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Film: Mystery Men
"We're not your classic heroes. We're not the favorites. We're the other guys. We're the guys nobody ever bets on."

The (very loose) film adaptation of an offshoot of the Flaming Carrot comics, Mystery Men tells the story of a bunch of loser superheroes, constantly overshadowed by the big-name, big-ego Captain Amazing (Greg Kinnear). While the Trio of Blue Raja (Hank Azaria), Mr. Furious (Ben Stiller) and The Shoveler William H. Macy try desperately to get themselves taken seriously, Captain Amazing laments the lack of decent villains for him to fight.

But after Super Villain Casanova Frankenstein (Geoffrey Rush) gets released from a mental institution — thanks to the machinations of Captain Amazing himself, who is rapidly losing his corporate sponsors due to his crime-free city — it's no time at all before he's gathered the local gang leaders (including Eddie Izzard), built himself a super weapon, the Psycho-Fraculator, and captured Amazing.

The not- exactly- kinda- eponymous characters are left needing to recruit Champion City's other underdog supers, including The Bowler (Janeane Garofalo), The Spleen (Paul Reubens) and Invisible Boy Kel Mitchell, train under the enigmatic tutelage of the Sphinx (Wes Studi), using weapons created by Mad Scientist/Gadgeteer Genius Dr. Heller (Tom Waits) in order to save the day.

Mystery Men is a superhero/vigilante Affectionate Parody, with bizarre, mostly minimal powers, and an odd look at (and much Lampshade Hanging on) various conventions of the Super Hero Genre, and how they would fit into normal life.

Mystery Men provides examples of:

  • Abhorrent Admirer: The Spleen for The Bowler
    Bowler: There isn't enough beer in the world, Spleen. I'm sorry.
  • Action Girl: The Bowler wipes out enemies by throwing a mystic bowling ball possessed by the soul of her father, the original Bowler.
  • Aerosol Flamethrower: Tony P. uses what appears to be a custom one of these in his final confrontation with the Bowler.
  • Ain't Too Proud to Beg: Captain Amazing, who has the best reputation of all heroes, actively bargains to be the villain's assistant upon capture.
  • Alas, Poor Yorick: Carol carries Carmine's skull around with her in a bowling ball.
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: Parodied/inverted- Roy (a.k.a Mr. Furious) would very much like to be a bad boy, and struts around making a fool of himself acting like one in the hope of impressing Monica, the waitress on whom he has a crush. Monica, for her part, is never anything less than dismissive of him... until the point when he finally just starts acting like the sweet Nice Guy he ultimately at heart is, at which point she begins to warm to him.
  • All Myths Are True: The Shoveler's comment that he heard that the Sphinx could, like, cut guns in half with his mind is obviously supposed to be a wild rumor (Blue Raja even expresses disbelief at it). Turns out it's true.
  • Always Wanted To Say That: While the Mystery Men are trying to deactivate the Psycho-frakulator, the Shoveler asks Captain Amazing if he knows billionaire Lance Hunt. Annoyed, Amazing replies that they're the same person, before forcing a smile and saying that he always wanted to do that. Of course, the Shoveler doesn't seem to accept that last part.
  • Ambiguously Gay: The Blue Raja. Not only is his mother discovering his superhero identity played like a coming-out story, when the two Wonder Woman-esque women start catfighting, all of the other men are staring with interest and he just sort of looks vaguely annoyed and confused.
    • Upping the ambiguous ante, he seems to have some chemistry with the Bowler, who explicitly tells her father that he's not a "fruit" (or a commie).
  • Anachronism Stew: The movie is implied to be set in 1999, the year of its release (Lance says "let us set the tone for the new millenium", the Blue Raja mentions the British Raj having ruled India "until the early part of this century"), but still takes place in a futuristic supermetropolis with thousand-floor skyscrapers, ever-present zeppelins, billboards cowritten in English and various Asian languages, strange money (the big bills are red, the coins have square holes in them) and bizarre advanced gadgets. All of this is deliberately invoked to parody the conventions of The Dark Age of Comic Books, the recent Schumacher Batman films and alternate-history superhero fiction like Watchmen.
  • Are You Pondering What I'm Pondering?: Used to subvert a Title Drop, as they try to think up a team name.
    Becky Beaner: Well, whatever you call them, Champion City will forever owe a debt of gratitude to these mystery men.
    The Sphinx: Wait! Wait, that's it! We are... the Super Squad! [awkward silence]
    The Bowler: No, no, alliteration in these situations is corny.
  • Ascended Fanboy: Invisible Boy. At the start, he's part of a network of super wannabes that gravitates around a costume store catering to people like them.
  • Awesome McCool Name:
    • Casanova Frankenstein. In fact, according to the DVD extras, he was chosen because he had a cool-sounding name.
