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Film / Black Scorpion

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Black Scorpion is a made-for-TV movie that first aired on Showtime in 1995. It was followed by a sequel, Black Scorpion: Aftershock (1997), and a live-action series on the Sci-Fi channel. The latter lasted a single season, running from January to June, 2001. It was very campy, almost like a live-action Silver Age comic book, using deliberately exaggerated and unrealistic characters and events to comic effect. The television series in particular was heavily influenced by the 1960s Batman (1966) series as well as the trend of having Playboy models in leather getups akin to Baywatch. The bad acting, fanservice models and cheap production values made the series look like a porn parody film but without the sex. The character was revived for a short-lived 2009 comic book from Blue Water Productions.

After her father is murdered before her eyes, police detective Darcy Walker becomes the vigilante Black Scorpion to avenge him. She is assisted in this goal by a former car thief, Argyle Sims, who turns her car into the Scorpion Mobile and acts as her confident. Other important characters include Darcy's partner, Steve Rafferty, who is determined to capture Black Scorpion (and is more than a little smitten with the crimefighter), the corrupt Mayor Worth, her comically inept fellow officers Specs and Slugger, and their idiot boss Captain Strickland.

The series is available for streaming on Shout Factory and Tubi.

Tropes from the films and series include:

  • Action Girl: Black Scorpion, of course.
  • Adam Westing: Not only did Adam West take over the role of Breathtaker for the series, but Frank Gorshin of 60's Batman fame appeared as Clockwise.
  • The Alcoholic: Judge Cheetum in "Crime Time" really likes his martinis, to the point that he keeps preparing one while Black Scorpion and Clockwise battle in his office.
  • All Crimes Are Equal: The attitude of a Punisher-like vigilante fittingly called the Angel of Death. Her grand plan involves gassing a prison and killing all the criminals in it, including herself!
  • Animal-Themed Superbeing: Though much like her inspiration, she doesn't actually have any superpowers, using the theming instead for intimidation.
  • Anti-Villain: Formerly heroic firefighter Inferno's desire to kill the Mayor seems pretty justified — after slashing the fire department's budget, the Mayor hires an arsonist (his former cellmate!) to burn down numerous buildings in Angel City, which leads directly to Adam's transformation into a man with firestarting touch.
  • A-Team Firing: Everybody, save Darcy and sometimes Steve, has some pretty lousy aim, but the police can't seem to hit anything resembling a human target, even when they have the advantage of a good position. note 
  • Bachelor Auction: The episode "No Stone Unturned" features one of these, complete with the guy who thinks he's hot stuff getting a lower than starting bid (Slugger), and a straight guy being won by a gay man (Specs), however while Darcy bids on Love Interest Steve, she loses out to the vengeance-seeking Minerva Stone/Medusa.
  • Badass Normal: Being a distaff expy of Batman, Black Scorpion naturally has no superpowers. But she does have a lot of cool gadgets.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: While the villain of the week, a thrash band, are defeated by Black Scorpion, the mayor's plan to use them as a way to win his reelection succeeded.
  • Better the Devil You Know: Used as both a pun and a point Black Scorpion tried to make about the Angel of Death. Naturally Steve doesn't buy it.
  • Big Bad: Mayor Worth, albeit through his actions rather then any actual intent.
  • Brainless Beauty: Mayor Worth's secretary and mistress Babette is gorgeous... With a single digit IQ.
    • Also every female henchman seems to require their master's plans spelled out for them.
  • Camp: The first film took itself a little more seriously, but the second started to take it up to eleven.
  • Captain Ersatz: A number of villains in Black Scorpion's Rogues Gallery are incredibly campy (sometimes gender-swapped) versions of some of Batman's villains. The Gangster Prankster, who is The Joker but with a more street thug image. He even has a permanently distorted smile and clown make-up along with an air-headed female sidekick.
  • Clock King: Clockwise is one of these, complete with a time-stopping stopwatch.
