Follow TV Tropes


Film / Super

Go To
"Shut up, crime!"
"In between the panels. Is that where we are right now?"

A 2010 Black Comedy action film written and directed by James Gunn, Super stars Rainn Wilson as Frank Darbo, a man whose wife, Sarah (Liv Tyler), falls under the spell of a charismatic drug dealer named Jacques (Kevin Bacon). To deal with the trauma and take down Jacques, Frank fights crime using the superhero identity the Crimson Bolt, armed with a garish patchwork suit and a wrench. He's aided by an unstable comic book store employee named Libby (Elliot Page), who becomes his sidekick, Boltie.

It originally screened at the 2010 Toronto Film Festival and was released in select theaters on April 1, 2011, with a VOD release the 8th of that same month.

This film provides examples of:

  • 10-Minute Retirement: Frank asks for a sign to know whether he should stop or keep going, it comes later than he expects so he has to return for his outfit.
  • Accidental Misnaming: Up until his closing monologue, Frank refers to Jacques as "Jock," as does Libby, since Frank was the one who tells her about him.
  • Action Girl: Boltie fights crime with a little too much enthusiasm.
  • Advertised Extra: Linda Cardellini gets her own spot in the animated opening credits despite only being in one scene.
  • Affably Evil: Jacques is remarkably friendly and laid-back in spite of being a drug-dealing homewrecker. He lets Frank's attempts to pick a fight with him slide for an amazingly long time, to the point that he even points out how nice he's being by not reacting.
  • All Crimes Are Equal: "You don't butt in line! You don't sell drugs! You don't molest little children!" All these things will get you a wrench to the face.
  • Amicable Exes: Frank and Sarah ultimately becomes this, with the former even becoming an Honorary Uncle to the latter's children.
  • Ambiguous Situation: It's kept ambiguous as to how much romantic interest Frank has in Libby. He repeatedly spurns her advances because he's married to Sarah and is focused on getting her back. However, he has a romantically charged moment with her "between the panels" and only half-heartedly attempts to stop her forcing herself onto him. In the end, the portrait he's drawn of her "between the panels" is suspiciously more realistic and flattering than the rest of his drawings, and the last shot is of him looking at it with a tear rolling down his cheek. Have his feelings toward her changed now that she's gone and he's alone?
  • And Starring: Nathan Fillion gets the "With" during the Animated Credits Opening.
  • Animated Credits Opening: Featuring a dance sequence including every character shown in the movie, large and small.
  • Anti-Hero: Frank is perhaps pragmatic, but Libby is downright unscrupulous.
  • Arc Words: "Some of His Children Are Chosen"
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Crimson Bolt beats people up for drug dealing, child molesting, and cutting in line at the theater.
  • Ascended Fanboy: Libby is a comic book fan and browbeats herself into a position as a superhero sidekick. Frank isn't interested in comics at all, though he does seem to watch The Holy Avenger quite often.
  • Asshole Victim:
    • Deconstructed with the couple who cut in line. They're obvious assholes with no likable qualities introduced in their time onscreen, but that didn't even remotely justify what they got, and their horror at the attack and the long-term effects of their injuries aren't glossed over.
    • Played straight later on, when the public starts noticing that most of the Crimson Bolt's victims are child molesters, rapists, drug dealers, and murderers, cluing them in that he's not just a psychopath handing out beatings indiscriminately.
    • Outside of the Crimson Bolt's targets, the Scary Black Man drug dealer that rapes Sarah to sweeten the agreement is promptly shot in the head when he walks out of his deal with Jacques.
  • Attempted Rape: This happens to Sarah at the end with one of Jacques' 'clients.'
  • Ax-Crazy: Frank when he gets deep into his mission as the Crimson Bolt, to the point of splitting open the heads of a man and woman who butt in line at a box office. Libby is even worse.
  • Badass Adorable: Libby is a cute young Action Girl who gleefully stabs or mauls criminals while wearing a tight superhero outfit, if that.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Subverted. Libby's face still looks good at the climax, it's just that after a gunshot wound, half of it is missing.
  • Berserk Button: Cutting in line in front of Frank. Pretty much anything to Boltie.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Frank is a nice guy, but he's harboring a lot of pent-up rage that he unleashes on crime.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Frank tries.
