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Film / Thunder Force (2021)

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Thunder Force is a 2021 superhero action comedy released on Netflix and directed by Ben Falcone, starring Melissa McCarthy and Octavia Spencer.

Lydia (McCarthy) and her estranged best friend Emily (Spencer) wanted to be superheroes growing up, but the way people gained powers ensured that only sociopaths gained them. As they got older, they had to give up on those dreams... until Emily invented a serum to give people Super-Strength. After Lydia takes it by accident, the two become Thunder Force, a crime-fighting duo facing down the legions of super-powered criminals plaguing their city.

Has nothing to do with Technosoft and Sega's Shoot 'Em Up video game franchise of the same name.

Thunder Force contains examples of:

  • Acrofatic: Lydia and Emily. They're big, but they can certainly fight.
  • Alcohol-Induced Idiocy: The plot is kicked off by Lydia drunkenly visiting Emily to try and get her to come to high school reunion. Still drinking while there, Lydia enters her lab and sits in a chair that administers the serum Emily developed to give someone super strength.
  • Animal-Themed Superbeing: The Crab, a self-proclaimed "half-creant" that developed his powers in a separate event from everyone else during a scuba dive over a radioactive coral reef, where he got bitten by a crab and developed a crab mutation. At the very least he's got crab claws for arms, a tendency to walk sideways and a taste for raw chicken.
  • Big Bad: The King is behind most of the Miscreant activity in the city and is plotting to attain political power first by being elected mayor and then eventually becoming president.
  • Bad Boss: The King has no qualms about killing his own henchmen. He even openly discusses who to kill next within earshot of them.
  • Bizarre Taste in Food: A side effect of Lydia's empowering is a nutritional need for raw chicken, which she quickly develops a taste for, grossing out everyone unfortunate enough to end up witnessing her wolf it down.
  • Bully Hunter: Lydia and Emily's first meeting involves the former defending the latter from bullies picking on her for being bookish.
  • Corrupt Politician: The King will do anything in his power to keep Chicago in the palm of his hand.
  • Co-Dragons: The Laser is the King's main enforcer while the Crab is kinda like his consigliere.
  • Commonality Connection: One of the things that really clicks between Lydia and the Crab on their date is that they both have a taste for raw chicken cutlets.
  • Crapsack World: The events of the film are the first time superheroes have ever existed. Superpowers have been around for a while, but exclusively ended up with people predisposed to sociopathic behavior.
  • Dating Catwoman: On their first outing with superpowers, thwarting a Miscreant named the Crab whose shaking down a convenience store for a protection free, Lydia immediately makes some kind of connection with him. Later she follows up on it and actually takes him on a date.
  • Death by Cameo: Ben Falcone plays Kenny, one of the King's henchmen, who is killed when he knocks a rock into his face during his Villainous Breakdown.
  • Differently Powered Individual: Superhuman criminals are referred to as "Miscreants" instead of supervillains, while superheroes haven't really ever existed before until Emily perfected her work. The Crab also refers to himself as a "half-creant", because he didn't get his powers in the same event as everyone else but at a later date.
  • Disney Death: In the climax, after Lydia and Emily defeat the King, Laser, and their men with help from the Crab and Tracy, Lydia seemingly sacrifices herself by taking the bomb with her before it explodes in the river, with no time to defuse it. Moments later, she regains consciousness after throwing up a ton of water.
  • Disney Villain Death: Averted. The King has been thrown off from the tower by the end of the fight, but Rachel revealed that he did survive the fall and that he was placed under arrest for his crimes instead.
  • Don't Make Me Destroy You: Following the Thou Shalt Not Kill mentality on superheroes, Lydia tells Laser a variation of the trope during her confrontation with her at a diner.
  • Foreshadowing: Before Laser attacked the diner, Allie coincidentally went to the restroom to before the unfolding chaos. It is revealed in the climax that she is actually The Mole to The King in order to take down Lydia and Emily without compromising her own position.
  • Finishing Move: The King likes killing people with a bearhug and he even tells Lydia this once he locks his arms around her.
  • Flawed Prototype: Emily has a prototype taser, unfortunately not all the kinks were worked out. If used at max power, the taser won't shut off and it'll quickly start frying the victim. Emily ends up unintentionally burning one of the Crab's goons with the taser and it's caught on camera.
  • Good Thing You Can Heal: The Crab gets his claws crushed in the climax by the King, but afterwards they're shown growing back, much like a real crab.
  • Heel–Face Turn: In the final showdown, the Crab ends up betraying the King and helps Lydia take him down.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Lydia and Emily for most of their childhood, and again when they reconnect in their adulthood. So much so that Emily's grandmother bought a wedding cake topper of an interracial lesbian couple hoping they'd one day come out to her.
  • Insistent Terminology: Emily isn't a nerd, she's just smart, there's a difference.
  • Invisibility: Lydia got the superstrength, but the project was going to be a package deal. Emily still had the other component of the project, a pill regimen that'll grant invisibility. Emily has good control over the power but she'll sometimes turn invisible when stressed out.
  • Mass Super-Empowering Event: At some point in the past, a radiation burst from space unlocked the genetic potential for superpowers on a global scale. Unfortunately, said potential was entirely correlated with a predisposition for antisocial, sociopathic behavior, solely empowering the portion of the population that would use their new powers for crime.
  • No Plans, No Prototype, No Backup: Emily has exactly one dose of the super strength serum. Lydia takes it by accident when she sits in the lab chair.
  • Overly-Long Gag: A lot of the jokes drag on for longer than they probably should, like Lydia's imitation of Steve Urkel.
  • Pragmatic Villainy: Crab is all for villainy, but being a supervillain does not mean you should go around killing your men. Or at the very least your most competent men on a whim. Telling off The King at least twice when he kills two of his best minions in anger.
  • Psycho Electro: The miscreant known as Laser can fire electrical blasts and is both short-tempered and trigger happy.
  • Psychopathic Manchild: The two main Miscreant villains of the story, Laser and the King, are prone to childish outbursts along with sadistic behavior.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: The telltale sign that the King is a miscreant is that his eyes glow red when he gets worked up.
  • Rich Genius: Emily owns her own tech company and is the main inventor along with her daughter. They're so rich that they can have their headquarters downtown and go patrolling in a top of the line sports car.
  • Running Gag: Every time the Crab is described as a "half-creant" (he's an Anti-Villain with a conscience, and his powers are from a different source), someone mishears it as his being half Korean.
  • The Sociopath: The only ones that gained powers were people genetically predisposed to being sociopaths.
  • Self-Made Superpowers: Emily took up her parents' goal of inventing a way to give ordinary people superpowers after their untimely deaths. She developed separate treatments to give people Super-Strength and Invisibility, intending both for herself before Lydia came along. Emily's daughter Tracy secretly gave herself Super-Speed to help both her mom and Lydia.
  • Super-Strength: Lydia is strong enough to throw a bus halfway across the city. It causes a lot of unintended damage when it lands. The King also has super strength enough to fight her.
  • Spell My Name with a "The": It's The King, not King. Also applies to the Crab.
  • Tractor Beam: Laser was able to render Lydia helpless by dragging her into the air with her energy beam.

Alternative Title(s): Thunder Force