Debate Club: Best superhero spoofs

Debate Club: Top 5 superhero spoofs

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May 30, 2018, 11:00 AM EDT

Welcome to Debate Club, where Tim Grierson and Will Leitch, the hosts of the Grierson & Leitch podcast, tackle the greatest arguments in pop culture.

In this week’s installment, in honor SYFY WIRE's upcoming comedy month, we look at the best superhero spoofs.

It's only recently that superhero movies, buoyed we suspect by Guardians and their Galaxy, had much of a sense of humor about themselves: the weighty business of saving the world didn't leave much time for yuks. But even with the superheroes now self-aware, there's enough self-seriousness still to have a ton of fun at their expense.

Thus, here are our five funniest superhero spoofs.


Blankman (1994)

Before he was doing somber adult dramas like The Upside of Anger and Reign Over Me, director Mike Binder teamed up with In Living Color star Damon Wayans for this juvenile takedown of superhero films. Wayans plays Darryl, a comic-book nerd who decides to become a crime fighter after the mob takes over his urban metropolis. Blankman isn't very inspired, but it does offer the fleeting pleasures of watching Wayans and his In Loving Color cohort David Alan Grier mix it up on the big screen. But be warned: what you have in store is mostly Wayans (who co-wrote the script) talking in that affected, effeminate joke voice of his.


Orgazmo (1997)

It has somehow been 21 years since Trey Parker and Matt Stone decided it would be a good idea to make a movie about a Mormon missionary who somehow becomes a porn star and a superhero... and ended up getting an NC-17 out of it! Seen today, the movie's rating seems all the more absurd because the movie is so over-the-top and silly. (And it doesn’t even have much nudity!) Parker's main character is a fun superhero mockery because, well, he's just as corny and innocent-dopey as Superman, an aw-shucks Mormon who never quite seems to understand all the filth around him. This wasn't the best Mormon riff Stone and Parker would ever do, but it's still a gross, crude hoot.

Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie

Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie (2017)

Based on Dav Pilkey’s kids' books, Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie was released at the height of Marvel mania, offering a sweetly low-key alternative to all the Avengers' high-octane adventures. This animated lark featured Kevin Hart and Thomas Middleditch as grade-school geeks obsessed with comic books who create their own crime fighter, whom they name Captain Underpants. But once their mean principal (Ed Helms) tries to put them into separate classrooms, they rise up and rebel, hypnotizing the man into thinking he's their silly superhero. Captain Underpants is easily the goofiest action movie in recent times, and it's clearly geared to tots. (As an example, the bad guy's name is Professor Pee-Pee Diarrheastein Poopypants Esq.) But in a world of oh-so-serious superhero flicks, the gentle geniality of Captain Underpants is a welcome relief. Tra-la-la!

Mystery Men

Mystery Men (1999)

The premise of Mystery Men is such a good one that Deadpool 2 was ripping it off just this month: superheroes with no real actual power still trying to do superhero things. What are the powers of the Mystery Men? One person is angry... really angry. One person shovels. One person has a bowling ball. One person is named The Spleen. Just because they want to be superheroes doesn't mean they are, but it's always a blast watching them try. This movie wasn't the hit it should have been, which is a shame: the list of non-superhero powers, well, it's downright infinite.

The LEGO Batman Movie

The LEGO Batman Movie (2017)

Will Arnett's super-egotistical Dark Knight was one of the highlights of 2014's The LEGO Movie, so it made sense that he'd get his own spinoff film. The LEGO Batman Movie isn't as consistently hilarious as its predecessor, but it's laser-focused in its satire of superhero films — particularly every iteration of Batman's big-screen legacy. Everything from Adam West to Batman v Superman gets skewered, as Arnett reprises his comically dark/growly Christian Bale impression for maximum chuckles.

Beyond taking down the Caped Crusader, though, The LEGO Batman Movie is a spot-on debunking of the fashionable brooding despair that's passed for emotional complexity and storytelling sophistication in recent years. From the movie's first few seconds, where Arnett explains how a film's opening credits need to be ominous to be cool, this slick, propulsive animated treat both caters to and mocks its audience, gleefully rifling through blockbuster clichés a mile a minute. How can you not love a Batman movie in which the Joker actually cries? 


Grierson & Leitch write about the movies regularly and host a podcast on film. Follow them on Twitter or visit their site.