  • Bile Fascination: What the Holy Avenger comics seem to be in-universe.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Frank survives, kills the drug-dealers, and rescues Sarah. She leaves him after a few months, but Frank accepts it and moves on, dedicating his life to doing good things and becoming an honorary uncle to Sarah's kids. Frank looks at his wall of accomplishments with his new bunny and seems content. However, Libby has been killed, and the last shot of the film is a tear rolling down Frank's cheek as he looks at a picture of her during their most romantically charged moment.
  • Black-and-Gray Morality: Jacques has no redeeming values whatsoever, but Frank and Libby are both pretty crazy as well.
  • Black-and-White Insanity: How Frank sees the world.
  • Black Comedy: A Man smashing people's heads in with a Pipe Wrench shouldn't be as funny as it looks.
  • Black Comedy Rape: Libby forces herself on the groggy Frank, who awkwardly resists, stating that he's married, before finally tossing her off of himself and then running off to puke. It's played for creepy physical comedy, and the comedy itself comes from how bad Libby is at seduction.
  • Blatant Lies: Frank talking to Hamilton after a news item on TV about Crimson Bolt. Frank yammering to the detective after he notices him repeatedly looking at his closet. Somewhat less so when trying to convince Libby he isn't Crimson Bolt. Frank's pretty bad at this.
  • Bloody Hilarious: The violence in the film is so shockingly bloody that it's darkly humorous.
  • Boobs-and-Butt Pose: Libby poses like this when modelling her Boltie costume for Frank.
  • Book Dumb: Frank is a fry cook who thinks that Jacques's name is "Jock" for most of the film. Libby is even worse, not knowing what a robin is.
  • Book Ends: The movie begins with Frank recounting his two "perfect moments", and getting the idea to draw pictures of them as reminders. The movie ends with Frank looking at his perfect moment pictures again, which are now so numerous that they cover an entire wall and then some.
  • Boom, Headshot!: Several characters, including Libby.
  • Broken Bird: Sarah is recovering from her addiction.
  • Bulletproof Vest: Subverted. Frank's vest only stops a single pistol round shot from a fair distance, and even then Frank is clearly winded for several moments. Every other shot that hits him is in an unprotected area. And then there's Libby, who catches the first bullet aimed at her with her face, rendering her heavy, bulky vest useless.
  • Butt-Monkey: Frank, for most of the film. Even during his crusade as The Crimson Bolt. As he tells God, part of the reason he wants Sarah back is that she is just about the only good thing he has ever had in his entire life.
  • The Cameo: Lloyd Kaufman of Troma fame (where James Gunn got his start), William Katt of The Greatest American Hero, and Nathan Fillion (part of Gunn's Production Posse) all make appearances on the television. Rob Zombie is the voice of god.
  • The Cape: The Holy Avenger.
  • Car Fu: Libby smashes her car into a man and pins him to a wall, crushing his legs.
  • Catchphrase: "Shut up, Crime!"
  • Celibate Hero: Frank turns down Libby's advances because he still considers himself to be a married man. She doesn't take 'no' for an answer.
  • Cerebus Syndrome: The film is pretty dark right from the start, but it's still funny... at first. As the violence increases, it becomes less funny and more disturbing. Once Libby gets killed just before the climax, there's pretty much no more humor to be found.
  • Cheap Costume: They really do look like shit. Frank's is a patchwork mess, and Libby's is just cheap-looking spandex.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • Frank's projectile-thingy. He shows it to Libby at one point, and then uses it to disarm Jacques at the end via a pretty undesirable Groin Attack when he has Frank at gunpoint.
    • Subverted with Libby's bulletproof vest.
    • The plastic bag Frank throws his costume in is later used to hide it while he is wearing it when he shows up to Libby's party.
    • The rabbit. Frank sees it when he visits a pet store early in the movie, but hesitates on buying it...that is, until we see he got it come the end of the movie.
  • Coitus Uninterruptus: Frank thinks back to when he caught his prom date having sex with another guy. She just waved him away without stopping.
