Blankman is a 1994 superhero parody film, directed by Mike Binder. It features a nerdy amateur inventor trying to start a superhero career.
Darryl Walker (Damon Wayans) is an appliance repairman with a gift for inventing but has a tendency to observe life through rose-colored glasses, failing to notice the urban decay, political corruption and police indifference surrounding him (not even realizing that his flat is right next door to a crackhouse), in stark contrast to politically active Grandma Walker (Lynne Thigpen), his own grandmother. Grandma is a key figure in the political campaign of mayoral candidate Marvin Harris (Christopher Lawford), who is running on an anti-corruption platform; this results in Grandma's assassination by order of local mob boss Michael "The Suit" Minelli (Jon Polito).
Finally aware of what's going on around him, Darryl becomes determined to fight crime, at first in a low-key way (helping an old woman against a mugger), but he quickly decides this is not enough. So he creates an arsenal of weapons and gadgets, puts on a ridiculous suit and starts his one-man crusade. He is soon joined by his brother Kevin (David Alan Grier), a news cameraman with a decidedly down-to-earth view. Kevin acts as Darryl's advisor, determined not to let his brother get killed.
The cast is soon rounded by a love interest to both brothers, television reporter Kimberly Johns (Robin Givens). The press dubs Darryl as "Blankman." At first, Blankman is merely helping civilians and facing various thugs, but then takes his first high-profile case: Minelli's gang has taken Mayor Harris hostage in a bank, threatening to detonate explosives if their terms are not met. Blankman intervenes, sends the gang running... but fails to disarm the explosives. The popular Mayor is killed, the bank is destroyed and Blankman barely escapes with his life.
Now the public turns on the failed hero and Minelli is out for blood. He abducts Kimberly to lure Blankman to his location. This motivates even Kevin to put on a superhero costume, as imaginatively-named sidekick "Other Guy." All is set for a final battle.
The film was intended to be an Affectionate Parody of various films portraying Superman and Batman, but reviewers noted it was "surprisingly mild on good laughs." The deaths of Grandma and Mayor Harris were hardly humorous material, and several other scenes were often amusing but not laugh-out-loud material. Much of the better humor curiously came from Straight Man Kevin's reaction to extraordinary situations. The film was not particularly successful critically or commercially, grossing just $7,941,977 in the U.S. box office. It was only the 122nd most successful film of its year. The film seems to be better remembered by those interested in the entire superhero film genre, rather than the general audience.
This film provides examples of:
- Ascended Fanboy: Darryl is showcased to have been a superhero fanboy from the time he was little, and becomes a superhero when he's older.
- And This Is for...: Darry tells Minelli his final attack is for his grandmother whom his men killed near the beginning of the movie.
- Back-to-Back Badasses: Kevin and Darryl, in an In-Universe Shout-Out to the old Batman TV series.
- Badass Normal: Kevin is the better fighter of the two brothers, which is good because he lacks gadgets and a bulletproof costume.
- Bald of Evil: A twofer—Kevin's boss Mr. Stone and Minelli.
- Big Damn Heroes: Played straight often but tragically averted during the bank robbery. Blankman has nothing to defuse bombs with, and thus a pretty great man dies.
- Big "NO!": Done to humorous effect by Darryl after J-5 gets destroyed by a bomb.
- Big "WHAT?!": Kevin's reaction when Darryl informs him that his suit wasn't bulletproofed — right after Kevin finished goading Minelli's thugs into shooting him.
- Black and Nerdy: Darryl is a complete geek, Nerd Glasses and odd laugh included.
- Bungling Inventor: Darryl again. Several of his gadgets not only look odd (his superhero costume being a onesie, for example) but backfire on him when he uses them.
- Camp Gay: A number of crimefighters are shown to be inspired by Blankman, one of whom is a lisping, soft-spoken, leather-clad stereotype called Gay Man.
- Crazy-Prepared: Darryl built a robot out of junk designed to, among other things, safely contain explosives!
- Damsel in Distress: Kimberly. And it is only when she is in danger that both brothers get serious.
- Death by Origin Story: Darryl and Kevin's grandmother was assassinated by "The Suit" and his minions to try to strong-arm the politician she worked for.
- Deconstruction: Blankman, like Kick-Ass many years after it, shows how much danger a person can put himself through if they decide to go fighting crime without any formal training. Without Kevin, Darryl would have been dead during the first night.
- Also, the bank robbery scene points out how ridiculous it is for law enforcement to entrust their job to a caped crusader with odd gadgets; an obvious riff towards the concept of Batman.
- Demoted to Extra: Kevin's seen this way to the public. They literally call him "Other Guy."
- Diabolical Mastermind: Minelli. Blankman even calls him a "diabolical fiend."
- Domino Mask: Kevin/Other Guy wears one (Blankman wears a sock with eye-holes cut out).
- Gadgeteer Genius: Darryl himself, using all of his gadgets as a make-shift superhero.
