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Series: Hero Corp
is a French comedic TV series, created and written by Simon Astier and Alban Lenoir and broadcasted on cable channel Comédie+ in 2008. It was produced by CALT, the same company as Kaamelott
, and shares several of its actors as well as a similar humor. The series started out as with Dramatic Half-Hour
episodes with an overreaching story rather than short gag episodes, however. With its season 3, it changes to a Shortcom format of 7-minute episodes (incidentally the inverse of Kaamelott
's evolution).Hero Corp
parodies the Super Hero
genre, with many of the characters being former heroes whose powers have fallen behind
(if they were any good to begin with
). Following a war in the '80s, the Hero Corp agency was created to maintain world peace. It has several secret sites over the planet, and specifically a rural village in the French departement of Lozère where aging heroes live a quiet, peaceful retirement. But a super-villain that everybody believed was dead, "The Lord", is threathening this village.
Following a vision by "The Voice", the main protagonist John is designated as The Chosen One
, despite not having any clue about the superheroes world. He is called to the village by his aunt, whom he hadn't seen in 10 years. There, he his swept over by the strange happenings in the village, begins a romance with a "civilian" girl, and starts discovering his own powers. Most of season 1 build up to a big battle against The Lord, John leading the reluctant and bickering villagers to renew with their heroic past.
Hero Corp provides examples of the following tropes:
- Accidental Truth: In order to save John from being executed, Klaus and Doug pretend he has a power, and use Klaus' telekinesis to convince everybody he is Nigh Invulnerable. The masquerade succeeds, but Mique, who knows it was fake, sets a trap for him with the intend to kill and unmask him. Thanks to the nature of his actual power, John does become invulnerable and survives the trap.
- Affectionate Parody: Of Heroes and the superhero genre in general.
- All Asians Know Martial Arts: Jean-Micheng is the only one with some good hand-to-hand fighting skills.
- Amulet of Concentrated Awesome: The Lord's amulet. He needs it to control his superpower. Although he's not as helpless without it as the heroes were lead to think.
- Anti-Villain: The Lord regularly comments that he does not actually like being a supervillain.
- Bad Bad Acting: Burt, Stan and Steve attempt to pass themselves as zombies overpowering Captain Extreme Sports in order to convince another zombie to lead them to its leader. They all "act" like this. It works, but only because they are led into a trap. The zombies' leader even call them on their acting skills.
- Bat Signal: Spoofed when the local police attempts to find a way to contact the superheroes by projecting Batman's insignia with a torchlight. After other unsuccessful attempts, they settle on using the phone.
- Battle Cry: Klaus' "PINAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGE !!!!!!!!!"
- Big Bad:
- The Lord in season 1.
- Matthew Hoodwink in season 2.
- Probably Hypnos in season 3.
- Bigger Bad: The end of season 1 reveals that The Lord never was the main threat, and worked for Matthew Hoodwink.
- The Big Guy: Klaus, a.k.a. Force Mustang.
- Bullying a Dragon: In season 3, the bad guy who's chasing Stève, Stan and Burt for having escaped his fighting ring. Sure, they're the most inept superheroes around, but still, he's trying to get the drop on a guy who can shoot acid, and another who can shoot fire, with just a gun. He gets burned.
- Captain Patriotic: Captain Canada (played by Michel Courtemanche)
- Captain Superhero: A lot of the superhero names, including some quite ridiculous like Captain Extreme Sports or Captain Shampoo.
- Cerebus Syndrome: Season 2 is noticeably more serious than 1. (Remember, this is from the family who brought us Kaamelott, whose name is used for the trope in the French version.) It gets worse in season 3.
- Charles Atlas Superpower: Klaus explains his Super Strength from training very hard to become the strongest superhero. Because for some reason, he thinks of his real power — telekinesis — as "lame".
- The Chosen One: John by all accounts, not that he's too happy about it.
- Season 1 sees the village about to be bombarded while John and Jennifer's car is destroyed by a rocket.