  • Crazy Jealous Guy: It's ambiguous at the start whether Frank is a Knight In Shining Armour trying to rescue a Damsel in Distress, or just a jealous jilted lover who thinks his wife's new lover is "stealing her from me". The latter implication is certainly the one the police take, understandably. However, over the course of them film Jacques treatment of Sarah and Frank's willingness to graciously give her up when she ultimately leaves him of her own free will suggest the latter is not the case. At least not entirely.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Libby has her moments.
  • The Cowl: Crimson Bolt.
  • Cute and Psycho: Libby.
  • Damsel in Distress: Sarah becomes this when Jacques gets her hooked on drugs again.
  • Dead Sidekick: Boltie, during the final confrontation. It drives Frank berserk.
  • Death by Secret Identity: Almost everyone who knows Frank is The Crimson Bolt gets killed. That includes the police detective who puts two-and-two together, and gets shot by Jacques' men at Frank's house thinking that it was him. To those same drug dealers near the climax, and even his Kid Sidekick gets killed. The only person who lives is Sarah. And after he saves her, he gives up crime fighting for good.
  • Deconstruction: The film is a deconstruction of super heroes, vigilantism, and Pay Evil unto Evil. While Frank generally has the moral highground, he views all crime as evil and worthy of vicious beatings, to the point where he's more upset Libby might have the wrong guy than that she nearly killed someone over keying a car. This seems over the top until you read any given superhero comic where someone beats the shit out of a purse-snatcher.
  • Determinator: Most people when their wife is taken away from them by a charismatic drug dealer would either let the police deal with it, or failing that, try to cope and live their lives. Most people after their first attempt at heroism goes horribly wrong, would decide to quit. However, most people aren't Frank Darbo.
  • Did Not Get the Girl: This happens to Frank in the end. He does get a new pet bunny, however.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Frank beats a man half to death for butting into a line, then clubs a woman over the head for defending him. Later, Boltie nearly kills someone for (maybe) keying her friend's car.
  • Dissonant Laughter: Libby is prone to cackling maniacally whenever something violent is happening.
  • Dogged Nice Guy: Frank seems like this at first, but he takes far too much pleasure in his "crime fighting" and violence.
  • Double Standard Rape: Female on Male: A mild example. Libby forcing herself on the groggy Frank is played for dark comedy, though the characters themselves are clearly both disturbed by it. It's never referenced again, and both characters seem to just put it behind them. To compare one of Jacques' clients raping an intoxicated Sarah shortly afterwards uses far more discretion, is designed to show what a sleaze Jacques and his partners are, and is perhaps the most bleakly and unironically Played for Drama moment in the movie.
  • The Dragon: Abe, Jacques' lead henchman. Strangely, the Animated Credits Opening shows him breathing fire.
  • Drugs Are Bad: At least in Frank's worldview (which is consistently of questionable connection to reality), everyone involved in drugs is either a hopeless addict or a total scumbag.
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?: Subverted. Frank is initially seen as a serial attacker, but public opinion changes when it becomes clear that most of his victims are criminals. When Frank helps someone, they are usually appreciative afterwards, even the woman whose neck was accidentally injured due to Frank's actions. Even though Sarah eventually leaves Frank, it's implied that she would have left much sooner if not for the obligation she felt towards him because of what he did for her.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending
  • Enemy Rising Behind: Behind You...
  • Epic Fail: Frank's first outing as a superhero ends with him getting his ass kicked, falling into trash and fleeing with a clearly used diaper stuck to his ass.
  • Evil Gloating: Jacques stops short of gunning down an already wounded Frank to give him a vicious "The Reason You Suck" Speech which is enough to piss him off to extremes and provoke a Heroic Second Wind. Things end up very badly for Jacques after that.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Jacques' lead henchman Abe is visibly upset after Jacques sends Sarah up to be raped by his client.
  • Expy: The Holy Avenger, of Bibleman.
  • Fanservice: Libby rolling around her room in extremely short shorts, then making suggestive poses in her spandex outfit, and later fighting crime while wearing little more than her bra.
  • Fan Disservice: Libby in spandex raping Rainn Wilson.
  • Felony Misdemeanor: "You don't BUTT IN LINE!"
  • Foreshadowing: Libby is uncharacteristically apprehensive about storming Jacques' compound and tries to dissuade Frank twice. She's killed soon thereafter.
