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Film / The Specials

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We're there for the oddball, the rebel, the outcast, the geek!
This is the story of the Specials...
...The 6th or 7th greatest superhero team in the world.
They have spent many a day fighting natural disasters and battling supervillains.
This is not one of those days.

The Specials is a 2000 superhero parody film written by James Gunn and directed by Craig Mazin.

Centered on the sixth or seventh greatest superhero team in the world, the film follows the events of several days during which no major world-shaking events occur, instead focusing on the various team members' lives. During the course of the film, a new member joins the team, a line of toys based on the Specials is unveiled, and long-festering conflicts within the team come to a head.

This film contains examples of:

  • Achilles' Heel: Ms. Indestructible's eyes are not as tough as the rest of her.
  • Adaptation Decay: The line of action figures in the movie.
  • All Lesbians Want Kids: Power Chick's mothering of Alien Orphan.
  • All Love Is Unrequited: Minute Man says this is one of the team's rules. He proves himself wrong when he hooks up with Deadly Girl, finally returning her feelings for him.
    • The Strobe and Ms. Indestructible are married and were in love once, but Ms. Indestructible feels alienated by the time the film starts and has an affair with Weevil, whose love, or lust, for her was otherwise unrequited.
    • Deadly Girl has an unrequited love for Minute Man, who develops a crush of his own on the new girl, Night Bird. He eventually does return Deadly Girl's feelings and they hook up.
    • Amok has unsuccessfully hit on every girl in the Specials. But then, one of them is married, one is gay, and one is in love with Minute Man. That only leaves new girl Night Bird.
  • Ascended Fanboy: Nightbird was a huge fan of the team before she joined.
  • Atlas Pose: U.S. Bill in the "Who Are the Specials?" mockumentary
  • Badass Normal: Mr. Smart's only super power is being the world's smartest man.
  • Bad Powers, Bad People: Averted by Deadly Girl, who uses her creepy powers for good; invoked and averted by Amok, who is a former villain with suitably villainous powers, but is now a hero.
  • Break the Cutie: Nearly happens to Nightbird, but is averted.
  • Berserk Button
    • Minute Man is somewhat sensitive to the proper pronunciation of his codename. He is "My-NEWT" Man, as in shrinking, not "MIH-Nitt" Man, as in sixty seconds.
    • Likewise, please don't try to remove US Bill's mask. He's rather sensitive about keeping his identity secret. In fact, just the sight of his own reflection without some kind of costume on makes him start to cry.
  • Butch Lesbian: Power Chick. She was even on the cover of Out magazine. Somehow Amok managed to miss this, so she has to tell him.
  • The Cape: The Strobe tries to keep up this kind of image. A lot of the rest of the Specials have gotten tired of his "self-righteousness".
  • Chekhov's Gun: Deadly Girl specifically mentions that Ms. Indestructible's power is indestructible skin, and that anyone who wanted to really hurt her should go for her eyes. When Deadly finds out that Ms. Indestructible is cheating on The Strobe, she sucker-punches Ms. Indestructible in the right eye.
  • Civvie Spandex: Most of the Specials wear costumes made from the kinds of items you can find in a costume or fabric store. Well, where else would you get a costume?
  • Chest Insignia
    • The Strobe has a lightning bolt. His wife, Ms Indestructible, has two smaller lightning bolts closer to her shoulders.
    • U.S. Bill has a number 1 in the centre of a shield.
    • The Weevil wears The Specials logo.
    • Eight wears the roman numeral, VIII, on all of his chests.
  • Coconut Superpowers: The characters' powers are more discussed than demonstrated, although the V-Formation Team Shot at the very end (see the photo above) shows some of them in use.
  • Code Name: The Strobe, Ms Indestructible, Minute Man, Deadly Girl, Amok, Power Chick, U.S. Bill, Night Bird, and so on.
  • Comes Great Responsibility: The Strobe lectures on this at the first meeting.
  • Cut His Heart Out with a Spoon: Inverted. The Strobe actually threatens to kill first, then mutilate the body. "If I wanted to, I could cut your head off, and then do some intricate welding and slicing with your guts!"
  • Dark Is Not Evil: Amok is a reformed super-villain with blue skin and a nineties-style black leather coat and pants costume. Deadly Girl summons demons and teleports through the netherworld. While they both aren't the nicest folks, neither of them are evil.
  • Day in the Life: Though not a completely routine day, there are no world saving heroics going on.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Deadly Girl