    • Mr. Furious briefly attempts to convince his crush that his name is Phoenix Dark, before admitting that his name is actually Roy. It's part of his super hero 'image' as a Hot-Blooded brawler.
  • Badass Longcoat: Mister Furious wears a black overcoat, drives a black motorcycle and refers to himself as the "lone wolf".
  • Badass Normal: The original trio.
    The Shoveller: God gave me a gift. I shovel well. I shovel very well.
    Shoveller's Wife: You shovel better than any man I've ever known!
  • Bait and Switch: During the superhero auditions, up walks a dark-costumed muscular man In the Hood and mask with a serious, brooding expression, getting the character's hopes up... he then introduces himself as "Ballerina Man" complete with pink tutu underneath the flowing cloak.
  • Bedlam House: The asylum that Casanova Frankenstein is locked up in.
  • Becoming the Boast: Mr. Furious supposedly has the superpower of rage-induced super-strength, but, when called on it near the end of the film, he reveals it's all an act. However, when rescuing the Love Interest from the clutches of the Big Bad, he becomes genuinely furious, genuinely gains rage-induced super-strength, and starts kicking ass.
  • Berserk Button: Most of the characters but especially Mr. Furious, who acts like everything will set him off in a blind rage.
    Tony P: Disco is NOT dead! Disco is LIFE!!
  • The Berserker: Subverted with Mr. Furious until the ending.
  • Big Bad: Casanova Frankenstein. Who leads the minor villains and executes an Evil Plan.
  • Big Electric Switch: Several, and one must be careful about how many times one flips each one because otherwise you could kill someone.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Captain Amazing acts like The Cape for the press but he's truly a selfish jerkass. Only his publist sees this side of him.
  • The Blade Always Lands Pointy End In/Stepping-Stone Sword: Initially, Blue Raja's forks bounce off everything, until the Sphinx teaches him to concentrate on the throwing itself rather than stylizing the throws, and then they always land tines in and can be climbed on.
  • Black Comedy: "I don't think he's gonna pull through."
  • Blame Game: The Blame-Thrower.
  • Bland-Name Product: Called out as such in universe, as Captain Amazing berates his publicist for losing his Pepsi endorsement, which was replaced with a similar-looking Japanese knockoff.
  • Boring, but Practical: Demonstrated with the weapon choices of Tony P's disco gang.
    Mr. Furious: What? Guns? That's your power, you shoot guns?
    The Blue Raja: There's no theme at all here.
    Mr. Furious: Weak.
    The Blue Raja: At best.
    [a Disco Boy wields a pipe]
    The Shoveller: And who are you supposed to be, the Disco Plumber?
    [another Disco Boy wields a heavy chain]
    Mr. Furious: See, you've got a chain, you could at least make it a gold chain. And that's just off the top of my head.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: The Bowler is arguably the most powerful member of the team, and would likely be far more efficient if she didn't come off as so... Spacy sometimes. (Her father does talk to her, but the others find it very hard to realize that at first, and she presents an attidude that seems sort of crazy.)
  • The Cameo: When Casanova Frankenstein gathers the various gangs of Champion City together in an attempt to unite them, the leader of "The Frat Boys" is played by Michael Bay.
    • "The Waffler" from the superhero tryout scene is played by a pre-fame Dane Cook.
    • Pencil Head is played by Doug Jones.
    • The gang "The Not-So-Goodie Mob" is played by the Goodie Mob.
    • Dana Gould as Squeegee-Man.
  • Captain Ersatz: Captain Amazing has obvious Batman/Bruce Wayne elements with references to Superman; He's a billionaire lawyer who is secretly a vigilante crimefighter who uses glasses as a mainstay of his disguise. Booster Gold is another influence with his obsession with money and treating being a hero like being a famous athlete rather than a calling.
  • Captain Ethnic: White Flight and the Black Menace. ("They work together.")
  • Card-Carrying Villain: All the bad guys. Frankenstein lists off all their nasty deeds at his party and they cheer each time.
  • Cardboard Prison: Notably averted, since what kickstarts the plot is the lack of supervillains for Captain Amazing to fight.
  • Chain Pain: One of the disco gang has a chain for a weapon. Mr. Furious hangs a lampshade on this when he asks why it isn't at least a gold chain.
  • Chekhov's Gun / Deleted Scene: Dr. Heller's Tornado-in-a-Can was intended to be a Chekhov's Gun but ended up on the cutting room floor. Rather than throw The Bowler's bowling ball into Casanova Frankenstein's machine to destroy it, the alternate scene shows them throwing a Tornado-in-a-Can into it instead. The effect for this can still however be seen in the theatrical release; just after they toss the bowling ball in and it does its damage you can see the green swirling smoke coming out of the hole.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Just about everything The Sphinx teaches the heroes (that stayed through training) is useful at the end, including the group hug. The one exception is the watermelons on the feet but Sphinx doesn't remember telling Roy to do that.