  • Fragile Speedster: Libby's pretty fragile and more berserk than fast, but this is her general advantage.
  • Genre Deconstruction: Yet another answer to the question, "What would a superhero be like in real life?" The film shows what kind of troubled mind it takes to start attacking criminals while wearing a silly costume. It also shows how finding crime to fight would probably amount to just waiting around sketchy areas, bored out of your mind.
  • Girl with Psycho Weapon: Libby straps a pair of Wolverine Claws to her hand.
  • God: Voiced by Rob Zombie, of all people.
  • Gorn: Boltie ends up with a wound not unlike the T-1000. Unlike him, she's human.
  • Grammar Nazi: One of Jacques's mooks corrects Abe when he uses a double-negative.
  • Groin Attack: Shut up, Crime...
  • Hannibal Lecture: Jacques tries one on Frank after the Groin Attack. Frank just tells him to Shut Up, Hannibal! and stabs him to death.
  • Hearing Voices: Frank frequently hears a voice which he believes is God's. Even he is unclear on whether it's just in his own mind at times however.
  • Heel Realization: Zigzagged. Frank has some awareness that he's crossing lines with his actions and has more than one What Have I Done, especially when witnessing Boltie in action, but he doesn't stop and he actually becomes more violent as he goes.
  • Hentai: Frank flips past a hentai anime and later has a hentai-inspired dream.
  • Heroic Comedic Sociopath: The Crimson Bolt and (even more so, due to a complete lack of remorse) Boltie.
  • Homage: The Holy Avenger is a riff on Bibleman. The comic book Holy Avenger art style is based on the work of Fletcher Hanks.
  • Honorary Uncle: Frank ends up as this to Sarah's kids.
  • Hope Spot: Jacques gets one at the end.
    Jacques: "Do you really think killing me, stabbing me to death is going to change the world?"
    Frank: "I can't know that for sure...unless I try."
  • Hot-Blooded: Libby gets easily riled up.
  • Hypocritical Humor: After telling Frank not to make a joke about her name ("Libby's on your label") after she introduces herself, Libby makes fun of him when he tells her his name, which he immediately points and complains about.
  • The Immodest Orgasm: Libby when she rapes Frank.
  • Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: This is the only thing that saves Frank from bringing a wrench to a gunfight. Unluckily for him, The Dragon is better than his colleagues, stopping to aim and Lead the Target before hitting Frank in the leg as he vaults the fence.
  • Improvised Weapon: Inverted. Frank goes to the comics shop to research weapons that he can use as a superhero. In the next scene he's wielding... a wrench, something you'd expect he would have come upon by chance rather than careful planning.
  • Inelegant Blubbering: "People look stupid when they cry." Frank deliberately does so in front of a mirror, apparently as a kind of self-flagellation.
  • Intergenerational Friendship: Frank is pushing 40, while Libby is 22.
  • Interplay of Sex and Violence: Libby is clearly turned on by violence, coming onto Frank several times after fights (despite his whole crusade being to rescue his wife) and ultimately raping him.
  • I Surrender, Suckers: Jacques immediately hands over Sarah when Frank reaches him, and then tries to appease Frank by noting that he personally killed the guy who tried to rape her (obviously leaving out the fact that Jacques killed him for different reasons entirely). Then, once it's clear that Frank is distracted, Jacques starts shooting.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: At least arguably so. A couple of months after the gunfight at Jacques' ranch, Sarah leaves Frank, but this time he doesn't mind because she's happy (unlike when she's drawn into Jacques' drug ring).
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Jacques, the drug dealer who steals Frank's wife, gets her addicted to heroin, and pimps her out to his client; accuses Frank of being motivated in his vigilantism by getting his wife back, than any calling to fight evil. He's not entirely wrong. Notably, when Frank kills Jacques and rescues Sarah, he apparently gives up the superhero life.
  • Jumped at the Call: A call straight from God, no less.
  • Just a Flesh Wound: Frank gets hit non-fatally in the leg by The Dragon, but he has to spend a while recuperating and going through painful physical therapy before he can get back in the game.
