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Film / The Meteor Man

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The Meteor Man is a 1993 Superhero movie, starring Robert Townsend alongside an Ensemble Cast ranging from well known black actors and comedians such as Marla Gibbs, James Earl Jones, Robert Guillaume, Sinbad and even Bill Cosby himself, to up-and-coming black actors such as Don Cheadle, Tom Lister Jr. and Eddie Griffin. Townsend also wrote and directed it, just as he did with his previous film, The Five Heartbeats. Although neither film fared very well at the box office, they both are considered cult classics to African-American viewers, like most of his work.

Jefferson Reed is a mild-mannered schoolteacher in a neighborhood terrorized by gang activity. Jeff tries to help a woman who is being mugged by two kids who are apparently trying to get into the Golden Lords, the most powerful of the local criminal gangs and which has member groups even amongst toddlers (termed "Baby Lords"). The woman flees but the entire gang shows up and proceeds to chase Jeff. He hides in a dumpster for hours. After leaving the dumpster, he spots a falling meteor and tries to run away. But his life is changed dramatically when he awakes in the hospital and realizes the effects of the meteor gave him a number of different superpowers. He decides to don a superhero identity, Meteor Man, and to use his powers to fight crime.

This film provides examples of:

  • Acrophobic Bird: Meteor Man never flies more than a few feet from the ground due to his fear of heights.
  • As Himself:
    • Naughty By Nature, Cypress Hill and Another Bad Creation are credited as themselves. However each member is also individually credited as a member of gang their in during the movie. Naughty By Nature's members are credited as Bloods, Cypress Hill are Crips, and ABC are Lords. This may be relative to the actual gangs they all belong to, but it is unclear.
  • Badass Adorable: Although the older guys are pretty scary and one of them even has a pet tiger, the Baby Lords are ready for war and were the last gang members to retreat at the end of the movie. Also, they dress more like high-ranking mobsters than low-level street punks.
  • Beta Outfit: Jefferson tries a number of outfits before settling on a superheroic variation of Space Clothes. One of the early outfits had a Polaroid camera on he shoulder to catch bad guys in the act.
  • Big Damn Heroes: The entire ghetto comes out to help Meteor Man fight the Big Bad.
    • The Crips and the Bloods (who Meteor Man befriended earlier) show up on the rooftops, armed with rifles, when Byers threatens Jeff at the end. Byers is forced to back down when he realizes that however powerful his organization is, at that moment he does not have as much power as the dozens of guys with rifles lining the rooftops.
      • Subverted big time with Michael; when a powerless Jefferson was forced to fight Simon, there was some intense build up to make you assume the trope would be played straight. It ultimately ended in Epic Fail for him.
  • Bullet Catch: Made easy with Super-Speed, but this was done when the power was weakening.
  • Canon Welding: The sequel comic is set in the Marvel Universe.
  • Child Soldiers: It seems as if the bulk of the Golden Lords are kids. They even name them according to age (i.e. Junior Lords and Baby Lords. They don't kill anyone, however due to the PG rating ( nobody dies, so the adult Lords don't kill anyone either.) They all seem very eager to kill though, especially the Baby Lords.
  • Combo Platter Powers: The meteor gives anyone that touches it a very diverse set of powers, including: Flight, Healing Factor, Healing Hands, Ingesting Knowledge, Speaks Fluent Animal, Super-Speed, Super-Strength, Telekinesis, Telepathy and X-Ray Vision.
  • Comic-Book Adaptation: Bert Hubbard and Dwight Coye wrote a six-issue series where Jeff meets Spider-Man and Night Thrasher.
  • Costume-Test Montage: When it comes time for Jefferson to embrace his powers and become a superhero, we are treated to a montage of various superhero looking costume that he tries on.
  • De-power: It turns out that the meteor powers are only temporary... or at least will fluctuate periodically over his career.
  • 11th-Hour Superpower: Played with. Meteor Man conquered his fear of heights, but only after the Big Bad threw him over a building.
  • Everyone Join the Party: At the end, when the last of the gangsters asks Jefferson to leave town, the entire community stands on nearby rooftops with their weapons ready to fire. This drives the rest of the criminals away.
  • Evil Is Not a Toy: A couple of kids are members of the Golden Lords, but they clearly weren't prepared for what gang life actually entails. They pull a Heel–Face Turn in the end.
  • Fashion Show: Parodied. Jefferson absorbs a book about kung fu by Bruce Lee, but scrambles to find it again when the knowledge wears off. Instead, he grabs a book about runway modeling, which the villain also touches. They even engage in a Cat Fight before the absorption wears off.
  • Funny Bruce Lee Noises: Used by Meteor Man and Simon Caine after they instantly absorb all the contents of one of Bruce Lee's fighting manuals.
  • Gang of Hats: All of the members of the Golden Lords dye their hair gold. Unlike most versions of the trope, this is most realistic type.
  • A God Am I: The Big Bad after he gains powers from the meteor and bests Meteor Man in battle.
  • Ingesting Knowledge: With the powers of the meteor, you can ingest all of the information in a book just from touching it, but can only retain the information for 30 seconds.
  • I Surrender, Suckers: The leader of the Golden Lords pulls this on Reed, pretending to be impressed by his courage only to sucker punch him when he comes in for a handshake.
  • Kick the Dog: Or rather, throw a dumpster on the dog!
  • Magic Meteor: Jefferson gets his superpowers from a meteor crashing on him.
  • Monochrome Casting: Pretty much everybody in this movie is black. Justified in that it's set in a Washington D.C. ghetto.
  • Mundane Utility: One scene has Jeff using his Ungesting Knowledge powers to grade his students' work faster.
  • No-Sell: Meteor Man vs the goon played by "Tiny" Lister. Both times he punches Meteor Man, he breaks his hand and Meteor Man is not even mussed.
  • Novelization: By Cliff Thompson. Features a large amount of material that was cut from the finished film that would have made the film more well-rounded, including a scene where Jeff overcomes his fear of heights.
  • Power Perversion Potential: Reed learns he has the power to see through clothing while recovering at the hospital. His first impulse is to test this on his hot nurse. Unfortunately for him, said hot nurse isn't on duty.
  • "Reason You Suck" Speech: Jefferson chews out the whole community when he learns that they're going to surrender to the Golden Lords after he starts losing his powers, saying that they had no right to say that he hadn't done enough when nobody else had done anything. This shames the ghetto into helping him out in the final battle.
  • Shout-Out: The leader of the Golden Lords says, while discussing the cities under their control to the other high-ranking members, that their next move will be to take over New York. Then he says "if I can make it there, I can make it anywhere." Which is a line from the song "New York, New York".
  • Something Person: Meteor + Man.
  • Suddenly Fluent in Gibberish: When Jefferson casually asks Max what he wants to eat, he is surprised by the reply.
  • Super-Speed Reading: Jeff can know the contents of a book by touching it.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Yeah Michael, impersonate Meteor Man, then make an announcement on the radio that you'll show up at a public area. With the Golden Lords listening in. Just because you wanted to meet a news reporter that you like. Lucky Jeff was there to save your ass.
    • Did Digit honestly believe he'd stand a chance fighting Meteor Man again, despite the last fight resulting in him getting a broken arm?
  • Totalitarian Gangsterism: The Golden Lords are outrageously ruthless and rule over the neighborhood with a gold-laced cast-iron fist. The appearance of a superhero in town almost instantly leads them to try to massacre a town meeting just to give Meteor Man a message: "you can't be everywhere."
  • Underwear of Power: Meteor Man wears something akin to a black speedo on the outside of his costume.