  • City of Adventure: Champion City has a bunch of villains of varying threat and heroes that fight them.
  • City of Weirdos: The "superheroes" are ubiquitous and by-and-large not taken seriously by the public, but a geeky subculture of superhero wannabes exist.
  • Civvie Spandex: Most of the group wears their "costumes" all the time (The Shoveler even using his uniform from his job as a miner), especially Invisible Boy, who until the end doesn't even come close to having a costume.
  • The City: Champion City.
  • City Noir: Parodied. Roy thinks he's in one of these but the others think he's lame.
  • Clark Kenting: Lampshaded with Lance Hunt as Captain Amazing.
    The Shoveler: Oh, don't start that again! Lance Hunt wears glasses. Captain Amazing doesn't wear glasses.
    Mr. Furious: He takes them off when he transforms.
    The Shoveller: That doesn't make any sense. He wouldn't be able to see!
  • Color Character: The Blue Raja, who doesn't wear blue at all (though it makes perfect sense to him, given his supposed ancestry and nation's history). His friends enjoy pointing out the ridiculousness of this. However, in the end, he finally adds a blue shawl to his costume.
  • Comeback Tomorrow: When Mr. Furious attempts to persuade the Shoveler and the Blue Raja to follow Casanova Frankenstein with him:
    Mr. Furious: Well, here I thought I was with a couple of real superheroes, the Shoveller and the Blue Raja! But really, it's Lazy Boy and...
    The Shoveler: Good night.
    Mr. Furious: And... the recliner! Yeah, Lazy Boy and the Recliner!
  • The Comically Serious: The Shoveller, with a pitch-perfect straight-faced delivery from William H. Macy.
  • Companion Cube: Carmine's skull-in-a-ball. He argues with his daughter constantly but no one else can hear him.
  • Cool Car:
    • The Herkimer Battle Jitney. The "finest non-lethal military vehicle ever made!"
    • Casanova's limo.
  • Cool Mask: Played straight with the Sphinx (who is "terribly mysterious") but oddly averted for the rest of The Team (Invisible Boy finally includes a pair of goggles when he makes his costume for the final act).
  • The Coroner Doth Protest Too Much: Carmine The Bowler's death was officially ruled as an accident.
    Mr. Furious: Seems there was a little controversy there regarding your father's death.
    The Bowler: Yes, the police said he fell down an elevator shaft. Onto some bullets.
    The Blue Raja: You know, I've always suspected a bit of foul play.
    • Tony P refers to himself as "the guy who gave your Daddy the shaft" suggesting that the coroner's report was incorrect and that Carmine's death was murder.
  • Corporate-Sponsored Superhero: Captain Amazing may well be the Trope Maker, given the sponsorship decals and emblems on his uniform. He also provides the page image.
    Gum Disease and Gingevitis can be a crime, that's why I use Mighty Whity; I want my teeth to look amazing.
  • Crippling Overspecialization: The Blue Raja only works with non-bladed cutlery.
    I'm the ''Blue Raja! I'm not... Stab-man, I'm not Knifey Boy, I'm the Blue Raja.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: Captain Amazing's death is both gross and horrifying; pyscho-defraculation.
  • Curbstomp Battle:
    • When the Disco gang beats up the trio, they literally throw them on the ground and stomp them.
    • The final fight between Casanova Frankenstein and Mr. Furious starts out with Casanova beating the crap out of him. Once he makes the mistake of triggering Furious' Unstoppable Rage, the tide turns in Furious' favor.
  • Cursed with Awesome: A mixed blessing with Spleen, who cut the cheese and blamed it on an old gypsy woman who was walking by. She cursed him with farts of amazing potency and accuracy.
  • Dark Age of Supernames: Parodied when Roy tries to pretend his name is Phoenix Dark (ne้ Dirk Steel), only to give in and say his real name.
  • Dark Mistress: Dr. Anabel Leek, Cassanova's psychiatrist and then lover.
  • Death by Cameo: Michael Bay portrays the leader of the Frat Boys. Casanova kills them later to show how evil he can be.
  • Deconstructive Parody: This film shows what happens to normal people who want to be super heroes, and makes fun of them every step of the way.
  • Decon-Recon Switch: Despite real life difficulites, the cast still becomes succesful crimefighters in their own fight.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: "I guess tonight, the lone wolf... hunts... alone."
  • Diesel Punk: Among other things, there's the Herkimer Battle Jitney.
  • Disco Dan: The Disco boys are an entire Gang of Hats of them but "there's no theme at all" with their weapons.
  • Disney Villain Death: Casanova is sent plummeting into his doomsday device by Mr. Furious. Though the machine itself kills him instead of the fall.