- Season 2 has John turning into something, Jennifer knocked inconscious and thrown overboard, and the Lord (who had gone a Heel-Face Turn of sorts) incapacited, possibly dead. Since the series was deprogrammed after season 2 and took some time to find another channel, the last cliffhanger came hard.
- Season 3 makes a point of finishing each 7-minutes episode with a cliffhanger or reveal of sorts. It then ends with both groups of bad guys apparently winning simultaneously.
- Many of the superheroes would qualify one way or another.
- Jennifer, John's girlfriend, isn't entirely all there either. Even more so in season 2, where she is amnesiac half the time.
- Megan, Jennifer's mother, is even worse than her daughter.
- Coconut Superpowers: Due to the series' low budget, most of the superpowers in the show are this.
- Comic Books Are Real: Apparently the superhero comic books relate the actual adventures of superheroes. Appearing on the cover of an issue (or possibly having one's miniseries) seems to be an important event in a superhero career.
- Dark and Troubled Past: A minor case for John; before coming to the village, he was working for mobsters as their driver and delivery boy. In fact, the sole reason he accepted to come to his aunt's funeral was to escape his former boss, to whom he'd stolen money.
- Daywalking Vampire: The heroes fight a group of them at the end of season 2. When called out on the fact that they're vampires and yet out in broad daylight, they are rather upset to be held to such a cliché.
- De-power: A poison used by Neil Mac Kormack on The Lord and Théodore, and then by Klaus on himself has this effect, making the subject lose their superpowers.
- The Ditz: About every villager except John. In fact, from the reaction of superheroes coming from outside, the ditziest heroes where indeed gathered in this village to get them out of everybody's hair. Not that the concerned have any clue about this.
- The Dreaded: The villagers are absolutely terrified of The Lord, due to him having a reputation as a mass-murderer and the most dangerous supervillain in History. The season 1 finale proves he does deserve this reputation.
- Eccentric Townsfolk: All of the village's inhabitants — including the civilians.
- Faking the Dead: Mary pretended to be dead in order to make her nephew John come to the village for her funeral.
- Fantastic Racism: The superheroes are quite dismissive of civilians, and don't want any in the village for fear they'd discover their secrets. Their bigotry is constantly portrayed as quite silly (and ironic, considering that for the outside world the villagers would look like a bunch of inbreed morons) and John fight it at every turn.
- Faux Death: Mary's superpower, along with healing.
- Feigning Intelligence: A lot of the Super Zeroes attempt this. Captain Extreme Sports is probably the worse about it.
- Fertile Feet: John alternates between this and Walking Wasteland, apparently depending on whether his good or bad side is taking over.
- Fight Like A Normal: Klaus actually does have a superpower (Telekinesis), but doesn't like it, so he choses to instead fight using Charles Atlas Superpower.
- Flight: Captain Canada can allegedly fly, though he's rather reluctant at first because of a problem with control. He shows later than he can indeed, even carrying several persons with him, but it isn't a smooth ride.
- Flying Seafood Special: Flying rays in the forest. They taste weird too.
- Foreshadowing: John refers to Sister Claudine as his sister a few times, and has to explain each time that it is in the religious sense. She is eventually revealed to be his twin sister.
- Freudian Excuse: The Lord has a surprisingly dark one compared to the setting. His father was a big admirer of a great superhero named Captain Patriot, and one day risked his life to save him from a bunch of supervillains. Captain Patriot repaid his kindness by blaming him for the agression, causing the father to be taken by the authorities and never be seen again.
- Gender-Blender Name:
- The mayor's first name is revealed to be Cecil, which causes him to be mocked by the other villagers. In French Cecil (written Cécile) is mainly a girl name.
- Captain Extreme Sports too, whose first name is Karin.
- Good Thing You Can Heal: Captain Extreme Sports seems to have some sort of self-healing factor, which allows him to constantly perform insanely dangerous stunts, such as base jumping without a parachute or playing paintball with real bullets. He walks from them asking for someone to help him replace parts of his anatomy that were mangled, or casually mentions that some of his organs have been removed.
