IF SUPER FEELS FAMILIAR, well, that's 'cause it is. Concept-wise, it's basically Kick-Ass, just as Kick-Ass was basically Spider-Man. The key difference, though: Neither the dweeb in Kick-Ass nor the dweeb in Super get bitten by a genetically engineered spider. To balance out their noble aspirations of superhero-dom, they've got a deficit of powers and brains.
Super's Frank D'Arbo (Rainn Wilson) schlumps about just like any other dim, hapless loser, facing life's daily humiliations with a grim weariness. But when his wife (Liv Tyler) ditches him for her smarmy drug dealer, Jacques (Kevin Bacon), Frank snaps: After hallucinating a chat with the Holy Avenger (Nathan Fillion), the star of a cheap Christian superhero TV show, Frank stitches himself a terrible costume and picks up a pipe wrench.
Amateur or not, most superheroes have a moral code, but what makes Asperger-y Frank interesting is that he doesn't: Dressed up and calling himself the Crimson Bolt, Frank metes out equally bloody justice to drug dealers, pederasts, and the guy who butts in front of him in line at a movie theater. Pretty quickly, Super stops feeling like Kick-Ass and more like Falling Down, and pretty quickly after that, Frank finds himself with an equally violent and maladjusted sidekick—spazzy fangirl Libby (Ellen Page), AKA Boltie. Libby's happy to help Frank fight Jacques to get his wife back, sure, but she also wants to bone him while they're dressed like rejected X-Men.
As he did with 2006's underrated horror comedy Slither, writer/director James Gunn brings a clever, dark, and unpredictable edge to these genre proceedings—the only weak part of Gunn's script, actually, is how lazily Tyler shifts from an actual character to a feeble damsel in distress. Gunn's helped out by Wilson, whose sad-sack Frank is pretty much Dwight Schrute on The Office but without that show's annoying camera-winkage, and Page, whose dorky, vicious glee is the best thing about the film. Super isn't anything you haven't already seen before, but as mashups go, one could do a lot worse.