  • Doesn't Like Guns:
    • One scene where the supers mock gun-wielding Mooks for being uncreative in theming their weapons to match with their Gang of Hats.
    • The Blue Raja refuses to use guns or knives.
    The Blue Raja: I won't use guns. I've been crystal clear about that.
    The Shoveler: Won't even use a knife...
    • Dr. Heller only makes non—lethal weapons.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: The Blue Raja's coming out as a superhero to his mother is phrased as if it was a coming out of a different sort. His mother even remarks that she was saving her mother's cutlery for his wedding, but that that day looks to be far off
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?: Mr. Furious throughout the film. Everyone from his boss, to the police, to his own teammates disrespect him.
  • Eleventh Hour Superpower: It turns out that Mr. Furious really does have rage-induced powers, he's just doesn't have the hair-trigger he claims to have.
  • Emergency Weapon: The Shoveler, sans shovel, deflects an attack with a trowel.
  • Empathic Weapon: Carmine, though The Bowler argues with him more often than not.
  • Enlightenment Superpowers: The Sphinx can cut guns in half with his mind because he's a "terribly mysterious" mystic.
  • Everything's Funkier With Disco: Casanova Frankenstein's mansion and main gang all revolve around disco.
  • Evil Is Not a Toy: Captain Amazing only wants a better villain to fight, but Casanova Frankenstein quickly gets the upper hand.
  • Evil Plan: Casanova Frankenstein plans to use the Psycho-De-Fraculator on the city, which will fry their brains. No one knows why he wants to do this, but then again, he did spend the last thirty years in a nut house.
  • Exotic Weapon Supremacy: Everyone uses these, except for the Disco Boys, who use boring old guns. For added flavor there's a weapon designer (Tom Waits!) who specializes in these.
  • Expy: Captain Amazing, despite similarities to Superman, is far closer to Booster Gold, both in appearance and his relentless quest for money and exposure.
    • Also, the initial three members are based on the three classic members of the Justice Society of America: The Shoveler is Jay Garrick, original The Flash (the helmet, and the squeaky-clean personality), Blue Rajah is Alan Scott, the original Green Lantern (the flamboyant attire and not being dressed in the color he's name after), and Mister Furious is Ted Grant, aka Wildcat (the temper, the (albeit faux) gruff attitude).
  • Failure Heroes: The Team is this until their final confrontation with the Big Bad. The police mock them after a C-string villain team beat the crap out of them.
  • False Reassurance: When the Blue Raja asks the Bowler if she really put her father's skull in her bowling ball, she assures him she didn't. "The guy at the Pro Shop did it."
  • Fartillery: "The Spleen," forevermore he who dealt it.
  • Fork Fencing: The Blue Raja wields forks (not knives!)
  • Freudian Trio: The 'Big Three'.
    • Shoveller as Ego; level-headed balancer
    • Blue Raja as Superego; obsessed with history and social conventions.
    • Mr. Furious as Id; "I am a ticking timebomb of fury"
  • Fur and Loathing: The gang called "The Furriers", a bunch of femme fatales wearing leather and fur.
  • Gadgeteer Genius: Heller. He makes cutting edge nonlethal weapons in his trailer.
    The Shoveler: Doctor, you really are a genius.
    Dr. Heller: That's what the card says.
  • Gang of Hats: The Disco Boys are most obvious, but all the gangs in Champion City appear to have some quirk.
  • Gasshole: The Spleen (see Fartillery above).
  • Genre Savvy: Downplayed with Casanova Frankenstein. He is Genre Savvy when it comes to dealing with his Arch-Enemy, Captain Amazing, but not when dealing with the Mystery Men.
  • Glory Days: Captain Amazing hasn't had a decent battle in years.
  • Happily Married: The Shoveler and his wife, Lucille, may feud over his heroing, but they worry because they love each other. She outright tells them that he's "a good husband" but not a superhero.
  • Heart Is an Awesome Power: "Farting" sounds like a lame power but Spleen can selectively knock out everyone in a diner.
  • Heroic BSOD: After his romantic interest tries to convince him to be himself rather than conform to his 'angry' theme, Mr. Furious takes this to mean that he has no powers. He eventually snaps out of it when he gets angry for real.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: It seemed that Carmine was going to do this at the climax of the movie. Subverted in that A.) He was already dead (a fact that was lampshaded) and B.) It turns out at the end that he 'survived', somewhat to the annoyance of the hero wielding him.
  • Huddle Shot: "Group hug!"
  • I Call It Vera: Justified in the case of The Bowler, who calls her bowling ball Carmine - because it's possessed by the spirit of her father Carmine (and contains his skull). It talks back, although only she can hear it.
  • Ice-Cream Koan: Most of The Sphinx's teachings.
    Sphinx: To learn my teachings, I must first teach you how to learn.
    • The pinnacle:
    Furious: (trying to balance a hammer on his head) What's the point of this?
