Not Another Listicle: Superhero Trash

Just in time for the wrap on the remake of The Toxic Avenger, I’ve compiled a list of films that I regard as Superhero Trash. I think these viewings started as an unconscious search for alternative superhero films that set themselves apart from the tired standards of major studio hero movies. Way apart. The following was used as a silly manifesto for this special breed of trash films:

  • These films have one or more of the following attributes: low-budget, harshly panned, box-office flopperz, cult followings, overlooked, B, C, or Z movies.
  • I am trying to exclude typical superheros that are a part of more well-known comic book publishers especially if they are big budget films. If these characters are included it will be due to their trash qualities and reception.
  • Action/Spy/Cop type films will mostly not be included unless adapted from a comic book, or they’re a form of alternative (bonkers) vigilantism within the law enforcement institution in supernatural situations for justice.
  • Cowboy, Ninja, Samurai, Swashbuckler, and S&S films will not be included unless they take place within a realistic-ish/modern realm, i.e., Doctor Mordrid.
  • Along the same vein, Dystopian/Sci-fi Action-Hero type films (Ultraviolet, Aeon Flux) are left out for the most part.
  • I am limiting my inclusion of family/children’s films unless directed by otherwise notable trash directors, i.e., Superbabies (Bob Clark) and Up, Up, And Away (Robert Townsend).
  • Early film serials are not included with the exception of Superman and the Mole Men which was a full feature-trash film.
  • Although arguably the first radioactive “villain turned superhero,” Gojira films will not be included.
  • On the subject of Sequels: the first features are sometimes left out because the original release was well received both critically and financially and although hold some trash qualities, weren’t thrown in the trash completely. Favorites of mine include Darkman and The Mask (1994).
  • I am currently not including animated films, but suggestions are welcomed, animated or not.

I’m having fun with this list and trying not to be too harsh on my own philosophy of trash. There are exceptions to all these “rules.” It is important to note, trash contains its own beauty. There are sometimes distinctions between “trash bad” and “bad bad.” Like foods you feel gross about eating, but love, as opposed to foods that just taste gross and have no merit. But some would argue that even “bad bad” has its own importance and charm.

A favorite quote from Lotus (Susan Byun) in the highly problematic Sgt. Kabukiman N.Y.P.D.: “Do not treat me as an inferior. I’m easily your better. If only the order of the universe were not so unfair to womankind, I would’ve been chosen to receive the gift, and would not now be dealing with such a penis-wielding imbecile as yourself.” Like I said, there is beauty in trash.

Click to check out the list.

You can also choose to reveal notes I’ve written for selected films!



Davy Walker

Davy grew up mormon in lalaland, Ca. Upon leaving mormonism, he began studying at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and got lost in the snow. It was there he started tinkering with film and sound arts. Now a programmer for Slamdance Film Festival and freelance sound artist/music composer for film, Davy also loves writing about everything cinema! Check out his other <a href="">work.</a>

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