Hello. My name is Mantenna, and after a tragic childhood accident, I gained superpowers. Gone are the days of being a nerdy, 98-pound social misfit, because now I run around in brightly-colored tights, administer vigilante justice, and shout cheesy statements from skyscraper rooftops!
Anyway, if you’ve been anywhere near a cinema in the past few years, you know that poor Stan Lee’s heroes are in grave danger. Look at what I mean:
Spider-Man? The film Spider-Man 2 featured a segment with the song “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head,” and the third one was even goofier.
The Incredible Hulk? His movie was directed by the same guy who did “Brokeback Mountain,” giving Bruce Banner’s signature purple pants some daring new connotations.
The X-Men? Their latest movie was directed by the same guy who did “Rush Hour,” so now Wolverine will know to never touch a black man’s radio.
The Fantastic Four? Their latest movie, Rise of the Silver Surfer, was so appallingly pointless that I shot myself in the face. I survived because I’m a superhero, but seriously. I hate to spoil it for all of you, but the Silver Surfer isand heClick to see Spoiler:silverThere’s the whole movie for you.Click to see Spoiler:surfs.
Little wonder, then, that Stan is back for another season of Who Wants to Be a Superhero and sets off on an 11-city tour to find the most promising new champions of peace, justice, and the American way. Among the hopefuls are “The Great Granny” and my personal favorite “Homeless Man,” who is also quite possibly a long-lost member of Jethro Tull. Last year’s winner, Feedback, is back and brings the news to our ten contestants who make the cut. I have to note that he looks geekier than ever—he could now just as soon be a henchman for The Bookworm. You can learn more about the heroes from their individual threads, but here’s a brief introduction to each:
They’re Off to Find the Heroes of the Day
The first contestant we meet is Ms. Limelight, who seems to be fill the “lobster-tanned and ditz-o-riffic” demographic. Nah, she seems sweet, if but a little verbally-challenged.
Hygena is a super cleanin’ heroine, defender of underdogs, children, and housewives everywhere. Her words, not mine.
The Defuser is a police detective who chose his line of work after being inspired by superheroes as a kid.
Basura, which is Spanish for “garbage,” makes all her gadgets from the trash, has a nose ring and rather racy costume, and is kind of like a less filthy and irritating version of Creature from last year.
Mr. Mitzvah, a Jewish superhero, is obviously the easy gag target of the year. In real life, thanks to a sizeable inheritance, lives the life of a millionaire. See? LOL.
Mindset is a hefty fellow, and he believes that there should be more superheroes that use their minds over their brute strength.
Parthenon is a bejeweled reminder of the Golden Age of ancient Greece, when people really got the Apollonian/Dionysian balance right by pondering philosophy and dancing around a slain goat carcass all in the same evening. Anyway, he’s a college department head in real life and also gay, so he basically appeals to the type of people who read The Sandman.
Braid is doing this for the children, and she has crazy neon super-hair. Possibly sang back-up for Jem and the Holograms.
Hyper-Strike is a circus acrobat and martial artist in real life, so he actually has a smidgeon of credibility in his acting. According to his bio, he sweats profusely and can use this as a weapon, so I think his name should have been more like Hyper-Hidrosis. *rimshot*
And, finally, Whip-Snap, who looks a little like Mayday from A View to a Kill (the simultaneously best and worst James Bond movie ever), is overwhelmed that she’s been chosen, and don’t look now, but I have a feeling she’s going to be uber-sensitive and this year’s emotional equivalent to Fat Momma. Not that I’m calling her fat, because that would be rude.
A Sinister and Overly Elaborate Plot? Why, I Never!
The heroes convene for the first time at their secret lair/spa, finding powerful artifacts such as Stan Lee’s first pencil and a pair of his glasses from college. Heh, nerd. Basura feels a little apprehensive about Hygena, since they are on opposite poles of superhero domestic habits. Mr. Mitzvah, meanwhile, chooses to be a bit of a loner, since he knows that this is ultimately a competition.
Before you can say “Wonder-Twin powers, activate,” a monitor on the wall switches on, and it’s Stan Lee! Hooray! He reminds the heroes that they will be tested on the true qualities of a superhero—honesty, integrity, courage, and all that nonsense—and that he’ll very creepily always be watching them. The winner of the show will receive the greatest gift of all, IMMORTALITY. An exclusive Stan Lee comic book, an action figure, and a Sci-Fi Channel original movie is apparently all you need to live forever, a luxury formerly only granted to omnipresent deities, Christopher Lambert, Robin Williams in Bicentennial Man, and Feedback. The joy and excitement is short-lived, however, as a dark figure enters the picture and kidnaps Stan Lee!
This nefarious villain, who has shopped at Target, really means business, and if the superheroes don’t divide into two teams and head to the aqueducts on the north and south ends of town, Stan Lee is going to be a little "wet behind the ears!" Great, this is the one time where Aquaman would actually be useful. Seriously. The first and only time.
Team North/Blue is led by The Defuser, who instantly takes charge and divides the teams. He is joined by Basura, Braid, Parthenon, and Ms. Limelight.
Team South/Red is led by Hyper-Strike, who is joined by Mindset, Hygena, Mr. Mitzvah, and Whip-Snap.