    Sphinx: When you can balance a tack hammer on your head, you will head off your foes with a balanced attack.
    • And then some:
    Sphinx: Your temper is very quick, my friend. But until you learn to master your rage —
    Furious: Your rage will become your master? (beat) That's what you were gonna say, right?
    Sphinx: ... Not necessarily.
  • If You Kill Him, You Will Be Just Like Him: The Bowler cites this as the reason she won't kill Tony P. Her father, however, has no such reservations.
  • I Know You Know I Know: Supplies the page quote.
    Capt. Amazing: I knew you couldn't change.
    Casanova Frankenstein: I knew you'd know that.
    Capt. Amazing: Oh, I know that. And I knew you'd know I'd know you knew.
    Casanova Frankenstein: But I didn't. I only knew that you'd know that I knew. Did you know that?
    Capt. Amazing: . . . of course.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: The Blue Raja is shown to have impeccable aiming skills that border on the superhuman.
  • Improbable Weapon User:
    • The Shoveler, The Bowler, and a fork-flinger, and that's just from the heroes.
    • Cassanova Frankenstein attacks with his one long pinkie nail, and the cast react just as if it were a full set of claws.
  • Incredibly Lame Pun: The Blue Raja drops a couple of fork- and spoon-related puns during the course of the movie. He even practices some in front of a mirror.
  • Insulted Awake: Parodied. The team try this on Mr. Furious when he no longer feels furious, but their insults are so lame and he's become so mild-mannered due to falling in love that they can't even achieve a Minor Insult Meltdown:
    The Bowler: You're not well-liked. You're uh, you're abrasive and off-putting. You try and say pithy things, but your wit is a hindrance and therefore nothing is provocative. Just mixed metaphors. Now, doesn't that make you angry? Does it infuriate you?
    Mr. Furious: No.
    The Bowler: Well, it should. Aren't you angry? Come on, man!
    The Sphinx: You dress in the manner of a male prostitute!
  • Intrepid Reporter: Becky Beaner would probably be Captain Amazing's love interest in a happier world.
  • Invisible Streaker: When Invisible Boy turns invisible, he has to remove his (visible) clothes to avoid being detected by motion sensors.
  • Irony: Invisible Boy can actually become transparent,...but only when nobody, including himself, is looking directly at him. So he's already technically "invisible" even if he doesn't become transparent.
  • It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time: Captain Amazing released Casanova Frankenstein from the asylum so he can have a high-profile supervillain to fight again. It backfires badly.
  • It's What I Do
    The Shoveler: Doctor, you are a genius.
    Dr. Heller: That's what the card says.
    • Captain Amazing says this word for word when asked how he knew about the Red-Eyes' attack on the nursing home.
  • Jive Turkey: Dropped by, of course, the disco gang.
  • Karmic Death: This film loves 'em:
    • Casanova is ultimately killed when he is thrown into his own doomsday device.
    • Tony P. is killed by the "ghost" of Carmine The Bowler - whom he murdered.
    • Captain Amazing is killed as a direct result of freeing Casanova.
  • King Incognito: In a deleted scene, the original trio goes looking for the Sphinx at a Mexican restaurant but eventually gives up. One of the waiters later turns out to be the Sphinx (though whether the heroes discover this is not shown).
  • Legacy Character: The Bowler; her father was a fairly well known crime-fighter before her. Bad guys derisively call her "Baby Bowler" because of this.
  • Let's Get Dangerous: Effectively summarizes the premise of this movie and is given a lampshade in the final battle sequence:
    Mr. Furious: Rage... taking... over...
    Casanova Frankenstein: [Dismissive] Ya ya ya... we've heard it all before.
    Mr. Furious: No no no... Rage... really taking over...
  • Likes Older Women: Heller frequents the retirement home to pick up chicks.
  • Magical Native American: The Sphinx is a complicated example. He's played by a Native actor, but his powers, code name, and costume are not Native themed, he works at a Mexican restaurant and can be summoned by ordering the right combo meal, and his "wise" advice is basically nonsense.
  • Malaproper: Mr. Furious. He doesn't appreciate being called on it.
  • Malevolent Masked Men: The Red-Eyes, even including a Gas Mask Mook.
  • Menstrual Menace: The PMS Avenger only works 4 days a month.
  • Metaphorgotten:
    • Constantly by Mr. Furious.
    Mr. Furious: I don't need a compass to tell me which way the wind shines.
    • Lampshaded by the Bowler when she's trying to rile him up:
      The Bowler: You constantly try to say pithy things, but your wit is a hindrance, so nothing is provocative! It's all mixed metaphors!
  • Mentor: The Sphinx teaches the others how to become proper super heroes.
  • Misfit Mobilization Moment: The charge on Casanova Frankenstein's mansion is when the Mystery Men transition from goofballs to heroes.