  • Karma Houdini: Played with. Frank ends up not getting much of a happy ending, losing a potential new love interest in Boltie, ultimately losing his old wife Sara who ends up leaving him anyways despite all his efforts, and ends his tenure in the movie in tears like he's about to break down in spite of telling himself he's fine with Sara being happy with another man and getting to be their kids' Honorary Uncle. Psychologically, that could be seen as punishment enough. On the other hand, he also doesn't face any legal or physical comeuppance for some of the disturbing things he does throughout the film, and continues to believe that everything he did was justified.
  • Kick the Dog: Jacques sending an intoxicated and insensible Sarah upstairs with his Scary Black Man drug client.
  • Kid Sidekick: Boltie is a twist on the trope. She insists on following the Crimson Bolt and treats him as a mentor even though he's not exactly the most competent of heroes himself. Although she's 22, her relative youth and small stature in comparison to Frank, as well as her emotional immaturity, make her seem more kidlike.
  • Kill the Cutie: Poor Libby. Sure she was crazy, but... OK, so she was a rapist, actually.
  • Knight Templar: The Crimson Bolt and Boltie. Although Boltie seems more to be in it for the thrills of "stopping crime", than any sense of justice.
  • Large Ham: Frank and Libby both have a lot of bombast when they're in character as the Crimson Bolt and Boltie.
  • Laughing Mad: Libby has a tendency to do this.
  • Little Miss Badass: Boltie is a fully grown adult, but her small stature and relative youth make her a borderline example, given her asskicking.
  • Looks Like Jesus: Nathan Fillion requested that the Holy Avenger have long hair because of this.
  • Loss of Inhibitions: While wearing the mask as Boltie, Libby's worst impulses are unleashed, causing him to commit actions such as violent assault, outright murder, and rape.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Whether Frank is actually having visions or if he is just hallucinating is never revealed. If he is actually having visions, then it would mean that the Holy Avenger is more than some TV actor playing a role, that he's real, and some sort of actual emissary from God.
  • Mission from God: Frank believes he's on one to become a superhero, after receiving visions/hearing voices he believes are from God.
  • Mood Whiplash: The whole movie.
  • Mook Horror Show: The final showdown at the ranch, most notably during the sequence where the Crimson Bolt hangs a dead mook from the roof with a sign on his chest (painted in blood) that reads "BEHIND YOU", only for him to burst in through the window and violently kill the remaining henchmen.
  • More Dakka: Frank and Libby decide they need to gear up before storming Jacques's compound. While gun shopping, Libby tries out a pink .22 rifle, but Frank takes it away and hands her a bazooka.
  • Never Bring A Knife To A Gunfight: Frank brings his trademark wrench the first time he goes to Jacques' compound (that he happens to know a gang of drug dealers operates out of). The moment they see him, they all pull out handguns. Cue Oh, Crap! and running for his life.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: The trailer makes the film out to be a quirky indie film when in reality, it's way darker and bleaker.
  • Non-Powered Costumed Hero: Neither Frank or Libby have superpowers, and Frank specifically asks Libby to help him pick out comics featuring superheroes without powers for inspiration.
  • "Not So Different" Remark: Jacques tries this with Frank/The Crimson Bolt during his Hannibal Lecture. It doesn't quite work.
    Frank (voiceover): So maybe you think there's something wrong with me. Maybe you think that I should learn what Jacques was saying to me. That I am deluded. That I'm just as evil as the rest of them. Well maybe you're the one who needs to learn something. I know what it looks like. But sometimes what it is, and what it looks like, are two different things.
  • N-Word Privileges: Jacques drops an N-bomb in the climax.
  • Off the Wagon: Frank's entire character arc is to save Sarah from her relapse.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • Jacques gets a hell of a good one when he realizes that Frank is really going to go through with stabbing him to death.
    • Behind You
    • The drug dealer that was Frank's first target get one of these when Frank comes back for him... this time with a wrench.
  • One Head Taller: Libby is barely over 5', while Frank is described as about 6'5. The dichotomy emphasizes Libby's youth and helps sell her as his "kid sidekick."
  • Paper-Thin Disguise:
    • Frank. The gangsters instantly recognize him in costume and it takes the police detective about five seconds to work it out from a photo-fit picture.
    • Frank's clearly fake beard when posing as a college student merely confuses the librarian.
  • Parody: The Holy Avenger is a parody of Bibleman and other Religious Edutainment.