  • Construction Catcalls: In Aftershock, a group of construction workers catcall and harass Babette as she walks past. They noticeably do not do the same when Prof. Undershaftt follows her. After being transformed into Aftershock, Undershaft returns and takes her revenge on the foreman.
  • Cool Car: The Scorpion Mobile, a bulletproof black Porsche kitted out with a lightning gun (the "Scorpion Sting"), gatling guns, oil slick, and can transform into Darcy's white Corvette.
    • Argyle has his own cool car, a classic Cadillac painted in his namesake pattern.
  • The Cowl: Black Scorpion
    Opening Narration: "In the light of day Darcy Walker is a cop, but in the dark of night she becomes Black Scorpion; doing with a mask what she can't do with a badge."
  • Create Your Own Hero: The the villain of the first film creates the hero by killing her father.
  • Create Your Own Villain:
    • The mayor in the second film ends up turning Dr. Undershaft into Aftershock when his men sabotage her invention. This repeats several times in the series with the mayor's crooked schemes creating several villains.
    • Flashpoint is a tabloid photographer obsessed with discovering Black Scorpion's secret identity who is blinded by her energy ring, but his eyesight was restored by advanced laser surgery, making him one of the heroine's most persistent archenemies.
  • Cyborg/Dark Action Girl: Aerobicide is a physical fitness themed supervillain enhanced by cybernetics. Unsurprisingly, she's one of the more physically competent villains Black Scorpion faces.
    Aerobicide: "I'm an exercise machine!"
  • Darker and Edgier: The comic book adaptation is far less campy.
  • Dark Lord on Life Support: Starter Villain Breathtaker is confined to suit of armour that breathes for him: having been shot through both lungs.
  • Dating Catwoman: Darcy and Adam Burns/Inferno.
  • Death Is Cheap: Thanks to the city's Mad Scientist odd experiments, most of Black Scorpion's Rogues Gallery don't stay down for long even if killed.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Medusa turns Steve into stone because years ago, after her face was horribly scared by acid, he let her down gently when she threw herself at him.
    • Also Professor Prophet who releases Aftershock, Breathtaker, Inferno, and Hurricane upon the city to prove his latest prediction of the city being destroyed by the four elements of nature... Just because his TV show's ratings were declining.
  • Double Vision: Used for a scene where Darcy hallucinates herself fighting Black Scorpion. Done via the usual Over the Shoulder tricks, but they do briefly share the screen where the "switch" is done via the hallucination effect itself.
  • Economy Cast: Borders on Minimalist Cast, if it wasn't for the fact they don't list her rogues in the opening credits, effectively the entire cast for the series would be the opening credits.
  • Evil Cripple: Breathtaker was shot through both lungs, and was legally dead for 13 minutes before his heart spontaneously started beating again. However, the damage caused to his lungs and neural damage from his brain death left dependent on a suit of powered armour to breath and move.
  • Evil Costume Switch: Both Gail and Edwina go through this after becoming Hurricane and Stunner. Also happens with Adam when he becomes Inferno.
  • Evil Minions: Almost all of the supervillains have exactly two of them.
    • Even the mayor has two.
  • Firemen Are Hot: Darcy falls for firefighter Adam Burns, making it all the more tragic when he becomes the supervillain Inferno.
  • Frog And The Scorpion: The tale that inspires Darcy to become Black Scorpion.
  • Flashback with the Other Darrin: Scenes from the first movie were completely reshot (and abbreviated) due to Michelle Lintel and Adam West taking over the roles of Black Scorpion and Breathtaker, respectively. Somewhat averted with scenes from the second movie, with new footage of Lintel spliced in with existing footage of Sherrie Rose, who returned for the series.
  • Hero with Bad Publicity: Black Scorpion is considered a criminal vigilante by the police.
  • Hurricane of Puns: In each episode the villain's theme becomes a fountain head for various puns from the criminal or Black Scorpion.