  • Mr. Fixit: Heller. He restores the Herkimer Battle Jitney, for starters.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: Look at the Rousing Speech example below.
  • My Name Is Inigo Montoya: The Bowler's confrontation of Tony P. Complete with You Killed My Father.
  • Naked People Are Funny: Invisible Boy.
  • Negate Your Own Sacrifice: The Bowler throwing her ball (containing the spirit of Carmine the Bowler) into the Psycho-Frakulator.
    The Bowler: Now, the good news is you're not going to die, because you're already dead.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: In one HBO trailer, as the narrator starts with saying something evil is brewing, we get to see a creepy closeup of a man screaming or laughing in the midst of some vortex. It must be important! Nah, it's just the Spleen caught in the demonstration of Heller's tornado in a can, which has never been used after that.
  • Nice Character, Mean Actor: Captain Amazing. Which is to say that the "real" Captain Amazing is a jerk, despite his heroic reputation.
  • Nice Hat: The Shoveler wears a hard hat with a spotlight.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero:
    • Captain Amazing in his civilian persona, decides to free Casanova so he could have a real villain to fight, and to boost his ratings. Bad idea.
    • When half the team kill Captain Amazing during a rescue attempt but Amazing gets the blame for giving such poor instructions.
    The Blue Raja: Oh! My God. Oh, my God. We killed him.
    The Shoveler: What do you mean we? I was standing right here.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: Casanova threatening Furious' girlfriend ultimately snaps him out of his Heroic BSOD and allows him to finally awaken his Unstoppable Rage for real.
  • Nineties Anti-Hero: Parodied — Roy wants to be one of these so very, very much but the result is lame.
  • No, Except Yes: When the Blue Raja asks if the Bowler really put her father's skull in her ball, she assures him she didn't — the guy at the pro shop did.
  • Non-Indicative Name:
  • The Nudifier: One of Heller's weapons causes fabric to shrink. When used on a gang of scantily-clad women, it incapacitates them... and makes Mr Furious feel like his trousers are a little tight, too.
  • The Obi-Wan: The Sphinx parodies this.
  • Only Sane Man: Mr. Furious is the only one who realizes that Lance Hunt is Captain Amazing. He's also the only one who sees that the Sphinx just makes up his "mysterious" sayings by rearranging the words.
  • Our Founder: A gigantic neon-lit statue of Captain Amazing.
  • Parodied Trope: So many superhero tropes are spoofed here.
  • Performance Anxiety: Invisible Boy can only turn invisible when no one is looking at him.
  • Perplexing Plurals: Captain Amazing comments to Casanova Frankenstein that they have always been each other's greatest "nemisises..nemisi..." (It's "nemeses".)
  • Plot Tailored to the Party: The assault on Chez Casa Casanova. From Invisibility to magic bowling balls to fork throwing etc, everyone's powers are used to solve some problem or obstacle.
  • Politically Incorrect Hero: Carmine is apparently this:
    The Bowler: So you're a British man who converted to Islam, sort of like Cat Stevens?
    Blue Raja: No. Until the early part of this century, India was in fact part of the British Empire, whose government there was called the British Raj after the Hindi word for "sovereignty". Furthermore —
    The Bowler: Wait — so sorry. [to her bowling ball] What? Dad! No, he's not a commie, nor a fruit. [to the Blue Raja] Sorry. His ignorance embarrasses me.
  • Poor Communication Kills: Literally, when Captain Amazing gives confusing instructions on how to deactivate the deathtrap he's in, causing the group to slowly devolve into Seinfeldian Conversation and eventually activate it by accident.
  • Power Walk: Played straight, then parodied as Mr. Furious doesn't feel powerful enough to continue, and turns around. The two nearest just hook him under the arms and keep walking, dragging him along without even turning their heads.
  • Pre-Asskicking One-Liner: Parodied constantly.
    • The Blue Raja rehearses them in his room.
    • Mr. Furious is constantly trying to come up with these, but as the Bowler accurately points out "your wit is a hindrance, so nothing is provocative — it's all mixed metaphors." He does, however, come up with a pretty good one when he finally gets dangerous:
    Mr. Furious: Someone must have ripped the "Q" section out of my dictionary, 'cause I don't know the meaning of the word "quit"!
  • Precision-Guided Boomerang: The Bowler's Bowling Ball will always return to her hand when thrown. Justified due to being possessed by the soul of her dead father.
  • Product Placement: Captain Amazing's costume is plastered in corporate logos.
  • Rag Tag Bunch Of Misfits: One of the definitive film examples and intentionally so.
    • A guy who thinks he's the The Hulk.
    • A married man with a shovel.
    • A Momma's Boy who throws forks.
    • A shy boy with pointless invisibility powers.
    • A Legacy Character looking for revenge.
    • Finally, a man who farts.
