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What Is Blankman? A Closer Look at Twisted Metal's Superhero Parody Easter Egg

Here's a movie you probably never thought you'd hear about in the Twisted Metal show.

By Matthew Jackson
A shot from Twisted Metal featuring Anthony Mackie and Stephanie Beatriz

In the world of Twisted Metal, the apocalypse happened in the early 2000s, leaving the whole show frozen in a very specific time and place. That means there's room for lots of millennial Easter eggs, but there are some that even experts in a bygone age might never have seen coming.

For instance, in Episode 4 of the new Peacock original series, based on the PlayStation game franchise of the same name, John (Anthony Mackie) and Quiet (Stephanie Beatriz), ditch some pursuers by hiding out in an abandoned movie theater. Inside, it's packed with reminders of what going to the movies was like at the turn of the millennium, including a poster for the Heath Ledger classic A Knight's Tale, and even a standee for Dana Carvey's The Master of Disguise. When John and Quiet head into one of the auditoriums to put on a movie, though, John pulls out an "absolute classic" that few people really remember: Blankman.

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So...what is Blankman? Released in 1994, it's one of the wave of comedy films that came out of the Wayans Family's success with In Living Color, and like so many of the Wayans Family projects of that era, it's a parody. Specifically this time around, Damon Wayans (who both stars in and co-wrote the film) is trying his hand at superhero movie parodies at a time before superhero movies had completely saturated the market. In the film, Wayans plays Darryl, a nerdy repairman by day who's obsessed with the Batman TV show from the 1960s. When a crime wave gets to be too much for him, Darryl decides to take a page out of Batman's book and become a costumed vigilante, adopting a homemade suit and the name "Blankman," much to the chagrin of his more realistic brother, Kevin (David Alan Grier). 

As the film's Twisted Metal cameo shows, Blankman was outright parodic, diving headlong into the conventions of the superhero genre with its tongue firmly in cheek. The chief gimmick of the film, apart from Wayans' nerdy performance, was Blankman's ability to spray any piece of clothing with a substance he'd devised and make it bulletproof, and the film spent a lot of time delving into various other nerdy inventions and certain superhero cliches. It didn't go over well. The film was a box office flop, and ended up on some Worst Of lists back in 1994.

So, if you haven't heard of Blankman before, don't be ashamed, but also don't be surprised if you want to head out and see the movie for yourself at this point. In some ways it was strangely ahead of its time, and as John proves in the show, it does still have its defenders.

Twisted Metal is now streaming on Peacock.