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: Frank sees himself as doing this. So does (and more so) Libby.
  • Police Are Useless:
    • The police don't listen to Frank about Jacques, but only because he has no evidence that anything criminal is going on, and Frank never tries going to them again afterward, even after going to their address and seeing piles of drugs and money lying around.
    • The police are useless in tracking down the Crimson Bolt. Frank drives his own car in full view of bystanders, and even though he notes aloud that people can clearly see his license plate, it's never an issue. Only one detective actually suspects Frank, but he's killed while trespassing in Frank's house.
  • Politically Incorrect Hero: Boltie uses the word "gay" in a derogatory fashion. In fact, Libby's first encounter with Frank has her describing the characters in the Holy Avenger comic as "looking like mongoloids."
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: Jacques refers to his "business partner" after shooting him as a "nigger."
  • Prison Rape: Frank imagines him being subjected to this if people find out his true identity, and it freaks him out.
  • Properly Paranoid: Frank realizes that his wife Sarah had left him, shortly after she relapsed, and finds a man named Jacques asking for her. He quickly concludes based on these events, that Jacques had actually taken his wife and got her back on drugs. Despite this seemingly being quite a leap, and as the police had noted, not much evidence to back it up (even the photo of Jacques with her was taken after he had already came to that conclusion), that is exactly what happened.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: You don't BUTT IN LINE!
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Jacques gives Frank an absolutely vicious one after the ranch shootout. And truth be told, he's not wrong, though it leaves Frank a very dangerous opening:
    Jacques: I mean, what are you thinking?! You think you're some kind of fucking hero?! Who the fuck do you think you're kidding? You fucking stupid son of a bitch; this is not about good and evil! This is about I had her, and you didn't! This is about, she loved me more because I! AM! FUCKING! INTERESTING!
    Frank: Shut up, crime! *shots Jacques in the balls*
  • Red and Black and Evil All Over: Demonswill, the Big Bad of the Show Within a Show. Also, the film's actual Big Bad wears a red polo in his overall black suit.
  • Red Is Heroic: Crimson Bolt.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: After Libby gets killed, Frank goes absolutely batshit. It is one of the most disturbing, distressing, depressing things you will ever see. Accompanied by comic-book style sound effect balloons!
  • Sacrificial Lion: Boltie.
  • Scary Black Man: Jacques' drug dealer client.
  • Self-Surgery: Libby is there too, but Frank decides he'd rather patch himself up after being freaked out by her approach to the job.
  • Sensual Spandex: Libby invokes this when she first wore her Boltie costume. Frank is visibly uncomfortable.
  • Show Within a Show: The Holy Avenger has a comic book and an educational TV show.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!: Jacques meets a "Shut up, crime" twice in the final showdown. First after his "The Reason You Suck" Speech above, and then after Frank has him set to kill:
    Jacques: What are you gonna do? you gonna execute me for my sins? Don't think you're better than me, you fucking psycho. You fucking almost killed people for butting into line.
    Frank: *snaps*You don't butt in line!! You don't sell drugs!! You don't molest little children!! You don't profit on the misery of others!! The rules were set a long time ago. They don't change.
    Jacques: *panicking* You really think that killing me, stabbing me to death is gonna change the world?
    Frank: I can't know that for sure... unless I try.
  • Sir Swears-a-Lot: Libby, to the point that Frank chastises her about it.
  • Spiritual Antithesis: It's Kick-Ass but with Travis Bickle as the main protagonist.
  • Spoiler Title: One of the songs on the soundtrack is titled "Libby goes down". What makes this frustrating is that this song plays for a good chunk of the climax and could have easily been called something less spoilery.
  • Stupid Crooks: Jacques's mooks are all idiots, with the possible exception of Abe.
  • Stylistic Suck:
    • The Holy Avenger TV show is laughably crude and silly, with cheesy acting, low production values and ham-fisted morals. One nice detail is the way the Holy Avenger turns to look at characters before they've started to say their lines. It seems to be based on Bibleman. The comic book version has crude art based on the work of bizarre Golden Age comic artist Fletcher Hanks.
    • Frank's childish cartoon drawings are a motif. The credit sequence is based on his style.