    • Their Sixth Ranger is a guy whose superpower is that he's "mysterious" and can cut guns in half with his mind.
    The Shoveler: "Amazing is gone. There's no use waiting for The Cavalry, because as of this moment, the cavalry is us. This is our fight, whether we like it or not. Just we few."
  • Reality Warping: The Psycho-Frankulator seems to be a weaponized form of this. It warps its target until they die.
  • Retro Universe: There are traces of this here and there, especially with the reporters' fashion.
  • Rousing Speech: Perhaps the best example concerning a sandwich.
    The Shoveler: This is egg salad. It's loaded with cholesterol. The wife won't even let me touch it. Hardly seems to matter now, 'cause chances are, we're already dead. Amazing is gone. There's no use waiting for the cavalry, because as of this moment, the cavalry is us. This is our fight, whether we like it or not. Just we few. We're not your classic superheroes. We're not the favorites. We're the other guys. We're the guys nobody ever bets on. But I'll tell you what I think. ... We're all in over our heads, and we know it. But if we take on this fight, those of us who survive it will forever after show our scars with pride, and say, 'That's right! I was there! I fought the good fight!' So whatdaya say? Do we all gather together, and go kick some Casanova butt? Or do I eat this sandwich?
  • Rummage Sale Rejects: Not just the Mystery Men; all the wannabes dress wear mismatched or dirty equipment.
  • Running Gag:
    • "Why don't you tell me?" "Why don't you tell me?"
    • The heroes failing to agree on a name for their gang, leading to a subverted Title Drop at the end.
  • Sassy Black Woman: Lucille, The Shoveler's wife, sasses and nags him about his superheroing.
  • Scenery Porn: If you liked Blade Runner's futuristic Los Angeles, you'll love this.
  • Secret Identity: Played straight with Captain Amazing and the Sphinx, but played with concerning the rest of the Mystery Men - they don't wear masks, but are still fairly secretive about their real names. The Shoveler (Eddie), the Blue Raja (Jeffrey) and Mr. Furious (Roy) use first names fairly freely when not in battle, the Bowler's (Carol) is said only once, and we don't hear their full names or learn Invisible Boy, Spleen or the Sphinx's real names at all.
  • Shoe Phone: Played with in the scene where Captain Amazing initially confronts Casanova Frankenstein and tells him to deactivate a variety of weapons hidden in normally benign objects, only to be snared by a portable enticement snare that looks like a remote detonator.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The scene where Casanova Frankenstein gathers the various gimmicked gangs of Champion City together at his mansion in an effort to unite them all under his rule, culminating with the rousing cry, "Can you dig it?" is a shout out to The Warriors.
    • Roy does a Six Million Dollar Man slow-motion jump, complete with the iconic sound-effect.
    • Roy also at one point counterquips Casanova with "Don't correct me. It sickens me."
    • The Shoveler's Rousing Speech is reminiscent of the 'band of brothers' speech. "We will show our scars with pride" indeed.
  • Shovel Strike: The Shoveler shovels very well. He also has a trowel.
  • Shrouded in Myth: This is literally the Sphinx's main power. (Mind you, his other power is chopping guns in half with his mind.)
  • Storming the Castle: The attack on Casanova's mansion.
  • Skyward Scream: Mr. Furious does this when he's trying (and failing (and then succeeding)) to invoke Unstoppable Rage.
  • Spandex, Latex, or Leather: One of the most eclectic mixtures in any medium, involving a bit of just about everything - Captain Amazing's costume is molded rubber and chrome armour covered in sponsored ads, while supervillain Casanova Frankenstein displays a taste for multiple velvet outfits and strange gold jewlerly. The Mystery Men themselves all sport low-budget, piecemeal "costumes": The Shoveler wears mining equipment, a catcher's chest pad and jeans, the Blue Raja a thrift-store quality Indian ensemble, Mr. Furious a black leather motorcycle outfit with a black leather Badass Longcoat over it, etc. After meeting the Sphinx (who wears a vinyl cowl and billowing black velvet robes, later revealed to have dazzling blue and silver spandex hidden beneath), they sew proper costumes, which incorporate spandex (Spleen and Sphinx), leather (Furious and the Bowler), silver mail (Shoveler), ornately colourful jewel-covered fabrics (the Blue Raja) and what appears to be an elaborately painted mural of Champion City (the Invisible Boy).
  • Stealth Pun: The Spleen's name makes no sense until you remember the phrase "venting one's spleen."
  • Super Hero: Parodies the genre. The only ones with genuine superpowers are Spleen, Sphinx, and Invisible Boy. Bowler might count as long as she has her dad's ball.
  • Supervillain Packing Heat: The Disco Boys, to our heroes' great amusement.