- Gratuitous English: The title of the series, the villain "The Lord" and many superheroes names (finishing in "-Man"). Of course, all these are spoken with a steadfast French accent ("Ze Lord"). This also includes the villagers' real names, most of which are English (Mary, for instance, is spoken like the French name Marie, and the an in Dan is spoken as in sans).
- Healing Hands: Mary, John's aunt, can heal people with a touch. Her former power is said to be able to bring people back to life, but it deteriorated. She can still vanquish The Lord's mind control this way, which comes quite handy.
- Hidden Elf Village: A modern version. The villagers sure weren't much concerned with the outside world, and even tried to chase away any "civilians" who could discover their secret, until the menace of The Lord showed up.
- An Ice Person: Allen, a.k.a. Captain Cold. Being the village's bartender, he uses his power to create ice in drinks.
- Instant Costume Change: Spoofed with Captain Trois-Rivières, who is nowhere instant in changing into or out of his superhero costume.
- Invisibility / Intangibility: Laurence Awkins was a scientist searching for the secret of invisibility. He's been a bit too successful, however, also becoming nearly fully intangible and weightless, so much than any gust of wind can send him flying.
- Mique. And he's extermely bad at hidding it, even when trying.
- Araignée Man. He just can't have a discussion with John without slapping him.
- Neil Mac Kormack is more subtle about it, but shows every hint of being a big one.
- Kryptonite Factor: Strangely, for John, it's the proximity of John Senior, his father.
- Laughably Evil: The Lord can be genuinely threatening, but for most of season 1, he is trapt in the middle of nowhere with nobody to mind control but idiots who cannot execute his orders right, so a lot of jokes are made at his expenses.
- Living Lie Detector: Doug, who freeze solid whenever he hears a lie (or tells one). This had ruined his career as a lawyer (not that he seems to be smart enough to be one anyway). A Running Gag is that absolutely no-one notices or seem to make the connection when he freezes while a plot-relevant lie is spoken in front of him.
- Luke, I Am Your Father:
- John, John Senior is your father. Except he Cannot Spit It Out.
- Jennifer, The Lord is your father! Hinted in season 1, confirmed in season 2.
- John, Sister Claudine is your sister. No, not just your sister, your biological sister too.
- Made of Iron: Captain Extreme Sports. A necessity, considering how often he hurts himself.
- Magic Feather: In season 2, Vanur gives Burt a special tea to help him recover his power as Acid-Man. When out of tea, however, Vanur reveals that there were no "special ingredient" in it, it was just a matter of confidence.
- Mass "Oh, Crap!": In season 3, when Klaus plugs back the Hero Corp call center. Hundred of distress calls are coming in.
- Mind-Control Eyes: The victims of The Lord have glowing eyes, making them easily identifiable.
- Mind Manipulation: The Lord's superpower. He can control the mind of anybody he touches, and then the victims can propagate the control to those they touch too. Thus he can raise an army of minions rather easily.
- Mistaken for Gay: John's father attempts to speak with his son (who does not know who he is), consist in telling him he's handsome and that he's glad to have met him. This leads said son to understand something else entirely.
- Mix-and-Match Critters: There's a few weird creatures around, like sheeps with scorpion stinger, or Klaus' hogs with feathers. Rarely ever seen on screen, however.
- The Mole:
- Neil Mac Kormack
- Cecil, for Hoodwink.
- Mique, for Eraste (although not entirely willingly).
- Muggles: Those without superpowers are called "civilians" here.
- Mundane Utility: What about everybody's superpowers are mostly used for throughout the series.
- Stève bakes bread or starts campfires with his fire power.
- Allen chills drinks or replace an icer with his cold power.
- Captain Shampoo produces shampoo, etc.
- Doug's power of freezing solid when hearing a lie is never used to actually function as a lie detector, even when the villagers would need one. Instead, he is occasionnally used as a battering ram once frozen.
