastly, my favorite. Major Victory. This guy cracks me up. Major victory has super vision and ventriliquism powers, can levitate, can jump 375 feet straight up, (why??) and can go for 25 minutes without air. He is deaf in his left ear, and is lactose intolerant.

Chris Watters is a DJ in real life, and already has an IMDB profile, so I guess he's had some practice at being a character. Apparently, he used to be an exotic dancer, so he's doing this show to try to set a better example for his kids. But I can't help but wonder - have they already decided that he'll be the winner at the end and that he's the right person to make a movie about?

At the same time, I've got to love the way he moves. The little dance he did before he got to the little girl was priceless. This guy channels The Tick.

Wow, that was a long article. I should stop writing now.

Comments on Excelsior!
 
Comment Saturday, July 29th 2006 by Greg
And the scifi.com fans rank them thus...

Major Victory (43%)
Fat Momma (17%)
Feedback (11%)
Lemuria (8%)
Iron Enforcer (6%)
Tyveculus (5%)
Monkey Woman (4%)
Creature / Cell Phone Girl (3% ea)
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