  • In-Series Nickname: Argyle has one of these for Darcy; he calls her "Blue" (because she is a cop).
  • Intimate Lotion Application: In the episode "Wave Goodbye", Darcy and Steve are undercover investigating a beach, and Darcy decides to sunbathe and asks Steve to rub sun lotion on her back and legs. He reluctantly complies, which only increases their Unresolved Sexual Tension.
  • Joker Immunity: Even if a villain from Black Scorpion's Rogues Gallery is clearly killed off, they usually come back thanks to Dr. Phoenix's obsession with cloning dead villains in the hopes to reform them.
  • Karmic Death: Clockwise is killed by one of his own age-inducing bombs.
    • Greenthumb is eaten by the mutant Venus Flytrap he created to kill Black Scorpion.
  • Karma Houdini: Despite being the cause of most of the city's problems and the reason for most of its super villains, Mayor Worth remains free and the mayor. It's even lampshaded.
    Darcy: "Doesn't matter what happens, he (Mayor Worth) always survives."
  • Kiss of Death: The method used by the Angel of Death.
  • Kiss of Life: Steve gives one of these to Darcy in "No Stone Unturned."
  • Leotard of Power: Black Scorpion wears this, as do all the female supervillains.
  • Love Interest: Steve is this for Darcy, but (of course) Steve only has eyes for her alter ego, Black Scorpion.
  • Mad Scientist: Dr. Phineas Phoenix. Not evil, but certainly mad. The first time we meet him he's working on resurrecting dead supervillains in order to rehabilitate them. He gets the resurrection part right...
  • Magical Camera: Flashpoint has one that let him to take Phantom Zone Pictures
  • Most Common Superpower: Black Scorpion really fills out that suit, as do the female villains.
  • Motive Decay: Inferno's reason for being a Super villain is forgotten due to Dr. Phoenix's attempt to rehabilitate him. Needless to say it didn't work out.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Black Scorpion fights crime in what is essentially a one piece bathing suit. The films even feature full frontal nudity.
  • Must Have Nicotine: Captain Strickland, who chain smokes even while wearing a gas mask.
  • Nightmare Sequence: The episode "Out of Thin Air" is full of them, thanks to Breathtaker's plot to flood the city with fear gas.
    • Darcy's personal nightmare? Being hunted by her own alter ego.
  • '90s Anti-Hero
  • Oil Slick: An oil gun is one the weapons installed in the Stingray.
  • Omnidisciplinary Scientist: Argyle in the series. In the films he's merely a former carjacker who tricked out Darcy's car thanks to stuff that Fell Off the Back of a Truck. In the series he's able to develop counter moves to the tech of the Super Villain of the week. Oddly he says he's never been to college.
  • Phantom-Zone Picture
    • Flashpoint's henchwomen Vision uses a camera that can trap people in it, suposeddly in a Human Popsicle way, to help Flashpoint escape his cell in jail, later, she presses the "print" button and the real Flashpoint materializes.
    • Flashpoint again uses the Magical Camera to capture Black Scorpion, but when he "prints" her, he "photoshops" some chains to her.
    • At the end, Flashpoint and Vision get Hoist by His Own Petard by being trapped in the Magical Camera and being uploaded to a satellite, last time we see them they seem to be in a Portal Picture.
  • Pointy-Haired Boss: Captain Strickland is a nice guy, but he's more or less completely incompetent.
  • Police Are Useless With the exception of Darcy, and to a lesser extent Steve. Captain Strickland even lampshades it:
    Captain Strickland: "Now I know why the Mayor called us incompetent. Because we are!
  • Pop the Tires: At the start of Aftershock, the Black Scorpion shoots at the tyre of Dick and Jane's car, causing them to crash.
  • Powered Armor: Slapshot uses one which doubles as a Super Wheelchair.
  • Psycho Electro: Stunner, formerly the mayor's deputy.