- New Powers as the Plot Demands: Basically John's superpower, period. It is essentially adapting to whatever situation he's in, and has been described as an "antidote". However, John has very little control over this, frustrating him to no end. So far, he's demonstrated becoming invulnerable, intangible, to teleport, to resist mind control, to turn into a werewolf, to survive an explosion, to explode himself and then reform, to feel danger, to return bullets, etc. His family seems rather scared of the prospect he'd develop offensive powers.
- John has demonstrated about every form of this trope, from instant regeneration to turning intangible, including becoming Immune to Bullets. Ironically, it fits well with his superhero identity, "Bouclier-Man" (Shield Man), despite having no clue what his power was when chosen.
- Captain Concrete can turn his body into concrete at will, making him immune to blunt force.
- Noodle Incident: There seem to have been a war involving superheroes sometimes in the past, leading to the creation of the Village and the Agency. Very little is ever said about it.
- Not So Final Confession: Steve, Burt, Stan and Capitaine Extreme Sports enter this when they think Eraste will kill them. Burt in particular confesses "more than friendly" feelings for Stan.
- Not Using the Z Word: The zombies from season 3 are never called such, only ever refered to as "beasts".
- Offscreen Moment of Awesome: Jennifer somehow manages to capture one of the zombies all by herself, without any witness. Not that this changes the opinion the heroes have of her one bit.
- Only Sane Man:
- Poor John.
- Mary is usually more level-headed than the other villagers, though that does not mean much.
- Klaus in season 3 is slowly ascending to this, although he still has a lot of Too Dumb to Live moments (see below).
- In the tied-in webseries, which is centered on Megan (Jennifer's mother), Kyle and later The Lord, it's Megan who fills this role.
- Planet Eris: So far, superheroes, mutants, vampires, werewolves and strange animals are known to exist. It seems the DC and Marvel superheroes also exist. Season 3 also features zombies.
- Playing with Fire: Stève, a.k.a. "Brasier". As the village's baker, he uses his power to bake bread.
- Please Put Some Clothes On: John's first reaction when he found Elena (daughter of a storm and a laurel) naked in his bed.
- Poisonous Person: John, shortly in season 1, accidentally contaminating the food suply.
- Poke the Poodle: Mique and Kyle's attempts at supervillainy are nothing but this.
- Psychic Powers: Several superheroes (and a supervillain) powers.
- The Lord is a master of Mind Manipulation.
- Mique can read thoughts, although approximatively, resulting often in "Blind Idiot" Translation.
- Stan has the power of persuasion. At least, he says so. He does, but it's more complex to implement than he thought.
- Klaus can move items with telekinesis, but he's ashamed of this power and reluctant to use it.
- Red Eyes, Take Warning: The zombies'. Especially Mique's, when he start turning into one.
- Reports of My Death Were Greatly Exaggerated: Everybody believes The Lord to be dead. That's why the villagers have lots of trouble getting any help from Hero Corp in the first place.
- Required Secondary Powers: Stève, notably, seems to lack any immunity to fire to go along with his pyrokinetic power. He once burns himself just by wiping his brow after baking bread. His superhero costume is quite clearly a fireproof suit.
- Riddle Me This: Fourmi Man attempts this, but he's totally inept at it.
- The Scottish Trope: The cultists never pronounce Hypnos' name outside of ceremonies. Every time John says it, they throw their heads down.
- The Scrappy: In-universe, Jennifer is seen as this by the other villagers, especially Klaus. Increased in season 3, where only Mary seems remotely sympathetic.
- Shock and Awe: Valur the Icelander has the power of lightning. Unlike the villagers, he didn't let his power degrade and is very powerful.
- Some Kind of Force Field: In season 3, John gets trapped in a cabin surrounded by a force field, normally invisible but looking like a Beehive Barrier when touched. This leads to two such scenes, first when John is testing it, and then when Mique tries walking through the force field and smashes his head — thrice.