At the aqueducts, the heroes find that they will have four minutes to run down a tunnel of doom, being blasted by gigantic hydro-fans of the future, turn off a series of levers and valves, and use a key to save Stan. Defuser immediately has his team link arms and walk together against the water blast, but the Red Team just decides to run in without a strategy, quickly getting scattered about like buffoons. The Blue Team does pretty well in dealing with the levers and valves, with the Defuser leading the way, but both teams forgot to pick up the key at the beginning of the tunnel! Whip-Snap runs back to get the key for the Red Team, but falls over and loses valuable time. It makes me realize that our country has a vast stockpile of weeble-wobble technology that is grossly under-utilized. In the end, the Blue Team successfully shuts everything down, but the Red Team is unable to beat the clock, fails, and Stan Lee is DEAD.
Did you enjoy this recap? Let me know at Mantenna@fansofrealitytv.com . . . wait, wait a minute! The mysterious villain cackles and pulls his mask off . . . and it’s Stan Lee, himself! What a card! He reminds everyone that he’s always watching, not everything is as it seems, and that this show is already 500% more scripted than last year.
Didn't your dad ever teach you to LOOK BEFORE YOU LEAP? – Lex Luthor
After their first test, the heroes return to get some much-needed rest. Whip-Snap blames herself for the Red Team’s failure, insists that she let Stan Lee and her family down, gets all emo, and goes off to cry about it.
“I’m more than a bird, I’m more than a plane . . . more than some pretty face beside a train. It’s not easy to be me.” – Five For Fighting, one-hit-wonder Dave Matthews impersonators
Thankfully for all involved, The Defuser comforts her and generally tries to improve morale for everyone. We also learn that Ms. Limelight is young enough to be his daughter, and that he feels a kinship with the young heroine.
The next day, the heroes are awakened with a bright, red ALERT! There’s been a non-descript robbery at a non-descript warehouse!
The heroes individually go in to talk with the warehouse curator, Mr. Long, and the worst broken-English dialogue since The Karate Kid ensues. The Defuser unsurprisingly handles the task like a police detective, uncovering clues left and right, while Ms. Limelight freaks out when Mr. Long starts asking her questions about her superpowers. Basura feels uncomfortably as though Mr. Long is treating her like an object, which might be because her costume is made of a lot less fabric than “not-fabric.” Braid, when questioned about her powers, goes on and on and on about herself, which can’t be a good thing. Mr. Mitzvah, meanwhile, feels that Mr. Long himself is acting suspicious, and turns the grilling right onto him. Honestly, though, the whole conversation is a bit "Holy stereotypes, Batman!"
The hijinks only get wackier when the superheroes return to their car and find that their tires have been stolen! It’s like Mantenna family vacation ’82 in St. Louis all over again. “We’ve been jacked!” cries The Defuser, quickly taking charge again and leading the heroes in an epic tire-changing mission. However, what nobody immediately realizes is that nearby there is also a deliveryman struggling with several parcels, an old granny struggling to get her walker out of a car, and a very sad dog underneath a “lost dog” poster. Of course, the dog is a beagle, and my calling him “sad” could be like profiling. Maybe he was just taking some time off to put his life into perspective. At any rate, the heroes are so caught up in changing their tires that only Parthenon breaks away to help the deliveryman, only Basura and Hygena stop to help the old lady, and no one at all notices the poor lil’ pup.
Fiddler on the Rooftop Elimination Ceremony and other Jewkes
At this point, Stan Lee realizes that we’ve already collected about 50 minutes of footage, and it’s time to summon the heroes for the first elimination.
Whip-Snap: You fell in the first challenge, which was SHAMEFUL, but you did pick yourself up and carry on, which is pretty superheroinely.
Defuser: You led the team to victory, but you were so caught up in changing the tires that you failed to notice the people in distress.
Hygena and Basura: You noticed the old lady and showed some decency by helping her out. Good job.
Parthenon: You helped the delivery man, so here’s a gold star to go with those rhinestones.
Mr. Mitzvah: You were the only person to find the cut lock in Mr. Long’s warehouse, but you were “unnecessarily rude” to him in the process. Also, you’re not bonding well with your teammates. In as many words, his report card gets an “A” for “Uses scissors” and an “F” for “Plays well with others.”
Braid: You talked about yourself way too much to Mr. Long. Also, you seemed to be holding back in the hydro-fan challenge.
Ms. Limelight: You saw the old lady, but you didn’t stop to help her! *collective gasp* Also, you need to show more overall courage. (“Self-Help with Stan Lee,” now available for $14.99.)
The three heroes called forward, unsurprisingly, are Mr. Mitzvah, Braid, and Ms. Limelight, and each tries to defend their actions and state why they should remain on the show.
Mr. Mitzvah believes that Mr. Long was acting evasive and guilty, and when Stan asks, “Did it ever occur to you that he was the victim?” Mr. Mitzvah replies, “No.” Stan frowns. Braid says that she should stay because she’s here for a greater cause than herself, and Ms. Limelight says something about growing day by day and showing more than meets the eye or something like that.
It’s a tough decision, but the first hero to be stripped of his or her powers is . . . Braid! Well, I guess offing Mr. Mitzvah right off the bat would have been a hate crime, and Stan felt that Braid was not heroic enough to walk her talk.
Well, all I can say is that this premiere was goofier than the Green Goblin on absinthe. Do these heroes have what it takes to join the ranks of Batman, Flash, Storm, Wonder Woman, or even The Martian Manhunter? Or is this just a stretch of the imagination—of Reed Richards proportions? Tune in next week to find out, because you never know when Stan Lee will be watching YOU.