  • Death by Origin Story: Stretchie Boy's demise in "Who Are the Specials?" Apparently, the North-Western states of the US, specifically in Takoma, have the right kind of flouridation that stretching powers are one of the most common superpowers. Unfortunately, rubber-bodied superheroes are extremely susceptible to mouth cancer. The rubber-bodied heroes of the Specials, in order, were:
    • Stretchie Boy...who died of mouth-cancer,
    • Captain Elastic...who died of mouth-cancer,
    • Flagpole Lad...who died of mouth-cancer,
    • And Gooey Stan...who died of mouth-cancer.
  • Dumb Muscle: U.S. Bill — who is not just dumb, but clearly mentally disabled.
  • Expy:
    • Amok is obviously one of Guy Gardner, and visually of Nightcrawler. His powers and ex-villain background also make him one for Gambit. In retrospect, their abrasive Jerk with a Heart of Gold attitude can seem like a rough draft of Rocket Raccoon or Yondu, given the director.
    • Alien Orphan is somewhat one of Martian Manhunter.
    • Deadly Girl is Lady Death in terms of her powers.
    • Minute Man's lack of self-confidence due to his shrinking powers is based on The Atom. The jokes about how the orange shirt that is part of his costume makes him look gay is a nod to Aquaman.
    • Mr. Smart, like Mister Terrific, doesn't have any power but being smart.
    • Power Chick has the same powers as Amazing-Man and Grunge from Gen¹³.
    • Stretchy Boy seems to be modeled on The Elongated Man.
    • The Strobe is clearly based on Cyclops from X-Men, with his laser-powers and pompous attitude.
    • U.S. Bill may be a nod to Dollar Bill from Watchmen.
    • The Weevil is Spider-Man, having "Weevil agility", and an insect theme and a friendly, wise-cracking attitude.
    • Zip Boy is The Flash.
  • Hand Blast: The Mighty Strobe has this. Amok has something similar, except his is a whole body field that sometimes comes on during sex.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Albeit offscreen and in the Back Story: Amok was a villain before joining the Specials.
  • Informed Ability: We never see most of the team's powers, and even the Team Shot at the end suggests more than displays them.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Amok is a lewd, crude jerk, but in the end he is one of the most vocal proponents of keeping the team together.
  • Non Sequitur: The Strobe storms out of the Specials toy-line launch-party, seeming furious. So it's somewhat understandable that, when the Weevil tries to stop him, he implies that he could kill Weevil if he wanted to. But then he starts talking about "do some intricate welding and slicing with your guts." No-one else knows that Zip-Boy has been trying to recruit him to work as a human replacement for expensive laser machinery.
  • Noodle Incident: The movie is full of these; the Pterodactyls, the anal slugs (it's a pretty good one), the Colossal Blister, Amok and the Scabies (not Scurvy) incident, and why Deadly Girl's action figure is not available in Vermont.
  • Perky Goth: Mostly averted. Deadly Girl is only seen to be perky when she's insulting someone, or after her tryst with Minute Man.
  • Poke the Poodle: Back in his days as a villain, Amok's big evil plan was to give people scabies (and not scurvy, as previously thought).
  • Precision F-Strike: "But in the meantime, get off my fucking lawn, whore."
  • Pronouncing My Name for You: Minute Man needs to repeatedly point out that his codename is pronounced "My-NEWT man", as in tiny, not "MIH-nitt man," as in sixty seconds.
  • The Reveal: After dancing around it for almost the entire movie, Nightbird's power is finally revealed minutes before the end of the movie.
  • Secret Identity: Played straight by U.S. Bill to the point of parody.
  • Shapeshifter Longevity: Subverted; due to fluoridation of the water in Tacoma and other states in the American northwest, it's common for superheroes from this region to sport shapeshifting Rubber Man powers, as was the case with Stretchie Boy... but unfortunately, the same chemicals that give them their powers are also highly carcinogenic, so rubbery super-heroes don't live very long - to the point that Stretchie Boy himself was dead within six months of joining the team.
  • Something Person: Deadly Girl, Minute Man, Power Chick, Zip Boy.
  • Spontaneous Choreography: The dance on stage at the club.
  • Straw Feminist: Sunshine Grrrll and presumably the other seven members of the Femme Five, but notably not Deadly Girl, who they try to recruit:
    Sunlight Grrrll: The Femme Five. I'm here to ask you to join.
    Deadly Girl: Well, then you'd be the Femme Six.
    Sunlight Grrrll: There are already eight of us. Traditional counting is an oppressive patriarchal tool.