- Something Person: Most of the heroes who are not Captain Superhero are named like this. Bonus points when the "Something" is the French translation of an existing superhero name (Chauve-souris Man, Araignée Man, Fourmi Man...).
- Super Strength: Klaus
- Super Zeroes: A majority of the characters, really. The excuse that their powers have declined with age and disuse is proposed, but you get the feeling that most of them weren't very good superheroes to begin with. A large part of the story is about them reclaiming their former glory, but it's an uphill battle.
- Surrounded by Idiots:
- A recurrent problem for John.
- Also for each season's main villains.
- Take Our Word for It: The special effect budget for the show isn't huge, so several things are described but never seen.
- Teleport Interdiction: Eraste can block Mac Kormack's power to teleport away.
- Teleport Spam: If pushed, Mac Kormack can do it. Unfortunately for him, he tires easily.
- Terrible Interviewees Montage: A short one in season 3 episode 16. The candidates are even worse than the usual pseudo-heroes.
- Token Evil Teammate: Mique, from the very start. It gets even worse once he starts turning into an undead.
- Too Dumb to Live: Several of the characters can be said to be, but for the most stand-out examples...
- Mique, after being bitten by a zombie, asks nobody else than Laurence Awkins for help, despite him being neither a doctor or a druid (and not caring). Instead of, say, a long-standing member of their group with a well-known Healing Hands power.
- Klaus, to know the effect of an allegedly poisonous substance, find nothing better than to test it out on himself.
- Took a Level in Jerkass: John in season 3. Mainly because he seems to be fighting with his dark side.
- The Unfavourite: John's mother clearly states her preferences toward her son, to the detriment of his twin sister Claudine.
- The Unintelligible: The shepherds recruited by The Lord don't talk, only always belching.
- Use Your Head:
- Doug, after freezing from hearing a lie, is sometimes used as a living battery ram.
- John Senior, a.k.a. Captain Concrete, uses his head to batter obstacles.
- The Voice:
- Laurence Awkins, a.k.a. Super Invisible. He's invisible and almost intangible, so he's just a disembodied voice. He finally regains his physical body in season 3.
- Théodore, a.k.a. The Voice. He's in a very bad shape and stuck to a hospital bed, only talking with Neil Mac Kormack through a communicator.
- Walking Wasteland: John alternates between Fertile Feet and this, apparently depending on whether his good or bad side is taking over.
- What Kind of Lame Power Is Heart, Anyway?: A lot of the heroes' power are this, from design or from power degeneration.
- Captain Shampoo can squirt shampoo from his hands. The kind that doesn't even sting the eyes.
- The mayor, Cecil, can take the appearance of someone unknown. Useless in a fight, naturally. However he uses it very efficiently to take control of Hero Corp by impersonating a recently deceased tycoon who none of the others knew personally.
- Stan, a.k.a. Mental, has the power of persuasion. But he claims it only works if the subject agrees with him. He's certainly the closest to having no power at all. Season 3 reveals that it does work, but he has first to built a complex imagery around the suggestion, which can take some time.
- Araignée Man's power is "being mean", because spiders (araignée in French) are mean.
- Chauve-souris Man (chauve-souris is the French for bat) is revealed to have the awesome power of... living at night and sleep during the day. But he still needs to sleep at night somehow. And he also seem to have the visual abilities of a bat....
- Dan is a half-man half-chicken mutant, which means his "power" is having feathers growing out of his lower backside.
- Fourmi Man (Ant Man)'s power is to carry bread for his pals. And to not be tall.
- Jennifer is revealed to be a mermaid, which means she gains webbed hands and gills when taking a shower... and can hold her breath underwater for a full 14 seconds.
- World of Snark: Although there're more Ditzes than Only Sane Men in this world, even the ditzes are snarking.
- Wreathed in Flames: John in the beginning of season 3. As usual, he has no control over it. At first it's probably just a reaction to the cold, but then it's linked to his emotional state.
- You, Get Me Coffee: Cecil, once in control of Hero Corp, gets Neil Mac Kormack to serve him coffee as payback for his past condescension.