- Hollywood Nerd: Darryl can create an awful lot of stuff with the garbage lying around and somehow managed to concoct a substance that can stop bullets and blades stone cold from the chemicals lying around in a cleaning room.
- Homage: Explicitly to the old Batman TV series with the method of going Back-to-Back Badasses.
- Homemade Inventions: Darryl's gadgets include a robot made out of an old washing machine and motorized nunchucks made of two flashlights strapped together. His superhero uniform is bulletproof, sure, but it's still a freaking onesie.
- Hope Spot: Darryl chased off Minelli's goons and successfully defused the bomb they were going to use to assassinate Mayor Harris, and the day appears to be saved. Then, as they're celebrating the victory, Kevin notices the ticking noises haven't stopped...
- I Have Your Girlfriend: At Stones suggestion, Minelli kidnaps Kimberly and uses her as bait to draw out Blankman.
- I Know Karate: Kevin. Which is a good thing because it allows him as "Other Guy" to be the muscle to Darryl's brains... and because it's the only advantage he has.
- Jizzed in My Pants: Darryl, after Kimberly gives him a "thank you" kiss.
- Jumped at the Call: Darryl goes a bit loco after his grandmother is assassinated and starts actively fighting crime.
- Let's Get Dangerous!: Blankman remains somewhat inept throughout the film. Including losing battles to thugs. But by the final battle, he is motivated enough to take down said thugs and their boss with relative ease.
- Lighter and Softer: It's like Kick-Ass (which came years after this film) but done as a straight up comedy.
- Love Triangle: Both Darryl and Kevin are in love with Kimberly.
- My Friends and Zoidberg!: Kevin humourously keeps being referred to as "Other Guy" despite the fact he's a lot more competent at the superhero game (having taken martial arts) then Darryl.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: The save attempt resulting in Mayor Harris' death.
- To be fair, though, they didn't know he had more than one bomb before it was too late. The point of that scene was to show that even superheroes can't save everyone.
- Not Really a Birth Scene: Blankman and his cousin Kevin help a woman trapped in an elevator to give birth. All three are screaming loudly as this happens, though. The woman, for obvious reasons, Kevin, because when he offered his hand to the woman, she grabbed his crotch instead and squeezed as hard as she could, and Blankman because, well... he's a bit of a dork who doesn't really know what's going on ("...It's so ugly.").
- Not What It Looks Like: Kevin tries to quickly end an unwanted call from Darryl on his belt-buckle communicator by saying he can't play now and promising to take him out later. Obviously, it's the worst time for Kimberly to walk up to him from behind."...I wasn't talkin' to my jammy!"
- Police Are Useless: So incompetent and apathetic that you have to question if they're on Minelli's payroll! Considering the city hasnt paid them for weeks prior to Harriss election...
- The Pollyanna: Darryl is pretty peppy and the only times the plot makes him become gloomy are when people he loves are killed.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: Mayor Harris, which is why all of the other characters look up to him and why his death (including the fact Darryl can't save him and Harris decides to Face Death with Dignity) is one of the most heartbreaking scenes of the whole film.
- Reed Richards Is Useless: Darry could have sold his method for making bulletproof cloth made millions and used that to pay the cops.
- Robot Buddy: J-5, the home-made 'bot that Darryl manufactured out of an old washing machine.
- Rollerblade Good: Blankman uses jet-powered roller blades to catch up with Minelli.
- Sacrificial Lion: Mayor Harris is killed by the Suit when killing people next to him (like Darryl's grandma) does nothing to dissuade him from his crusade on crime. Darryl also gets a pretty big Heroic BSoD out of being unable to save him.
- Secret-Keeper: At first, Kevin is the only one to know that Blankman and Darryl are the same person.
- The finale reveals that Kimberly had deduced it on her own, but willingly kept silent about it.
- Sidekick: Other Guy to Blankman. Some Appropriated Appellation is involved on that name.
- Stuffed into the Fridge: Downplayed. Grandma is murdered, all right, and it does motivate Darryl to become a crimefighter, but it wasn't done to send a message to either of her grandsons; she was targeted for her own activities. By that point, Minelli probably had no idea said grandsons existed.
- Tempting Fate: Knowing Darryl made the costumes bulletproof, Kevin, as Other Guy, gleefully mocks all the mooks with guns. Then he gets shot in the shoulder, for you see, Blankman only made his own costume bulletproof.
- Time Bomb: During the bank robbery scene it paints a tragic picture of how ill-equipped Darryl is in handling a hostage crisis. Especially when you're just an ordinary guy with no experience in defusing a bomb. Zig-zagged in that Darryl does successfully defuse one bomb in time; he just didn't count on Minelli's men planting a dozen other bombs nearby.
- Vigilante Man: Averted. Even when angry, Blankman isn't trying to kill anyone.
- Where Does He Get All Those Wonderful Toys?: From the garbage, for one... although how he managed to find a piece of abandoned subway to set a secret base on is left unexplained.
- You Killed My Grandma: Blankman explicitly says this to Minelli when bringing him in to the police... headfirst through a series of doors.