  • Superheroes Wear Tights: Mostly averted, as it primarily homages Darker and Edgier comic styles that were more about leather and combat gear, but played straight by the Sphinx and the Spleen in the final act (the Sphinx's boots imply that he was always wearing the tights under his robes of mystery).
  • Super Strength: Mr. Furious, but only when his Unstoppable Rage truly kicks in. It's stated he once pushed a bus all on his own (despite him making excuses due to presently suffering a Heroic BSOD at the time). Proven when triggered at the end, which allows him to manhandle Casanova.
  • Super Zeroes: Of the "zero to hero" kind.
  • The Team
    • The Big Guy: The Mystery Men have a number of heavy hitters.
      • Spleen's gas attack is "silent but deadly".
      • Dr.Heller has an arsenal of non-lethal weaponry
      • Bowler's bowling ball is like a guided missle and returns when she throws it.
      • When he's truly angry, Mr. Furious is a formitable fighter.
    • The Face: Invisible Boy's biggest contribution to the team is his networking ability. "I know lots of super heroes."
    • The Leader: The Shoveler gives the Rousing Speech. Interestingly, when he says "Leadership, it's what we've been missing." He was looking at Mr.Furious as if disapointed that he didn't live up to this role.
    • The Smart Guy:
      • The Blue Raja with his vast array of specialized forks and a well-researched back story.
      • Dr. Heller is the Gadgeteer Genius who made their gear and transport.
    • Mentor Archetype: The Sphinx trained them all.
  • That Poor Cat: Happens while The Blue Raja is using a dartboard for target practice.
  • Technical Pacifist: Doctor Heller, who designs nonlethal weapons, such as the "Shrinker" (which causes the target's clothing to contract painfully tight) and the "Blame-thrower" (which starts arguments).
  • This Looks Like a Job for Aquaman: Played with for Invisible Boy. He can only turn invisible when no one is looking at him, which seems useless until they encounter an automated defense system. Which is not exactly uncommon.
  • Title Drop: See Are You Pondering What I'm Pondering??, above.
  • Toilet Humor: A skunk humping the leg of a fart-powered superhero, just to name one example.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Everyone, after meeting The Sphinx. This was the point of finding him.
  • Tornado Move: Dr. Heller has invented a "Tornado in a Can". He uses one to get the heroes' attention when they have decided he was a crackpot and go to leave.
  • Trick Bomb: A tornado in a can.
  • TV Never Lies: Parodied during a conversation between Mr. Furious and Monica the waitress:
    Mr. Furious: I'll have a steak, please, very rare. That means pink, not bloody. And can I get some ice? I had a little mishap defending justice over at the nursing home.
    Monica: I thought I heard on TV that that was Captain Amazing.
    Monica: I'll just go place your order now...
  • Unstoppable Rage: This is supposed to be Mr. Furious' power but he's defeated by stress balls.
    Mr. Furious: That little sucker just saved your life.
  • Victory Is Boring: After putting away every supervillain in the city, Captain Amazing is left with only incompetent gangs of thugs, which prompts him to get Casanova Frankenstein released.
  • Wax On, Wax Off: Parodied when the Sphinx trains the eponymous squad with a series of bizarre physical feats justified by odd wordplay, as seen in this exchange:
    Mr. Furious: Why am I balancing a hammer on my head?
    The Sphinx: When you can balance a tack hammer on your head, you can head off your foes with a balanced attack!
    Mr. Furious: And why do I have these watermelons on my feet?
    The Sphinx: [beat] I don't remember asking you to do that.
  • Weaponized Ball: The Bowler uses a bowling ball possessed by the spirit of her father (the original Bowler) as a weapon.
  • What a Piece of Junk: The Herkimer Battle Jitney. Roy finds it in a junkyard and Heller tells him how great it is.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Dr. Annabelle Leek joins Casanova as his evil concubine, then vanishes without a trace halfway through the movie.
  • What Kind of Lame Power Is Heart, Anyway?: Everybody on the team, which is central to the premise but special mention goes to Invisible Boy who can only turn invisible when nobody is looking; this is only useful when trying to avoid electronic detection in a room where everybody is on his side and agrees not to look at him.
  • Wicked Cultured: Casanova Frankenstein, although bizarrely and brilliantly mixed with Everything's Funkier With Disco.
  • "World of Cardboard" Speech: Furious has a very short one that doubles as Pre Ass Kicking One Liner when His Unstoppable Rage is finally unleashed, allowing him to beat the stuffing out of Casanova Frankenstein.
  • You Can See Me?: Unfortunately, Invisible Boy, yes we can. EVERYTHING, too.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: In the climax, the Big Bad kills a group of Mooks expressly to demonstrate to the heroes that, unlike them, he can sacrifice his allies if he has to, or, y'know, if he feels like it.
  • You Killed My Father: The Bowler. Downplayed by the fact it's her dead father who ultimately avenges himself.

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alternative title(s): Mystery Men
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