  • Rogues Gallery: Naturally, though most seem to want to kill the mayor rather than Black Scorpion. Darcy even lampshades it:
    Darcy: It does seem to be a favorite pastime of the super villains in this city.
  • Shoot the Rope: In Aftershock, the Black Scorpion saves Rick from being hanged by the Gangster Prankster by shooting the rope with her scorpion sting.
  • Sleazy Politician: Mayor Worth is a prime example. The series takes it even further with the comments of Darcy's coworkers:
    Steve: "Who would gain from Mayor Worth's death?"
    Captain Strickland: "Mrs. Worth."
    Specs: "His kids."
    Slugger: "His employees."
    Strickland: "The taxpayers."
    Slugger: "Plants and animals."
    Specs: "Basically future generations."
  • Special Guest: The episode "Love Burns" features Dave Mustaine (of Megadeth!) as an arsonist named Torchy Thompson.
  • Steven Ulysses Perhero: Most super villain's real names are a direct reference to their theme/power:
    Darcy: A fireman named Burns?
    • Medusa/Minerva Stone
    • Clockwise/Benjamin Tickerman
    • Aerobicide/Suzy Pain
    • Greenthumb/Eugene Gardner
    • Pollutia/Dr. Ariel Haze
    • Mindbender/Dr. Sarah Bellum
    • Slapshot/Ricky Blade
    • Stunner/Edwina Watts
    • Doctor Phoenix is not exactly a villain, but just as the mythological phoenix is known for coming back from the dead, he constantly resurrects dead supervillains. He also keeps spare clones of himself in case he gets killed.
    • In addition, many (if not all) of the named civilians shown have Punny Names. (Judge Cheetum, Warden Brickhouse, Petroleum magnate Gaston Filmore...)
  • Stock Footage: The TV series was produced by Roger Corman and nearly every episode features stock footage from various Corman films. The car chase sequences are also always the same footage.
  • Straw Feminist: Aerobicide is a man-hater with an axe to grind — she and her minions rob men's clubs. Every male character in the series conveniently becomes a one-episode misogynist when she shows up.
  • Stripperific: Black Scorpion's costume. One of many kinds of fanservice she provides.
  • Taken for Granite: Doing this to people is Medusa's schtick.
  • The City: Angel City
  • Those Two Guys: Slugger and Specs
  • Thou Shalt Not Kill: Averted with Darcy due to her being a cop she is willing to kill when necessary.
  • Two-Faced: The Ganster Prankster in the films has this with the right side of his face looking like a clown.
  • Unhand Them, Villain!: In the pilot movie, Breathtaker is holding Russo aloft on a catwalk in the chemical plant. Black Scorpion arrives and yells "Let him go!", to which Breathtaker replies "With pleasure" and immediately tosses him over the railing.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Many of Black Scorpion's enemies are these.
    • The cyborg Firearm seeks to punish the mayor for passing a bill that would make it easier for citizen's to get the sort of high powered guns that nearly killed - when he learns that the mayor was forced to pass the law by a gun craving public, he goes on a shooting spree to teach the citizens of Angel City that Guns Are Bad.
    • Hurricane is an (completely insane) environmental activist who is willing to destroy Angel City to prevent further polluting of Angel Bay.
    • Aerobicide destroyed her body trying to live up to chauvinistic beauty standards and now seeks to destroy patriarchy.
    • Aftershock only wanted to help people to predict earthquakes and help the homeless to get houses.
  • Where Does He Get All Those Wonderful Toys?: From the beginning, it's explained that Argyle uses his past connections and position as a junkyard owner to get access to discarded military tech, which he uses to outfit Darcy with amazing gadgets.
  • With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: Recurring theme in the series. If any character gains a Power from an accident, then insane laughter is sure to follow.
  • Yellow Peril: Red Dragon and his goons.
    Black Scorpion: "The problem with fighting Chinese gangs is an hour later I wanna fight again."