  • Superhero Packing Heat: Averted at first, but the heroes load up for the final battle.
  • Super Zeroes: The story makes it pretty clear that Frank's actions as a superhero are the result of an unhinged mind first, a man looking for something to do after losing the woman he loved second and a man looking to do good a pretty close third.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome:
    • One of the funniest and most gruesome things about the movie is how realistically injuries are portrayed. People go down screaming after one hit from a wrench, a glass vase broken over someone's head leaves broken shards in his face and him concussed on the ground, and that's just what the heroes do.
    • Also, saving the Damsel in Distress/Love Interest doesn't mean you get your Happily Ever After with her.
    • At the end of the dance number in the opening credits, all the characters are visibly winded.
  • Surrounded by Idiots: Abe, Jacques' lead henchman, must feel like this with the two other mooks that follow him.
  • There Is No Kill like Overkill: An extremely disturbing example occurs at the end when Frank starts to massacre Jacques' gang; he stabs a guy to death after setting him on fire, he blows three guys away with a pipe bomb, blasts two clearly dead bodies with a shotgun, blasts a guy who lost his arms in the pipe bomb attack and was begging not to be killed, headshots a gangster in the house, smashes the back of Michael Rooker's head into jelly on the corner of a fireplace foundation, and stabs Jacques over and over until the screen fades to red.
  • Thou Shalt Not Kill:
    • Inverted by Frank, and even more-so by Boltie.
    • However, a downplayed variation of this trope does show up in that Frank did object to Boltie trying to kill the keying guy. It's not clear whether it was the severity of the crime (or lack thereof), the fact that Boltie didn't seem sure they had the right guy or this trope that was the cause.
    • That said, the guys he was fine with killing (by himself or Boltie) were part of Jacques' drug ring. So, either it was because those guys were more dangerous, or it may be a case of It's Personal.
  • Through the Eyes of Madness: It's left unclear if Frank actually heard God's voice and received visions from him, or is just mentally ill. The latter is quite possible given his unhinged behavior, and even he's unsure at one point if he's really hearing God's voice or just in his mind.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Frank goes from barely being able to take on one Mook, to slaughtering an entire security team.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Abe, Jacques's lead henchman, is often seen munching on Good 'n' Plenty.
  • Tragic Hero: Frank is a troubled loser who resorts to beating up "criminals" on the street to cope with losing his wife.
  • Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Sarah is a beautiful yet fragile recovering drug addict who uses Frank as a source of stability. Frank is a loser fry cook who bemoans his "ugly face."
  • Villain Ball: If Jacques had just shot Frank/The Crimson Bolt in the head, or another vital organ, or anywhere but repeatedly through the arm, he wouldn't have gotten stabbed by him.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Jacques goes from being self-assured and affable to practically frothing at the mouth when The Crimson Bolt's presence scares off his client.
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot: After Libby rapes Frank, we see him throw up into a toilet. Then we see inside the toilet.
  • We Have to Get the Bullet Out!: Defied. Libby is altogether too eager to start digging around in Frank's leg with a knife, but he stops her, saying it was a through-and-through.
  • Waif-Fu: Deconstructed. Libby's build has her struggling with the bulky body armor and the only hand-to-hand fight, not surprisingly, has her thrown against a wall pretty quickly. Her demonstration in her apartment of her acrobatic fighting style is pure What the Fu Are You Doing?.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: After the police officer gets murdered in Frank's house, it's never brought up or referenced to again in any way after that. They did say they were getting rid of the body, however.
  • What the Fu Are You Doing?: Libby tries to sell her combat prowess by rolling around the floor and throwing wild strikes in every direction like an overactive child.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Frank gives one of these to Libby after she almost kills a guy for (maybe) keying her friend's car.
  • Wolverine Claws: Boltie's preferred weapons. Also doubles as Actor Allusion since her actor is part of the X-Men Film Series.
  • Would Hit a Girl: When fighting crime, Frank tolerates no one.
  • Wrench Whack: Crimson Bolt's weapon. Played realistically — people hit with it don't come out looking pretty, one even getting a cracked skull on-screen.


Don't butt.

Butt in line and you'll get a wrench to the head.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (6 votes)

Example of:

Main / DisproportionateRetribution

Media sources: