Are you kidding me? Seriously? A reality show that features people…ADULTS…that want to have their childhood dreams of becoming a superhero fulfilled? Well, sign me up! I know that the FoRT doesn’t usually require special qualifications from a writer in order to recap a particular show, but when I heard that this show was finally (for those of you that don’t know, this show was originally supposed to air almost 3 years ago!) going to air, I sent John my resume right away. What are my qualifications? Well, first of all, there’s my avatar. Yeah, I’m a huge Superman fan, as well as a big Batman fan (Batman Begins? Best movie of 2005) and Spider-man fan. Heck, I like all the superheros. Secondly, as a child I had all of the superhero Underoos. My mom even tried to buy me Wonder Woman Underoos…but I wasn’t that hardcore. Thirdly…and this is a big one…I almost fulfilled my desire to become a “superhero” once…complete with secret identity and all. You see, I used to rock climb, and once, when I was drinking heavily with some friends, I came up with a plan to get really good at climbing and then don a homemade Spider-man costume. My plan was to become a local phenomenon. “Yeah, there’s this guy I always see when I’m climbing. He wears a Spider-man costume, and he’s a really great climber. Who the hell is he anyway?” They might have even done a newspaper article on me. I coulda been huge. Alas, I drank too much beer and watched too much TV and my dream never came to fruition. But hey, now I have Stan Lee’s Who Wants To Be A Superhero?
The Back Story
Every great superhero, supervillain, and reality TV show has to have a backstory. It’s the only way we can relate to the characters and their situations. WWTBAS is no different. As far as the show goes, Stan Lee came up with the idea years ago to have people create their own unique superheroes…complete with special powers and back story…and have each person prove their hero’s worth through special tasks and challenges. Eventually, one hero will rise above all the rest and be immortalized with their own comic book and even a movie special on the SciFi Channel.
That’s right…Stan Lee, the creator of such famous heroes as Spider-man, The Hulk, The X-Men, and The Fantastic Four. He’s a veritable powerhouse in the comic book world and the creator of Marvel Comics. Yeah, that’s different than DC Comics…the publishers of Superman and Batman to name a couple of their properties. These 2 companies face off every month and every summer with blockbuster comics and movies. Anyway, Mr. Lee is not only the creator of the show, but he also acts as host and supreme judge. He does it all from a secret lair of his own via video screen, like some criminal mastermind. Except he’s a good guy. And too weak and frail to actually hurt anyone. But I digress.
Like I said earlier, every superhero needs a back story…an origin, and these folks are no exception. Stan Lee had to wade through literally thousands of costumed freaks and geeks to find 11 heroes worthy of his guidance. It was no easy task. Some of the rejected zeroes…er, heroes? Insane Man-a guy dressed like he’s homeless and screeching at Stan Lee; Hummus Man, who has to eat a lot of hummus or he’ll lose his powers; Topless Girl, who has martial arts skills, but chooses to fight topless to distract her opponents (I think she got a rise out of Stan, at least); and Marine Man, who dressed in bright orange “camouflage” and constantly screamed “Ourah!” at Stan. While these were all skills that could be desirable to someone, none of them had any traits that Stan the man was looking for.
After seeing all of the heroes that America had to offer, Stan whittled the contestants down to 11 would be comic book stars and whisked them all away in a secret transport (read: limo) to a top secret location for their introductions and “strike-a-pose” glamour shots (read: dorky poses that will be turned into freeze frame comic book art). They are:
Levity-AKA Tobias Trost, a 32 year old animator/toy designer. Levity’s super powers include controlling air molecules to create force fields and shooting blasts of air that can penetrate concrete! He is vunerable when there is no air around or he is caught in a vacuum. He got his powers when he was caught in the eruption of Mt. St. Helens, and he fights for minorities and people who are different, since he has always been an outcast himself.
Creature-AKA Tonya Kay, a 25 year old auto mechanic and raw foodist. That’s right, she only eats foods that are raw. Her powers include the ability to heal others with raw foods, shooting fire beams, throwing knives with great precision, and wielding a magical whip. Is that like a miracle whip, but raw? She loses her power if her hair is cut, and she is also vulnerable to gumballs. Wait…gumballs aren’t raw foods! She fights for justice and good health for humanity.
Major Victory-AKA Chris Watters, a DJ and former exotic dancer who is 38 years old. Age is not an issue for any of these folks, is it? His super powers include super strength, the ability to levitate, and the ability to manipulate sound waves to create noises or throw his voice. Isn’t that called ventriloquism? His vulnerabilities are that he is deaf in one ear and he is lactose intolerant. I love that! Throw some milk on this guy and he’s finished! He got his powers from an accidental explosion at a speaker testing facility, likely when someone played Quiet Riot’s “Cum On Feel The Noize” on the speaker that goes to eleven, and he fights for the benefit of all mankind.
The Iron Enforcer-AKA Steel Chambers. Now that is one hard ass name! I wonder if it’s real? Probably not. Steel is a 35 year old bodyguard from New York who doesn’t take crap from anyone…especially guys in tights who laugh hysterically after they ask if his high tech gun/weapon can caulk a bathroom. He is super because he has the densest bone structure of any human, he wields high tech weapons (and caulk guns! Heeeee!), and has a mind blowing death punch that only The Hulk can withstand. His vulnerabilities are that he only lives for 5 years and he is afraid of flying.
Monkey Woman-AKA Mary Votava, a 28 year old real estate investor whose super power lies in her high tech gadgets and weapons that are disguised as bananas. She’s also really good at climbing trees, as you’ll find out soon enough. She is weakened by calliope music, as apparently all monkeys are, and fights for children everywhere and the chance to find her mother who was taken from her by an evil zookeeper when she was young. I’ll let you insert your own monkey slap joke here. She also makes very realistic monkey screeches, which all the guys seem to like for some odd reason.
Fat Momma-AKA Nell Wilson, a 42 year old single mother who was inspired by her three kids. Her plan? To rid the world of bullies one doughnut at a time. Peace…through doughnuts. Now you’re talking! Fat Momma’s power is that she grows to 5 times her normally large size when she’s angry. I’m betting her kids inspired that, too, since my mom always seemed like she grew at least 5 times bigger when I did bad things. She’s vulnerable to diet foods, though…they make her shrink to 5 inches tall.
Nitro G-AKA Darren Passarello, a 19 year old college student and comic book store employee. Nitro’s powers are super strength, super speed, flight, and the ability to manipulate energy. Wait a second…isn’t that Superman when he went through that crazy “electrical” phase? That’s not original at all! He is, however, also a poet and artist at heart. That’ll come in handy when he’s fighting crime…he can spout snappy haikus while he paints bad guys’ portraits. Zing!
Cell Phone Girl-AKA Chelsea Weld, an interior designer who is 22 years old. Her powers? Well, she can take digital photos with her eyes, use cell phone waves to move objects, and teleport from one active cell phone to another…so basically anywhere in the world since there’s always someone on a cell phone somewhere. She loses her power wherever cell signals are weak or non-existent…like everywhere I go! I could be her arch nemesis! You can call me “Drop Call”, or better yet, “Dead Zone”!
Feedback-AKA Matthew Atherton, a 34 year old software engineer. Feedback is a computer genius, and he can absorb powers and abilities from video games that he plays. However, power lines give him a headache, and microwaves give him nausea, so don’t heat up that chili dog if you ever see him in 7-11. He fights for justice and fair play.
Ty’Veculus-AKA E. Quincy Sloan, a 34 year old father of 3 and fire captain, so he at least has an inkling of what it takes to be a hero. Ty’s powers include resistance to fire, super strength, super speed, and the ability to always detect lies, because he only hears the truth. He becomes vulnerable around beauty or if he acts without integrity. He fights for the protection of all people, everywhere.
Lemuria-AKA Tonatzin Mondragon, a property manager that is 30 years old. Lemuria was actually chosen to be on the show by the SciFi.com members, who, given her appearance and large…assets, must be mostly men or boys. Her powers include the ability to hurl solar energy orbs, levitation, and to shoot lasers and fireballs. She is weakened by darkness and night, and fights for the global balance of power.
There is one final “character” introduced to us…his name is Rotiart, AKA Jonathan Finestone, a business owner who really reminds me of Comic Book Guy from The Simpsons. His powers seem to be that he listens really well. Why is he here?
Once the heroes have all been introduced to one another, they all raise a toast and start to mingle and dance. Uhhh…superheroes really shouldn’t dance. Didn’t you all learn your lesson when Batman did “The Batusi” on the old ‘70’s Batman TV serial? Let’s learn from our history, people!
To The, Er, Batcave!
Soon enough, Stan the man Lee pops up on a video screen in the impromptu dance hall…and he is furious! This is serious business, and the superheroes don’t seem to realize how important it is. Superheroes don’t act like rowdy ravers…well, unless it’s 1972 and you’re Batman and Robin.
It’s time for our heroes to head to their top secret lair. Stan gives them the address and swears them to commit it to memory only, since it’s so secret. He also provides them with an inconspicuous vehicle for them to be driven to the lair in. Inconspicuous if by that you mean huge and gawdy stretch Hummer. The Bupkis League piles into the Hummer and the driver heads toward their destination. As the heroes discuss whether their secret lair will be above or below ground, they start to notice that everywhere they look there’s barbed wire fences and homeless people on the street. This can’t be where they’re lair is, can it? Sure enough, the address that Stan Lee gave them shows up on the corrugated iron fence of a warehouse in the neighborhood. The gate opens, and all the heroes walk in to find a video screen with Stan Lee waiting for their arrival.
A Traitor In Our Midst
Mr. Lee assures them that they are at the right place, and the warehouse is their new headquarters. But before they can head inside, Stan tells them that one of them will not be allowed to enter. There happens to be a spy in the group, and he has been watching and listening to everyone as they arrived at the mansion. Mr. Lee wants to make sure everyone’s motives are pure before they go any further in the hero industry. The traitor? Rotiart…or traitor spelled backwards. He reveals that he is actually an employee of Mr. Lee’s, and he was sent to infiltrate the group and gather surveillance. He has been taping everyone since they arrived, and he has discovered three heroes with suspect character. First: Levity. His career as a toy seller and custom action figure creator point towards a profit motive. How sweet the juice could be if he were able to win the competition and create custom figures of himself. Second: Creature. Since she arrived she has been in party girl mode and flirting with the male heroes harder than a teenage boy at the Playboy Mansion. Third: The Iron Enforcer. He wields a giant gun and other weapons which he uses to kill his enemies. Superheroes don’t kill. Period.
The person who will not be entering the lair is….Levity. His dreams of huge profits end here. Heroes are supposed to be selfless, not out for personal gain. He is ordered to remove his costume and place it in a garbage can, which is quickly hit with a lightning bolt, burning the outfit.
Upward and Onward
The League of Ordinary Gentlepeople is guided through the warehouse to a condemned freight elevator in the back. Again, everyone is nervous that the elevator is broken, and they are all going to die when the car falls down the shaft. But they have enough faith in the producers to ride the elevator up to their new lair. When the lift stops, Ty’Veculus opens the door to reveal a secret lair fit for The Kingpin! It’s posh…there’s funky art on the walls, plush beds and bedding, and common areas with expensive furniture.
Stan, via a video screen shout out, calls them into the dining room where he has dinner and a pep talk waiting for them. He explains to them that this is not a contest about who can leap the highest, or deflect bullets, or even stop a speeding locomotive with their pinky. No, it’s about finding the qualities in each of them that are important on the inside…heart, courage, integrity, honesty, and intelligence. That’s what makes a real hero. He also hands out personal communicators to each hero…for when he needs to get in touch with them, and instructs them to wear their normal clothes when they wake up the next day. Finally, he gives them a team cheer…Excelsior!! Which is actually an old English expression meaning upward and onward to greater glory. Excelsior!
From Phone Booth To Porta-Potty
The next morning, the Batmo-Hummer transports the entire crew to a public square where Stan Lee is again waiting for them via video screen. This time, he’s in a normal looking van, and he’s explaining their first challenge to them. The challenge? Change from your normal clothes into your superhero outfit as quickly as you can without anyone seeing you, and run to a point in the public square designated by Mr. Lee. It’s kind of funny, because all of these hero hopefuls are carrying their outfits around with them in large duffel bags. I thought the really great heroes always wore their costumes underneath their regular clothes. Spidey always does. Anyway, it’s going to be really hard for some of these guys to be truly inconspicuous…I mean, The Iron Enforcer is always carrying this giant-but technologically advanced!-weapon with him.
First up is Feedback. Stan urges him on and he nonchalantly walks off to find a secret place to change his clothes in public. I truly hope that the producers let people know what was going on today, because there’s going to be a lot of bare butts and dorky looking costumes running around. Feedback finds a sunken area behind a wall to change into his costume, then books it to the designated finish line. He runs so fast, he doesn’t even see or hear the real point of this challenge…a little girl who is lost and looking for her mommy. Feedback is too focused on following his instructions to the letter.
Next up are Fat Momma, Ty’Veculus, and Cell Phone Girl (each shown in separate, comic book style frames). Ty finds some porta-potties, and instead of going inside one of them, he takes the time to pull one out from the wall so he can go behind them. All under the watchful eye of a security guard and a guy who is just leaving the porta-let. Cell Phone Girl thinks she is keeping totally hidden while she changes, even though there is a guy sitting on a ledge 10 feet from her, and other people just walking by the bush she was behind who can clearly see her. After she changes, she hauls butt toward the finish line and past the crying little girl. After she passes the girl, she stops, and comes back, though. She helps the girl out by taking her to the security office, and eventually proceeds to the finish line, smug in the fact that she helped someone over finishing her task quickly. Ty finally comes out from behind the bathroom, moves it back into place, and heads for the finish point. He gets there without acknowledging the girl, and is proud that he accomplished his objective quickly. Soon, Fat Momma is on the scene, running as fast as she can and losing doughnuts off of her “utility belt” with each stride. The mother in her takes over when she sees the girl, and she also helps her to the security office, and then gets to the finish line.
The next group of changelings are The Iron Enforcer, Lemuria, and Monkey Woman. Iron finds a stairwell to change in, while Monkey Woman climbs a tree!! Hilarious. Lemuria runs into the middle of the square and jumps into a trash can! What the hell is going on here? When she gets in the can, it falls over and she nearly does a face plant into the pavement. Eventually, she gets changed (I think she ended up finding a more hidden change room), and heads for the finish, only to stop and help the crying girl find her mom. After she carries the girl to the security office, she crosses the finish line. Eventually, both The Iron Enforcer and Monkey Woman make their way out of their hiding spots, and run across the finish line, both totally ignoring the crying girl who they came within 5 feet of while running.
The final group of would be heroes heads out to complete their task. Nitro G, Creature, and Major Victory find their changing rooms quickly. Nitro runs right into an open quadrangle and changes on the grass…in plain sight with people walking by. Creature is another who, for some weird reason, changes in a garbage can. Unlike Lemuria, Creature actually does her costume change over while staying in the garbage can. Unbelievable! Nitro G, who is small but fast, races to the finish line, gleefully crossing without seeing the little girl. Creature also passes the little girl, crossing the finish line with a flourish of her whip. Major Victory, hamming it up and keeping with his super-persona, jumps out of his changing place swinging his arms and giving the double pistol hands to pigeons and passers-by, hears the little girls cries and stops to help her. Unlike the others who helped the girl, Major Victory stays in character the entire time, and confidently yells for the girls mother before sweeping her up in his arms and carrying her to the security office.
Once everyone has crossed the finish line, Stan contacts everyone on their communicators and tells them the real point of the challenge…the lost little girl. She was placed right before the finish point to gage how the heroes would react to someone in need of help. Obviously a lot of the heroes failed, and Feedback is kicking himself with regret because he totally missed her.
A Hero’s Downfall
Back at the lair, the heroes all head to the roof for the first true elimination ceremony. No, the characters will not vote one another out, but Stan Lee will decide from 3 candidates of his choosing. Obviously, they will be pulled from the heroes who didn’t help the little girl.
The rooftop is set up with 10 lit up white boxes, 3 lit up red boxes, and a giant billboard video screen from which Stan will hand down his decisions. The heroes all climb on top of their respective boxes and listen in for Stan’s judgement. He points out that Nitro G, Ty’Veculus, Feedback, Monkey Girl, The Iron Enforcer, and Creature all passed the little girl, and he is sorely disappointed in them. From those six, Stan picks Nitro G; because he also changed right out in the open, Monkey Woman; because it really seemed like she made eye contact with the girl, and she just carried on, and The Iron Enforcer; simply because he had already been warned about his thoughts of killing people, coupled with the fact that he passed up the little girl.
The three anti-heroes get up on their red elimination boxes and give short speeches as to why they should stay at the lair. Nitro G simply apologizes. Monkey Woman seems truly sorry, and begs for another chance to prove herself. The Iron Enforcer also apologizes, and claims that his true nature as a human being is one of caring for others. Stan takes everyone’s pleas into consideration and hands down his decision. The person who will not be a superhero is….Nitro G. He is asked to remove his costume and place it in the garbage can of defeat…and lightning strikes it and burns it to nothingness.
Stan finally addresses the wanna be heroes and tells them that the rest of the challenges will be equally difficult, if not more so. He is seeking true heroes, and that is never about simply getting the job done.
Be sure to tune in next week when all of the remaining heroes get brand new costumes, and they try to help an old lady get back inside her house…past snarling guard dogs.
Thanks to TokyoNights for the screencap of Lemuria in the trash can. It’s priceless!
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